Mayweather’s Main Appeal Now His Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous

Making history by matching Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record? Forget it. Mere boxing considerations no longer are what drives the public to follow the aptly nicknamed Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. (48-0, 26 KOs) as the sport’s most ostentatious cash cow collects another $32 million or so of chump change for cuffing around doomed challenger Andre Berto (30-3, 23 KOs) on Sept. 12 at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand.

There is no way, of course, that Mayweather can hope to come within Hubble telescope distance of the staggering numbers he posted for his largely disappointing May 2 conquest of Manny Pacquiao. Even now, those grotesquely swollen figures — $500-million-plus in total revenue, 4.4 million pay-per-view subscriptions, somewhere between $220 million to the winning fighter — must seem like misprints to regular Americans struggling to meet their monthly mortgage payments. But the six-fight sweetheart deal Mayweather signed with Showtime/CBS in February 2013, the last installment of which is against designated fall guy Berto, guarantees that he be paid no less than $32 million even if it’s for little more than a glorified sparring session. As a legitimate boxing match, Mayweather-Berto is of almost zero interest to the average fight fan; Berto is a 40-to-1 longshot, and even those Grand Canyonesque odds would seem to be conservative. Berto, though he is himself a former world welterweight champion, probably has about much chance of claiming Mayweather’s WBC, WBA, lineal and THE RING welter titles as he does of winning the Powerball Lottery.

The 38-year-old Mayweather, in a sense, has already won the Powerball Lottery – several times over. According to Forbes magazine, he again is guaranteed to be the highest paid athlete in the world, having already made $285 million this year before he throws his first punch at Berto. His current net worth is an estimated $500 million, which seemingly ensures that he won’t – can’t – suffer the same financial ruin that befell such riches-to-rags boxing greats as Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. Pacquiao lags far behind in second place, at $160 million earned in 2015, with the third athlete on the list, soccer’s Ronaldo, a semi-pauper at $79 million. Even basketball superstar LeBron James, in sixth place, seems like he should be clipping discount coupons and shopping in thrift stores at a mere $64.8 million.

What’s more amazing is that none of Mayweather’s income comes from product endorsements; the last such gigs he had were way back in 2009, when he did minor TV spots for AT&T and Reebok, with neither company electing to renew its association with him in 2010.

“You can’t deny people want to watch him, and people have been waiting a long time to see this fight (against Pacquiao),” Bob Dorfman, editor of Sports Marketers Scouting Report, said earlier this year. “But it doesn’t mean you’ll buy a product he’s endorsing or believe him as a spokesman.”

Not being a compensated pitchman for Madison Avenue, though, does not seem to bother Mayweather in the least. He almost revels in his anti-establishment, bad-boy persona. What you see is what you get, he insists, and if that includes the occasional homophobic and sexist rant, and at least three domestic-violence convictions, so be it.

“I am always the villain,” Mayweather said before his June 25, 2005, brutalization of Arturo Gatti in Atlantic City. “That’s all right. I know how boxing works. You have to have a good guy and a bad guy. I don’t mind being the bad guy.”

Is “Money” actually a villain? Or does he merely play one because it helps embellish his brand? Either way, it doesn’t seem to matter much from a bottom-line standpoint. The way he looks at it, has always looked at it, if someone plucks down enough cash for a ticket or a PPV subscription to watch his bouts, it is of no concern to him if that person desperately wants to see him win or lose. Income streams play no favorites.

For a Showtime special he did last year with former “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” host Robin Leach, Mayweather explained why he’ll never be broke, despite profligate spending habits that make even Tyson’s conspicuous consumption in the 1980s and ’90s, which saw him blow through a reported $300 million, seem semi-miserly.

“I’ve got plans for real-estate ventures in New York and film production in Los Angeles,” Mayweather, who has vowed that the Berto fight will be his last, told Leach. “I’ve invested wisely over the years, and I’m not going to wind up broke. I set a goal of $12 million a year coming in at a million a month in interest alone. We’ve reached that – and I still sign all my own checks.”

The only problem with that is Mayweather, who bets hundreds of thousands of dollars on sporting events (he only goes public on those occasions when he collects on wagers), routinely spends more than a million dollars a month. If he had to subsist solely on that interest revenue, he’d have to cut back, drastically, on the extravagances that have made him more intriguing to fight fans and non-fans than his luminescence inside the ropes. Put it this way: It is Mayweather’s flaunting of his fabulous wealth that has replaced his undeniable ring skills as the cornerstone of his appeal. At this stage of his career, he doesn’t even pretend otherwise.

Keith Thurman, the WBA’s “regular” welterweight champion, admits to being disappointed when he lost out to Berto for the slot opposite Mayweather in which the man with total control, or as close as it ever gets to that in the fight game, adamantly says is his farewell to boxing. Then again, Thurman believes that actual bouts no longer are the primary engine that drives Mayweather’s notoriety.

“Let’s watch `Money’ spend his money on a Rolls-Royce and a Bentley,” Thurman told reporters at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., a few hours before Danny Garcia’s Aug. 1 rout of Paulie Malignaggi. “Let’s watch `Money’ go to a strip club. Let’s watch `Money’ go around with a bag of money and buy some shoes. Whatever he wants to do, America is going to watch; it’s called the `Money Show.’

“So right now at the end of his career he’s making more money than anyone thought was possible in the world of boxing. And to me that is his goal. That’s why he nicknamed himself `Money.’ He’s focused on the money and he wants to make history – not in the way I want to make history – but he wants to make history on (financial) numbers and numbers alone. So once again, enjoy the `Money Show.’ I wouldn’t pay for his next fight, but that’s on you.”

Truth be told, it does appear that Mayweather has received more attention for his latest lavish purchase than he did for attempting to depict Berto, who has two losses to fighters (Victor Ortiz and Robert Guerrero) that Mayweather dominated, as the guy who might finally smudge the record of the self-proclaimed TBE (“The Best Ever”). Despite the fact that Mayweather already has bought at least 88 luxury cars for himself and members of his unwieldy entourage, he couldn’t resist the urge to fork over $4.8 million in late August for a Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita, a land rocket that can go from zero to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and has a top speed of 250 mph. It’s the perfect vehicle for those occasions when Floyd is running a bit late for an appointment.

Thurman, who, most would agree, would pose a sterner test to Mayweather than Berto figures to, might have reason to be perturbed, but any suggestion that the most-well-compensated fighter in boxing history has been doing it against a steady stream of bums is misleading at best and simply wrong at worst. Twenty-five of Floyd’s 49 pro bouts have been for world championships, and his list of victims includes such notables as Pacquiao, Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez, Diego Corrales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Jose Luis Castillo, Genaro Hernandez, Zab Judah and Ricky Hatton. Even though he seemingly was pressed in majority decisions over Marcos Maidana (the first of their two fights) and Alvarez, and a split decision over De La Hoya, the closest brushes he has had with possible defeat came against Maidana (I), Castillo and Emanuel Augustus.

No wonder Mayweather struts around like the cock of the walk. He figures he’s merited his announced position at the top of the all-time heap, and being No. 1 should have its perks.

“No one can get me to say Sugar Ray Robinson or anybody else was or is better than me,” he said before the Mosley fight on May 1, 2010. “No one was better. No one is better. Maybe no one else ever will be better.”

The extent of Mayweather’s greatness as a fighter is a topic that is debated now and will continue to be well into the future. He is, indisputably, a defensive genius. He is also is a technician who doesn’t always deliver much bang for all those bucks; his most recent win inside the distance came against Ortiz on Sept. 17, 2011, and he might not have ended that one early (the fourth round) had not Ortiz made the mistake of dropping his hands and turning his head to look at the referee. The first rule of boxing is to protect yourself at all times and Mayweather, with as free a shot as he has ever had, took advantage of Ortiz’s lapse of judgment with an overhand shot that landed flush. But Mayweather’s last six fights have gone to the scorecards, a streak he vows will end against Berto.

“There’s going to be some knockdowns,” Mayweather said when the matchup was made. “A lot. And there’s going to be blood. A lot.”

Mayweather being Mayweather, though, don’t expect him to toss caution to the wind as if it were so much confetti. If he didn’t do it against Pacquiao, when so much was expected in terms of excitement and so little delivered, it would be foolish to think “Money” has suddenly become a leopard disposed to change its spots.

“My health is more important to me than anything,” Floyd said of the fears raised by the diminished mental capacity of his uncle and former trainer, Roger Mayweather. “It hurts me extremely bad he don’t even know who I am anymore.”

If this is indeed Mayweather’s last rodeo, the decision not to go for win No. 50 might be his and his alone. It also could be that Showtime or his former TV home, HBO, would balk at coming up with another contract the size of a Third World nation’s gross national product, and especially if a precondition to any such arrangement would cede to Floyd total control over, well, everything. It’s highly unlikely that Mayweather would be willing to mark himself down like bruised fruit at the supermarket. He is accustomed to receiving premium compensation every time he laces up the gloves, and it seems reasonable to assume he won’t accept a penny less than what he’s been getting on the about-to-lapse Showtime deal.

But if he really is on the verge of retirement, he soon will walk away with a legacy of opulence that any captain of industry would envy. Consider some of the adventures in spending that Mayweather has engaged in in his relentless march toward membership in the billionaire’s club, a distinction he might already have attained if he were only a bit more frugal:

*He keeps on staff a personal chef who is paid $4,000 a day to rustle up his favorite meals, and at any time of the day or night. Also on staff is a personal barber, which also might seem a tad excessive in that Mayweather shaves his head.

*He signs contracts with a solid-gold pen.

*He maintains three residences in Las Vegas; one in Sunny Isles, Fla., outside of Miami ; one in Los Angeles and one in New York. He keeps a matching set of cars –a fleet that includes 14 Rolls-Royces – at his primary Las Vegas residence (those are white) and the one in Florida (those are black). “I don’t want to get confused where I am,” he said in explaining the arrangement to Leach.

*He maintains a staff of around 20, including four burly bodyguards, who know better than to question any directive from the boss.

*He has “at least” $5 million in jewelry, including a $1.6 million necklace.

*He wears top-of-the-line underwear (boxer shorts) and sneakers (Christian Louboutins, which are priced anywhere from $795 to $3,595 a pair, depending on the model) only once before discarding them.

*The bars at his various residences are stocked with his beverage of choice (Louis XIII Remy Martin Cognac, which goes for $3,500 a bottle).

If it appears that PPV sales for Mayweather-Berto are lagging, despite the angle of Floyd bidding to match Marciano, there is one surefire way to spur interest in a fight that hasn’t exactly caught on like wildfire with consumers who still feel stung for buying into May-Pac.

All it would take is for Mayweather to announce that his trip from his dressing room to the ring will be made as he sits behind the wheel of that Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita and ticket sales would be sure to boom. And why not? Those who have followed Mayweather have gotten used to the notion of his receiving a minimum wage of $32 million. But a chance to see and a $4.8 million car … now that would really be something , wouldn’t it?

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COMMENTS

-Domenic :

Floyd is a legendary businessman, right up there with Soros and Trump. What's more remarkable is that he's done it without endorsements, a brilliant decision in its own right, because it's not constricted him due to his unsavory character issues (see Tiger Woods, who for years had to live a double life to preserve a make believe image for marketing purposes). I remember when Tyson would get those huge paydays, or further back, Ray Leonard, and would just marvel. Floyd makes those look like chump change, like an undercard purse on USA's Tuesday Night Fights. As of now, Floyd is the P4P best monetarily, including inflation, that has ever lived, and there's no close second. In terms of in the ring, he's a hall of famer, a very nice career, right in the Joe Calzaghe realm all time. But there's no getting around the fact that he avoided guys at the peak of their powers --no shame in that, but when you do that, there are consequences in the eyes of history-- and really his best win was probably Corrales, followed by Alvarez and Cotto. In 20 years, if ESPN Classic is still running classic fights, there's not a single Floyd fight that'll be on there (maybe Genaro, but I suppose they already could show that). Great, great businessman. The best businessman that boxing has ever seen.


-Carmine Cas :

Mayweather has orchestrated his career to booming financial success. By the looks of it, he is a great businessman. But IMO the true test is after he hangs up the gloves.


-Froggy :

I don't think most great businessmen [women] throw money around like he does ! I also am not sure sure he's the greatest businessperson to have ever stepped in the ring, he certainly made more boxing than anyone but that doesn't mean he was better at business than many boxers who made far less but did quite well ! All those nice cars, and from what I understand, he doesn't even drive, does he need status symbols to overcome insecurities ? Good for him for making so much money from the sport, but that will be remembered as a much bigger accomplishent than his legacy in the ring !


-Domenic :

Just remember, he's made so much money that money itself has become almost immaterial to him. He can buy a car for $5mm, and just treat it like a potted plant. That's why when he wins $600k or whatever it was betting on Denver, he derives more pleasure from posting the ticket on social media than the winnings themselves. He can drop $50k in a strip club in 2 hours and think nothing of it. That represents less to him than found money in your pants pocket or sofa cushion. He's not an innovator, he's not Thomas Edison or Bill Gates, but he's still an erudite businessman. Cut from a different cloth, but plenty astute. I don't hold him in particular high regard historically, I put him behind Ray Leonard, Hearns, Aaron Pryor, Whitaker, scores of others, historically, not because he wasn't potentially as good as them, but wantonly avoided guys at their peak in order to preserve the '0' on his record, which is nice, but completely overrated. I remember Floyd, in the build-up to the Gatti fight, over and over said the guy is a C+ fighter. Then when he looked for praise after the fight, it's like man, you beat a C+ fighter, even you said so! You didn't see Ali waxing on about his win over Jean Pierre Coopman (no disrespect to Gatti, who I'd pay to see over Floyd every day of the week). It's like a Major League Baseball player going 1-4. If he really believes he can beat Golovkin ---which he doesn't--- he'd do himself a favor by actually praising Golovkin in the build-up, saying the guy is a wrecking ball, everyone avoids him, he's bigger, stronger, and at the peak of his athletic powers, and it's a huge challenge, etc, then waltz in and win.


-Radam G :

I don't think most great businessmen [women] throw money around like he does ! I also am not sure sure he's the greatest businessperson to have ever stepped in the ring, he certainly made more boxing than anyone but that doesn't mean he was better at business than many boxers who made far less but did quite well ! All those nice cars, and from what I understand, he doesn't even drive, does he need status symbols to overcome insecurities ? Good for him for making so much money from the sport, but that will be remembered as a much bigger accomplishent than his legacy in the ring !
Good analysis. He has made tons of money from boksing, but he hasn't made a lot of great business moves with that money. In other words, he has not increased his money from the money that he made from boksing. Dude is losing money every day from letting it set around in his cribs, rides -- land, air and ocean vehicles -- and in the pockets of his holder-ons. And then he made an investment in fast-food Burger King and Taco Bell that is beginning to fade because the U.S. Gov put that bad food in check. One of Money May's other investments is in "Player's Clubs" and strip joints. And his boxing gym in Sin City pulls in moolah, but not BIG, BIG time. He has too many groupies, hanger-ons and big uglies. Holla!


-Radam G :

Money May is the bomb to people poor in economy and Financial education. To them, he can flash $100-dollar paper-note bills instead of gold bars and certificates of ownership of land, raw earth, minerals, patents of inventions, real estate and various entrepreneurships. Dude got near a half of million dollars, but a million problems and hanger-ons. And his vast amount of dollars are disappearing by the minute. Many athletes have been where he is. But look where they ended up. And look at where the ones who just made a few hundred thousand or a just a mil are. Some are top-of-the-line entrepreneurs with millions. I can name a few. But I won't. TSS super scribes started this story. And now they can expand to tell how a few bottom dwellers became top-money bosses with their tiny sport's earning. But the ones with super-giant sport's earning lost it all. Holla!


-Art :

Nobody is watching your farce little boy!! Hold on to that money because your going to need it!!


-deepwater2 :

Hopefully Floyd doesn't lose money to guys like 3 comma Joe, who stole many millions from Floyd. Hopefully he cuts down on some of the members of his entourage and puts Nasty Nate on a diet.


-brownsugar :

The Floyd persona cannot be fabricated (a la Adrian Broner), it cannot be duplicated, synthesized or mass produced. (but it will be televised) lol.... Floyd enlisted a legion of followers from the gutter most to the uttermost. Fans range from dope gang members and street scum,....although Floyd was never a gangster......to the creme de La creme who abide in tinsel town and the entertainment community,.... to the elite power brokers like billionaires Mark Cuban and Warren Buffet,... The wealthy throng at ringside hoping for the opportunity to get their clothes soiled by just one drop of his blood, sweat, or post fight tears so they can brag to their friends and hope some of the special sauce that Floyd has will rub off. The path his life took cannot be made up and planned out like a Greek wedding. People who hear Floyd say that he's God Gifted and Blessed, yet go away thinking they simply heard Floyd quote a common colloquialism, will never ever even begin to comprehend the man. Floyd uses the flaunting of cash as a focal point to generate more cash. The American pubic is so predictable.