Mayweather no longer “Pretty Boy” - by Peter Leopeng

Floyd Mayweather junior used to go by the nickname of “Pretty Boy”. That was not because he thought he was pretty, but because “when I leave the ring after a fight, I look the same as when I step in the ring”, he explains. The moniker has now shifted to “Money”, yes the undefeated multiple world champion styles himself “Money Mayweather”. This is because the man has transformed not only himself or his lifestyle but also his fortunes.

Traditionally in the pugilistic world, boxing promoters call the shots; and why not. Promoters take the risk and put their money upfront (invest) to promote a tournament. When all is said and done they hope the money they make is more than what they put in. Depending on the success of the event, what they make could be 10%, 20%, 30% etc. more than they put in. This is called return on their initial investment. Like in any other business venture, there is no rule or law that dictates how much that should be. Obviously the idea would be to maximise that figure. One way of doing that would be to cut costs, the biggest of which is paying the boxers. So ordinarily promoters would negotiate the deal such that they pay the boxers what they (promoters) consider to be fair. Boxers on the other hand (or their management) would negotiate what they think the boxer deserves. What the promoter calls fair and what the boxer “deserves” are normally opposite ends of the pole.

This is the reason why some boxers refuse to tie themselves in binding contracts with promoters. Sugar Ray Leonard says in his acclaimed biography “The Fight” that the wisest advice he received from Muhammad Ali was that no promoter should own him. Leonard went on to become one of the few wealthy men from boxing today.

Floyd Mayweather jnr has gone a step further. He has turned the business of boxing on its head. He takes control of everything. As was reported in an article on ESPN BOXING: “The history of boxing is a history of broken dreams. Young men, mostly black and Hispanic, start with nothing and appreciate anything. They’re told when, where and how much and they never look closely at the money generated by their sweat and risk. They accept what’s offered because they are beholden to those doing the offering. It’s an enterprise fuelled by paternalism: I was there for you when you had nothing. The most successful live well for a short period before ending up broke and befuddled, their money taken by unscrupulous managers and unchecked spending, their brains taken by the rigors of the sport. Their lives travel a road from subservience to dependence before they can identify either one. “

“I was in that position at one time,” says Mayweather. “Not anymore. Now they” -- meaning the promoters who have long dominated the sport -- “don’t like Floyd Mayweather to enlighten a fighter. I don’t like it when they take a third from a fighter, then he has to pay his trainer 10%. After Uncle Sam, the man putting his body on the line gets less than 50 per cent.”

And this is how Floyd changed his fortunes: In his last fight under the banner of Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions, against Carlos Baldomir in November 2006, Floyd earned $8 million. He paid Arum over three quarters of a million dollars to get himself free from the contract and was scoffed at when he said he was worth more than the $8 million Arum was offering him for his next fight. Mayweather claimed he could make $20million and he was right. This is how his earnings progressed since the Baldomir fight.

Oscar De La Hoya, May 5, 2007 – $25 million; Ricky Hatton, December 8, 2007 – $25 million; World Wrestling Entertainment Appearance – $20 million; Juan Manuel Márquez, September 19, 2009 – $25 million; Sugar Shane Mosley, May 14, 2010 – $30 million; Victor Ortiz, September 17, 2011 – $40 million; Miguel Cotto, May 5, 2012 – $32 million.

With what Mayweather has done for himself and/ or for boxing, are promoters in trouble? Is this the end of promoters as we know them? Well the answer is a big NO.

It is easy to look at what Mayweather has achieved “promoterless”, and conclude that promoters belong in the past. But what we shouldn’t forget is that Floyd first had to prove his worth in the ring. He not only had to maintain his unblemished record, but he had to be marketable as well.

Having proved his exceptional talent and boxing skills, only then could Mayweather come into his own. But before then, he had to work through a promoter. Even say 7 to 8 fights ago, Mayweather would not have achieved what he could today. Then he needed a promoter no matter how “not enough” he was getting.

So before boxers run off and declare UDI from promoters, they should think twice. Not every boxer is the same as boxing’s “Special One”, Floyd Money Mayweather.