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

Bernard Fernandez

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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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The Canelo-Yildirim Travesty was Another Smudge on ‘Mandatory’ Title Defenses

Arne K. Lang

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Canelo Alvarez’s rout of grossly overmatched Avni Yildirim has once again cast a harsh light on the “mandatory challenger” gambit employed by the sport’s world sanctioning bodies. Canelo successfully defended his WBC 168-pound belt this past Saturday in Miami when Yildirim’s corner pulled him out after only three rounds.

During the nine minutes of actual fighting, Yildirim was credited with landing only 11 punches, none of which appeared to have been launched with bad intentions. A person posting on a rival web site likened Yildirim’s woeful performance to that of Nate Robinson’s showing against Jake Paul. Another snarky poster said that faint-hearted Adrien Broner, by comparison, had the heart of a lion. True, the 29-year-old Turk was sent in against a beast, but one yet has a right to expect more from a contest packaged as a world title fight.

Yildirim was coming off a loss. In his previous fight, he lost a split decision to Anthony Dirrell in a bout that was stopped in the 10th round by the ringside physician because of a bad cut over Dirrell’s left eye that resulted from an accidental head butt. He hadn’t won a fight in three-and-a-half years, not since out-pointing 46-year-old Lolenga Mock who predictably faded late in the 12-round fight, enabling Yildirim to win a narrow decision. Earlier in his career, he was stopped in the third round by Chris Eubank Jr in a fight that was one-sided from the get-go.

So, how exactly did Avni Yildirim build himself into position to become the mandatory opponent for the sport’s top pound-for-pound fighter? Did he “earn” this opportunity and the rich payday that came with it by submitting the winning bid in an auction? Is that a rhetorical question?

In an ESPN Q & A, the award-winning writer Mark Kriegel said that Canelo-Yildirim was payback for certain favors that were granted to Canelo by the WBC, citing the organization’s new “Franchise Champion” category and to their decision to countenance Canelo’s fight with Callum Smith for their vacant 168-pound title. But this doesn’t answer the question as to how Yildirim ascended to the role of a mandatory challenger; it merely informs us why Canelo agreed to take the fight.

This was the second great mismatch in 10 weeks involving a mandatory challenger. On Dec. 18, Gennadiy Golovkin opposed Poland’s Kamil Szeremeta in the first defense of the IBF middleweight title that he won with a hard-earned decision over Sergiy Derevyanchenko. The feather-fisted Szeremeta was undefeated (21-0, 5 KOs) but hadn’t defeated an opponent with a recognizable name.

This was a stroll in the park for GGG. Szeremeta was a glutton for punishment – he lasted into the seventh round — but at no point in the fight did he pose a threat to the 38-year-old Kazakh. Golovkin knocked him down four times before the plug was pulled.

In theory, the “mandatory challenger” ruling forestalls the very abuses with which it has become identified. It prevents a champion from fighting a series of hapless opponents while a more worthy challenger is left out in the cold. One could say that it stands as an example of the law of unforeseen consequences, save that it would be naïve to think that the heads of the sanctioning bodies didn’t foresee this versatility and venally embrace it.

Historians will likely lump Avni Yildirim with such fighters of the past as Patrick Charpentier and Morrade Hakker who were accorded mandatory contender status by the WBC so that they could be fodder for a title-holder in a stay-busy fight. Charpentier was rucked into retirement by Oscar De La Hoya who dismissed the overmatched Frenchman in three one-sided rounds at El Paso in 1998. Hakker was thrown in against Bernard Hopkins at Philadelphia in 2003. He brought his bicycle with him, so to speak, and thus lasted into the eighth.

In common with Yildirim and a slew of other mandatory challengers (Vaughn Bean comes quickly to mind), Charpentier and Hakker had misleading records. Steve Kim, in an article for this publication, said that Hakker’s record was more inflated than the Goodyear blimp.

A mandatory title defense isn’t always a rip-off. One wonders where Tyson Fury would be career-wise today if the WBO hadn’t established the Gypsy King as the mandatory challenger to Wladimir Klitschko, setting the wheels in motion for a changing of the guard. That worked out well for the good of the sport as Fury, after some disconcerting speed bumps, would prove to be a breath of fresh air.

But a mandatory title defense between evenly-matched opponents remains a rarity and there’s no end in sight to the charade.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom

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Canelo Pummels Yildirin Into Submission in Three One-Sided Frames

David A. Avila

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Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez dismissed Avni Yildirim like a bothersome fly to retain the WBA and WBC super middleweight titles by technical knockout in a mandatory fight on Saturday.

Challenge completed.

After less than three months from his last victory, Canelo (55-1-2, 37 KOs) returned to the boxing ring and battered Turkey’s Yildirim (21-3, 12 KOs) to submission at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. Callum Smith or Yildirim please take your seat.

It was just 70 days ago that Alvarez took the WBA title away from England’s Smith but the Mexican redhead was eager to return to the ring and dominated Yildirim like the former sparring partner he was.

It was hardly a contest.

Yildirim spent most of 2020 working with Southern California’s famed trainer Joel Diaz, but there is only so much a teacher can teach. Regardless of the expertise given to the Turkish fighter the trainer can’t jump in the boxing ring. Despite repeated admonishments by Diaz, his fighter just could not pull the trigger.

“It doesn’t matter who trains him I just do my work and listen to my corner,” said Alvarez “I feel very strong at this weight.”

Alvarez pummeled Yildirim like a punching bag early and often during the first two rounds. Left and right uppercuts pierced through Yildirim’s guard and body shots pummeled the body. Return fire was seldom exchanged.

After two rounds of sustaining punishment to the head and body, Yildirim attempted to fire back. He paid for his gamble with a counter right fired through the guard by Canelo and down went the challenger.

Though Yildirim survived the third-round knockdown, as he returned to the corner his trainer Diaz warned that another round like the third would force a stoppage. Diaz decided after further inspection to end the fight then and there at the end of the third round.

“I said I would get the knockout and I got the knockout,” said Alvarez.

The win sets up a showdown with England’s Billy Joe Saunders who holds the WBO super middleweight world title.

“This year it’s going to be very special against BJ Saunders,” said Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn who is planning their encounter for May 8. “It’s going to be one of the biggest fights of the year.”

Canelo said he is eager for the pending encounter.

“He’s a difficult fighter. He has the WBO title and we need to go for him,” said Alvarez.

Alvarez said his plans are to continue making history as a Latino fighter winning undisputed world titles in the super middleweight division.

“In Latin America it hasn’t been done,” Alvarez said. “I want to make history.”

Other Bouts

McWilliams Arroyo walked through Abraham Rodriguez’s punches and won by technical knockout in the fifth round to win the interim WBC flyweight title.

Despite a change of opponents within the last week Arroyo (21-4, 15 KOs) was able to adapt to last-minute opponent Rodriguez (27-3, 13 KOs) and work the body and head until the Mexican fighter’s corner tossed in the white towel to end the fight at 1:41 of the fifth round.

A battle of heavyweights between China’s Zhilei Zhang (22-0-1, 17 KOs) and America’s Jerry Forrest (26-4-1) ended in a majority draw after 10 rounds. Despite three early knockdowns scored by Zhang, the momentum changed after Forrest attacked the body inside. The scores were 95-93 Forrest and 93-93 twice for a majority draw.

In a super middleweight fight between two extremely tall prospects Diego Pacheco (11-0, 8 KOs) won by unanimous decision over Rodolfo Gomez Jr. after eight rounds. No knockdowns were scored between the two fighters who each towered at 6-feet 4-inches.

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland / Matchroom

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Results from Auckland: Parker UD 12 Fa; Ahio KO 7 Long

Arne K. Lang

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New Zealand heavyweights Joseph Parker and Junior Fa met four times as amateurs and each man won twice. On Saturday night in Auckland, they met for the first time as professionals and the heavily favored Parker broke the deadlock with a 12-round unanimous decision.

The bout beat the clock, in a fashion. During the match the crowd at the waterfront arena, estimated at 8,500, was informed that Auckland was reverting to Phase Three effective at 6:00 in the morning, following the discovery of a new Covid-19 infection. That meant, among other things, that public gatherings would be restricted to 10 people and schools would be open only to the children of essential workers.

The fight was a rather drab affair in which both men had trouble landing clean punches, perhaps owing partly to ring rust. Parker (28-2, 21 KOs) was making his first start in 12 months; Fa (19-1, 10 KOs) had been inactive since November of 2019.

Parker, the former world title challenger who went the distance with Anthony Joshua, had the upper hand in the early rounds and opened a small cut over Fa’s left eye in the seventh round, perhaps the result of an errant elbow. The cut became larger and bled profusely as the bout continued but it was never in danger of being stopped.

Parker had a worried look on his face as he awaited the reading of the scores, but he had nothing to fear. The judges had it 115-113, 117-111, and a head-scratching 119-109.

After the fight, Parker said, “It was a lot closer than we expected.”

Ahio vs. Long

The undercard was rubbish, but the Ahio-Long fight warrants a mention. A stablemate of Junior Fa, Hemi Ahio improved to 17-0 (12) with a wicked seventh-round knockout of Julius Long who was thoroughly gassed when Ahio caught him against the ropes and landed his haymaker. They had previously met in a 6-round affair that went the distance.

If the name Julius Long sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because he’s been around since 2001. Listed at seven-foot-one but likely an inch or two shorter, the boxer nicknamed the Towering Inferno came to New Zealand in 2013 to serve as a sparring partner for David Tua and never left.

Nearly 15 full years have elapsed since Long was whacked out in the opening round by Samuel Peter on a Duva Promotions card at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino.

George Kimball was ringside for TSS and described the scene: “The overmatched Long had already been down once when Peter smashed him with a left-right combination…(Long) hit the ropes with such force that he shot back off them like he was bouncing from a trampoline. Unfortunately for Long, the slingshot effect propelled him straight into the path of the right hand Peter had dispatched toward his head, effectively doubling the force of the blow. Long went down as if he had been whacked with a sledgehammer and lay motionless on the canvas. Referee Arthur Mercante Jr waved it off without a count, but he could have counted to 100.”

Long is now 43 years old. Since his crushing defeat by Samuel Peter, he is 4-17-1 and counting his defeat last night has been stopped seven more times. For his rematch with Akio, he weighed in at 326 ¾ pounds, more than 100 pounds more than his opponent.

In his adopted home, Julius Long, who grew up in Detroit, is a qualified chef, an occupation that requires an apprenticeship and many hours of training. He supplements his income moonlighting as a freelance prizefighter. By all accounts, he’s a very likeable man, but someone needs to take away his boxing gloves and burn them.

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