Friday, August 7, 2015

Thoughts On The Decision To Put Mayweather-Berto On Pay-Per-View

It was officially announced earlier this week that undefeated multi-division world champion Floyd Mayweather, the fighter widely considered the best pound for pound fighter in the world will take on former WBC Welterweight world champion Andre Berto on September 12th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mayweather last appeared in May of this year scoring a lopsided twelve round unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao in a fight that some called the “Fight Of The Century.”

Speculation regarding what Mayweather would do for his next fight began immediately following his victory over Pacquiao. Mayweather stated following the fight that he intended to relinquish the world championships he holds in both the Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight divisions saying that his next fight could be a non-title bout. As speculation increased as to what Mayweather’s potential plans were, discussion among both Boxing fans and experts alike began as to who might be Mayweather’s opponent for what is billed as potentially the final time Mayweather will enter the ring as a fighter.

Since that fight readers have seen this observer discuss who Mayweather’s opponent could be as several fights took place in recent months featuring fighters looking to position themselves as a potential opponent. Along with an ongoing discussion regarding who Mayweather would face in his scheduled bout in September, rumors began to circulate that Mayweather’s next fight would not be televised via traditional cable/satellite pay-per-view in the United States as has been the norm for most of his fights in the last decade, but would instead potentially be televised on free broadcast television by CBS.

Some may remember following undefeated Welterweight contender Keith Thurman’s stoppage win over former WBA Welterweight world champion Luis Collazo last month, I stated that an argument that some could make is if Mayweather’s fight, the last in a lucrative six fight contract with CBS/Showtime in September was to indeed be broadcast by CBS instead of pay-per-view that it could be an attempt by CBS/Showtime to avoid further backlash as was the case following Mayweather’s victory over Manny Pacquiao. Backlash from consumers, both who attended the fight as well those who paid $100 for the HD broadcast and $80 for the Standard Definition broadcast of the fight who felt they did not get their money’s worth.

At that time I stated that one should consider that a problem that might have been present for Mayweather and CBS/Showtime could have been difficulty in finding an opponent that will convince consumers who felt they did not get their money’s worth from the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight to spend more money on another pay-per-view event that would likely be priced between $70 and $80 if not higher. Although it was rumored that this fight would be broadcast by CBS, when it was announced that Mayweather will be facing former WBC Welterweight world champion Andre Berto on September 12th, it was also announced that the fight will be broadcast by Showtime pay-per-view for the price of $74.95 for the HD broadcast and $64.95 for the Standard Definition broadcast.

Although many have already criticized Mayweather for choosing Andre Berto as the opponent in what is billed as what could be his final fight, this observer believes that the main source of the criticism is not so much about whom Mayweather’s opponent will be, but rather the decision to put this card on pay-per-view. In fairness the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight did break all existing pay-per-view records generating 4.4 million pay-per-view buys in the United States and nearly $400 million in pay-per-view revenue.

Even though the sport as a whole may be approaching a new era where it is prominently featured on several broadcast and cable networks, featuring well matched and competitive fights where consumers are not asked to pay for the expense of what has become an increasingly expensive price tag to see such fights on a cable/satellite pay-per-view basis, the sport is still one that is pay-per-view centric and has been for many years. It will be interesting to see how well this fight between Mayweather and Berto will do in terms of pay-per-view buys. One should keep in mind that pay-per-view numbers for Boxing cards with the exception of Mayweather-Pacquiao have underperformed in recent years. One reason for that could be the perception of the main event of a card, could be the overall value of the cards for the asking price to the consumer, or it could be the steady increase in pay-per-view prices over the years, which has some believing that cards may be overpriced. All of the above should be considered.

Floyd Mayweather however, is the best pound for pound fighter in the world in the eyes of many and a fighter with that distinction is often a pay-per-view attraction even when the concept of pay-per-view may not be one that is popular with consumers. For those who were expecting a more exciting fight from Mayweather-Pacquiao and feel that they did not get their money’s worth, one should keep in mind that Floyd Mayweather is a master boxer.

Mayweather is not known as a knockout puncher, but rather as a tactician and a chess player. At the end of the day his job is to win fights regardless of whether he succeeds in entertaining his audience. Although Mayweather does possess the skill, quickness, and hand speed that is capable of scoring knockouts, the appeal of his fights is not whether he will stop his opponent within the distance, but rather if that opponent can solve the puzzle that to date forty-eight previous opponents have been unable to. Whether an opponent can nullify the elusive movement and breakthrough the superb defense and precision timing that is Floyd Mayweather’s Boxing style. Simply put, when it comes to a pure world-class boxer, Floyd Mayweather is as good as they come.

Although this observer was not surprised by the announcement of Mayweather-Berto as being a pay-per-view card and look forward to providing further analysis regarding the fight in the coming weeks and even though the sport as a whole remains pay-per-view centric, I do believe an opportunity was missed here to continue to usher in what may be a new era. An opportunity to give the American public a chance to see the best pound for pound fighter in the world without a pay-per-view price tag as well as what would likely be a guaranteed ratings winner for CBS.

If this does prove to be Mayweather’s swansong as a fighter, some may say that a good way to end his career as one of the sport’s top pay-per-view draws in the last decade would have been to signal the beginning of a new era for his final act. It would be a shame however, if what could be the final fight for a man who will go down in history as a great fighter regardless of the outcome of that fight and regardless of whether fans may like him or not, if that moment in Boxing history were to be largely rejected by consumers. Only time will tell.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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