Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Floyd Mayweather has had an enormous impact on boxing, on business and, yes, on Showtime.
“Well, I started at Showtime about three years ago, and when I started, we decided we really wanted to elevate what we were doing and make a splash,” Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The No. 1 way to do that is really to go after the No. 1 star in the sport, and it was something that we thought was maybe undoable. Floyd had been at HBO at that point for 14 years, but we chased and chased and finally got him. We couldn’t have made a bigger statement in terms of what it meant for the programming, what it meant for the visibility and for sending the message that we’re in this on the big-time level.”
Espinoza would like to keep sending that message. Mayweather, however, has stated that his fight against Andre Berto (30-3, 24 KOs) at MGM Grand on Sept. 12 will be his last. This is bittersweet for Showtime. After all, when Mayweather (48-0, 26 KOs) puts on a show, people show up – and they spend money.
Espinoza would love to sign a new deal with Mayweather and have him headline the opening of the new MGM Arena next May.
“I would love to,” he said. “I would love to do six more fights with him, if at all possible. But the reality is he’s 38 years old. He’s been doing this 19 years. Nineteen years in any professional sport is a long time, but in boxing it’s like in dog years. So when he says, ‘Look, I’m just ready, I can see that I’m at the end of the line,’ (he means it). He doesn’t want to be one of those guys that hangs on for two or three fights too long and becomes a bit of a sad fixture on the scene. I think the reason why people disbelieve the fact that he’s going to retire is he’s still at the top of his game. He’s coming off the biggest win of this career in dominant fashion and it’s almost unthinkable that he would retire at this point. But when you look back in content of 19 straight years of doing this as a professional boxer, you can sort of see why he might want to hang it up.”
But if Mayweather isn’t interested in a six-fight deal, how about a one-fight deal? A rematch with Manny Pacquiao, perhaps? A potential shot at 50-0?
Is one more fight after Berto possible?
“We’re certainly going to try,” Espinoza said. “Nothing has worked thus far, but it’s not going to stop me. He’s still got gas in the tank left. I think they’re still interested in getting maybe that rematch and certainly other fights. So it’s not going to keep me from trying. But for the time being, Floyd has pretty much said, ‘After Sept. 12, don’t call me; I’ll call you.’ We’re not going to listen. He’s going to get flowers, he’s going to get chocolates, he’s going to get whatever it will take. We’re going to try to talk him back out of it, but so far, nothing has convinced him.”