Money doesn't talk, it swears.
It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
By Ivan G. Goldman
Estimates of how much Floyd Mayweather will earn for his Sept. 14 showdown against Canelo Alvarez are bouncing all over the place. When I saw a prediction of $90 million, I assumed it was wildly optimistic, but it’s supported by two decent sources — Sports Illustrated and Forbes.
SI figures the Canelo fight will push Mayweather’s 2013 earnings to a minimum $90 million and that they could go as high as $128 million. Either way it lists him as Number One in projected 2013 earnings for sports stars. Assuming SI doesn’t expect Floyd to participate in a third match this year, it must figure he could make as much as $94 million from the Canelo fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
How do I arrive at that figure? Assume SI accepts the figure of $34 million as Floyd’s gross earnings for his disappointing Showtime pay-per-view debut against Robert Guerrero May 4. Subtract $34 million from $128 million and you get $94 million.
Also on that 2013 Sports Illustrated list, the Miami Heat’s LeBron James came in No. 2, followed by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, the L.A. Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and golf-dom’s Tiger Woods, who used to be Number One year after year.
Although Sports Illustrated is a decent source in these matters, Forbes is better and it’s now projecting 1.6 million pay-per-view buys generating approximately $105 million, with $50 million of that going to Mayweather on top of his $40 million guarantee. Yes, fans, that adds up to $90 million.
Forbes has powerful business sources, and when you want accurate measurements of pay-per-view proceeds and endorsements, corporate insiders are the people to call. Floyd, thanks to his record of slapping around women, gets zero endorsement money.
Showtime and Mayweather, who famously signed a six-fight contract of some kind when the Number One pound for pound fighter left HBO behind, release only the details they want known about their financial arrangements. They repeatedly refer to what they tell us is his “record-breaking” contract but have done a fine job of covering up the details. Whatever the numbers, they were clearly more beneficial to Floyd and his “advisor” Al Haymon than the one that was offered by their former partner, HBO.
HBO probably has an excellent idea what’s in the Showtime deal because its executives were given a chance to beat it, but at some point they slipped out of the auction house and since then have, like Showtime, played their cards close to the vest.
Revealing specifics provides intelligence data to the enemy, and Mayweather’s switch raised the enmity between the two networks into the stratosphere. Not long after Showtime announced it stole away Floyd, HBO’s Jim Lampley provided an even-handed, penetrating look behind the scenes of that bidding in his excellent new show “The Fight Game,” but we never found out whether HBO was willing to raise its previous payments, and if so, by how much. Clearly at some point the executives at Time-Warner, HBO’s parent company, decided they’d had enough. After all, Floyd is in great shape, but there’s a limit to how much they were willing to promise a fighter who turned 36 in February.
Even though the Nevada commission releases the amounts of fighters’ purses, these figures tell only part of the story when we try to determine per-fight earnings because proceeds from pay-per-view and closed circuit showings at theaters and other venues aren’t added in. It takes many weeks to count those sums. Middlemen wet their beaks along the way.
Mayweather is technically his own promoter, which adds more to his percentage. Golden Boy Promotions has a fight-by-fight deal with him but presumably accepts a smaller percentage of the bigger cake that’s baked when Floyd fights. Golden Boy refuses to predict the September extravaganza will top the record set at 2.4 million-plus buys for Floyd versus Oscar De La Hoya in a mostly disappointing, decidedly unmemorable 2007 bout.
Oscar earned a record $52 million in that one, but it looks like that record will be broken this September. Forbes figures Mayweather’s biggest payday to date was against Miguel Cotto last year — $45 million.
All this offers added inducements to Canelo. Although his earnings will be well behind Mayweather’s, if he beats the odds and scores an upset, he can dream of someday earning $90 million of his own.
This article was first published in BoxingInsider.com. The link can be found at
New York Times best-selling author Goldman's latest title, Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag (Potomac, June 2013 can be purchased at Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and better bookstores everywhere.
Causes Ivan Goldman Supports
American Heart Association
National Alliance on Mental Illness
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