Going into Saturday’s battle at the MGM Grand between Floyd “Money” Mayweather (48-0-0, 26 KOs) vs. Andre Berto, (30-3-0, 23 KOs) as evidenced by the less than healthy ticket sales, not to mention the disappointment of Showtime executives, the interest is less on what Mayweather and Berto will deliver against one another in the ring, but what both fighters will do post September 12th, with the most interested and focused eye on the ever media lovely Mayweather. To the detriment of Berto, the popular opinion is that given his spotty record since recovering from what he once believed was a career ending shoulder injury in 2013, he simply can no longer give Floyd anything that Floyd can’t handle. Pair this with the unanswered question as to whether Berto could have posed a serious threat to Mayweather pre injury, and fairly or unfairly most fans aren’t revved up enough to cough up healthy leafy green revenue for this fight. As for Mr. “Money”, most are hard pressed to believe that Mayweather, notoriously averse to not having a bright light shining on his avalanche of achievements, will ever be able to leave the ring with as unanticipated a battle as this one seems to be turning out to be. Then take into account the temptation for Mayweather to end what is, no matter what one’s feelings are about Floyd’s actions outside of the ring, a spectacular record by going the extra mile and capping it with the lovely round numbers of 50 and 0. Flamboyant at fifty seems more Mayweather’s style versus going quietly into that dark night at what could be an unremarkably mousy forty-ninth battle.
To that highly suspected case in point, during Mayweather’s last conference call going into Saturday’s battle, Floyd just barely sidestepped his own gilding of the lily after being caught in a verbal slip that would have seemed to reveal a real fluidity versus the stated intractability of Mayweather’s claims of encroaching retirement:
Mayweather: “ Are you just getting into the Floyd Mayweather business? You should know what I’ve done to Canelo, Pacquiao and Cotto. So I’m through with them. Why would I fight them in my 50th fight?
And then, naturally what immediately circled back as surely as a boomerang in the Australian Outback:
Press: “Are you having second thoughts because of your previous comment about their possibly being a 50th fight?
And in response, as quickly as any good alpha waving off lesser carnivores who have caught a whiff of a kill on which they will most definitely not feast: “Like I’ve said and Floyd has a number of times, this will be his last fight, ” tersely stated Mayweather Promotions CEO, Leonard Ellerbe, ending the subject bluntly in name only, but missing wide in severing it’s soul. Why? Because those who know understand that indicative of the severely less than hoped for ticket sales for Mayweather vs. Berto, paired with what Showtime Executive Vice President Stephen Espinosa touted early on as “ tremendous viewer ship” for ALL ACCESS “Mayweather vs. Berto,” likely it is precisely this subject, will he or won’t he - independent of the fight scheduled to happen in the ring on Saturday, that looms largest for fans in deciding whether they will actually use their hard earned dollars to see what in all likelihood will not be Mayweather’s final tete a tete against a less than perfect final opponent.
With the bad taste that Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao (57-6-2,38KOs) wrought, selling but failing to deliver as the iconic fight of the century, continuing up to this day to suffer from revelations of Pacquiao’s unreported shoulder issues and recent revelations of this week that Mayweather used banned saline and vitamins via intravenous injection, and that fight along with Saturday’s battle have the makings of somewhat sullied versus pristine ground under which Mayweather is looking to cap his legacy. Adding these two fights up as the last of a body of forty-nine legend making fights, and it’s just not the way that a king, such as Mayweather wants to be perceived, should leave his kingdom. Indeed, for his own finely tuned sense of legend and pomp and circumstance, Floyd would seem to be moved to take that extra step away from all the accusations, the bad publicity and the mediocre ticket sales towards the golden light that the right kind of fiftieth battle might bring – albeit on the hunch that the 49th might not turn out to be what everyone was hoping it might reveal itself to mean.