Floyd Mayweather is scheduled to return to the ring on May 4th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. That much is known. It is assumed he will be facing Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero on this date (although Mayweather caused quite the stir on Twitter by announcing that he was close to making a deal to face IBF welterweight belt-holder Devon Alexander: twitter.com/FloydMayweather/299). So why hasn't this been announced by Golden Boy Promotions (which has handled the nuts and bolts of every Mayweather event since 2007)? Usually, in promoting and marketing a major pay-per-view event, there is a 90-day window from the opening press conference to the actual date of the fight.
So what's the hold-up?
Well, according to informed sources within the industry, it's no longer a sure thing that HBO (which has carried Mayweather's fights exclusively for well over a decade) will be distributing this promotion. And for the first time, upper management at Time-Warner has legitimate concerns whether it will hold on to this valuable franchise. Make no doubt about it; Showtime is very much in play to be the pay-per-view home of Mayweather vs. Guerrero.
Over the past year or so, Showtime's Championship Boxing has featured Golden Boy content, exclusively. Les Moonves, President and CEO of the CBS corporation, has been under the impression they would soon be in the Mayweather business (and unlike their dalliance with Manny Pacquiao and Top Rank a couple of years ago, this would be more than just a one-off). It wouldn't be the first time this network has gone all-in when it comes to an iconic boxer. Back in the early-1990s, they entered the (Don) King-dom to ride the Mike Tyson Express in exchange for exclusivity and a whole lotta Keith Holmes and Fabrice Tiozzo on their airwaves.
So is there a legitimate chance Mayweather will land under the Showtime/CBS umbrella? Perhaps, but there is also this reality: when it comes to staging pay-per-views, people in the industry will tell you it's HBO that has the real expertise and experience in this realm (it's one of the reasons Arum took the “Pac-Man” back to HBO after just one fight). But there's also this factor - Al Haymon. The most powerful adviser in all of boxing, who seems to have a Machiavellian sway with television executives and the power to turn promoters into his personal puppets, has his influence at HBO (mainly from his association with Mayweather) and this inexplicable ability to get what he wants and parlay favorable paydays for his other clients. Call it “prosperity by association” (just ask Andre Berto). If “Money” turns up on Showtime, he will no longer be able to flex his “Mayweather Muscles” - as they are called within the industry - on HBO. Say what you will about Haymon but the man is good at his job and has been a master at playing both sides (in this case, HBO and Showtime) against each other to get what he wants.
Now, what about Saul “Canelo” Alvarez? This might be the wild card here. The bright young Mexican star, who saw his big payday against Miguel Cotto evaporate as an ill-advised fishing expedition by the Puerto Rican icon versus Austin Trout back in December, scuttled those plans (or at least we think it did). Alvarez is said to be balking at playing the supporting role (again) on a big Cinco de Mayo promotion. While he wouldn't be the main event on this show, there is no doubt he is vital to the bottom line of this card because he moves the needle much more than “The Ghost,” who might carry Gilroy but isn't bringing a huge Mexican constituency like Alvarez does.
It was reported and assumed that Alvarez would be on this card as a prelude to a September showdown with Mayweather in September. But without assurances of actually facing Mayweather, Alvarez may not be so willing to appear once again as a supporting player on this date (despite being a young, rising Mexican star, last year, he was the semi-main on Cinco de Mayo as he took on the faded Shane Mosley last May. Then his bout with Josesito Lopez on Mexican Independence Day weekend in September was largely overshadowed by the bout featuring Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. just a few blocks away at the Thomas and Mack Center).
The Alvarez-Lopez card was aired on Showtime and pulled in a very strong number for the network. Mayweather is certainly the present while “Canelo” is a big part of the future. Who knows where this will all end up? More than one industry insider thinks HBO will retain the services of Mayweather and Alvarez will be moved off to another date on Showtime (as Moonves gets his partial pound of flesh).
But it seems the gap between the two networks, once as wide as the Grand Canyon, is closing quickly.
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