Posted May 17, 2013

There’s No Time Like the Present for Floyd Mayweather Jr. to Sell Out

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Chelsey Boehnke | chelseyboehnke.com

Floyd Mayweather Jr., who for the second straight year topped Sports Illustrated’s list of the highest-paid American athletes, generated $90 million in earnings last year — with an in-many-ways-more-remarkable $0 coming from endorsements. Let that simmer. Mayweather is one of the most popular sportsmen on the planet, on the level of a LeBron James or Lionel Messi in prestige, but one of the least-marketed away from the ring. There has never been an athlete so well known that hasn’t parlayed his fame into an easy paycheck.

It’s one of the many contradictions at the center of an figure who is at once enigmatic and overexposed, insecure and cocky. For years Mayweather has sold a decadent lifestyle, connecting with the urban market like no fighter since Mike Tyson. His candor and authenticity are unmatched by any other elite athlete, and he can wear, say and do whatever he pleases—a freedom that makes him singular among his Fortunate 50 brethren. That autonomy is a product of his corporate free agency—he is beholden to no one or thing—and offers plenty of value, particularly when it comes to selling PPV buys. But as Mayweather enters the twilight of his fighting career, and the terminus of his fight-related revenue stream comes into view, one thing becomes clear: the world’s richest sportsman might want to start worrying more about his money.

When evaluating companies and their business models, financial analysts look at pricing power—the ability to raises price and still get customers to buy a given product or service. For most of his career Mayweather has had significant pricing power—the PPV price of his 2006 bout against Carlos Baldomir was $49.95; seven years later, his May 4 fight against Robert Guerrero cost $69.99 for HD—but there are signs that power is fading. HBO couldn’t come to terms with him, so he signed a six-fight deal with Showtime that could be worth a ton, but is largely dependent on his performance and reportedly laden with outs. He’s never seemed more rattled than when he was complaining about the HBO negotiations in the recent documentary 30 Days in May; behind the bluster and anger, he basically admitted he’s losing his leverage. Showtime is fine, but in the long run how can Floyd the businessman regain that power—especially once he is no longer in the ring? If he can’t reach a deal with HBO right now, as one of the most popular fighters in history, how does he do it when he is, say, the CEO of a boxing promotion company, and his fighters aren’t nearly as accomplished or widely known?

AP

AP

This might be less of a concern if he were gaining traction with his other ventures, but there’s no indication that he is. Mayweather crows a lot about The Money Team, his lifestyle brand, but what exactly is it? Right now there are only a few pieces of apparel for sale on his site, raising questions about whether it’s a real company or just the glorified equivalent of a band selling concert T-shirts. The same goes for Mayweather Promotions, which is not a licensed promoter in the state of Nevada (hence Floyd’s ongoing relationship with Golden Boy Promotions), and seems otherwise to exist solely for tax advantages.

But while the viability of his businesses may be questionable, the viability of his personality is not. Mayweather is a born showman, and he is fast approaching a point where endorsements make too much sense for him not to pursue them. They provide the greatest payoff from a risk/reward standpoint: you take on no financial risk, and you don’t need to dip into your pocket if the business heads south. Consider Michael Jordan and his Nike-affiliated Jordan Brand, or Roger Federer, who is at a similar career juncture as Mayweather but will likely be cashing checks from Rolex for the next 15 years. Shaquille O’Neal, one of the few athletes of the past two decades whose profile, accomplishments and personality outshine Mayweather’s, seems well-positioned to thrive as a spokesperson in his retirement. (Which is to say nothing of the potential for Mayweather, who clearly fancies himself a hands-on businessman, to forgo paychecks in exchange for equity in a company he endorses, a la David Wright’s arrangement with Vitamin Water.)

This all, of course, assumes that the primary factor in his absence from the pitchman roster has been a lack of willingness or need on his part. It could very well be that companies can’t or won’t pay what Mayweather feels he’s worth, or that his antics scare them off. For the entirety of his career, Floyd’s brash, lavish lifestyle has facilitated a kind of bizarre Ponzi scheme: the more money he has and the more money he flaunts, the more money he is able to generate through his fights. Though his corporate independence feels like wasted earning potential, it has also counterintuitively empowered his brand.

Now that house of cards is beginning to look wobbly. Mayweather’s legacy as a prizefighter is secure: he has spent more than a decade atop an incredibly demanding sport and won championships across five weight divisions. All the while, he’s done things his own way. But that tack is going to become less favorable as the 36-year-old’s career winds down. Without a change of strategy, Mayweather’s post-boxing career as a businessman may produce the one thing his career as a fighter never has: a loss.

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14 comments
gary41
gary41

He would be fine endorsing products of Ghetto kids, but he carries no respect in the real world.  Will he acquire a different PR focus?  That requires major adjustments.  In the past he has not been willing to listen to anyone.  He has been a great boxer, but the real key to his success was ducking Pacquiao. 

NoKasey
NoKasey

"For years Mayweather has sold a decadent lifestyle, connecting with the urban market like no fighter since Mike Tyson."

I'm pretty sure saying black is a lot less offensive than "urban market."  Just one humble honky's opinion.

aaronfarber9
aaronfarber9

This is a silly article. To compare Mayweather with LeBron or Messi is ridiculous-the most famous, dominant players in the two most global sports. Mayweather is a superstar in a niche sport. In most of his big PPVs, the lower seats have always been VIPs but the bulk of the crowd is Latinos rooting against him. Plus let's be honest, Mayweather (regardless of who would've won) is most known for not fighting Pacquiao. Hardly a base for endorsements.

Shaq is one of the few athletes of past 20 years whose popularity, personality is greater than Mayweather. Uhh...Tiger, Kobe, Lance, Michael Phelps, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, I mean the list goes on.

Plus do you think companies want to be associated with someone convicted for domestic assault. Pathetic article.

LeonardoLTorres
LeonardoLTorres

floyd's critics were always saying that floyd is so smart in promoting his fights. unlike what floyd was bragging and continue telling to everyone that he's the money man, the ppv success of his fights cannot be solely credited to him but either to his dance partner too or to the co main events(loaded with mexican superstars). it was successful because during the promotion, floyd and GBP were like selling the product buy 1 get three for the fans. but after the sale, the official receipt has only mayweather's name on it. now we know what's the real number of floyd without those mexican superstars on his event. considering he chooses always a date which belongs to mexican fans!it tells you something, is'nt it?!

RajaKumar
RajaKumar

@gary41 

The real key to his success is the fact he has a brain and uses it not just in the ring but also outside of it he HAS fought the best he can get his hands on and become a wealthy and successful boxer while continuing the stupidity from his haters who continue to line his pockets.

Manny Pacquaios success has come from ducking the best competition and taking on those opponents who are past it including Barrera who had been many wars and was a brawler and Morales who was a slugger so Pacquaio drained him to death and caused him to almost faint in the weigh in. His calculations failed him when Marquez floored him.

Manny NOT Floyd ducked while Floyd attempted to make the deal Pacquaio came up various things to stop it from happening who knows if Manny had a brain and took care of his own business that fight would have happened so people like you could add him to the list of "cherry picks" tyhat Floyd apparently does to people who he is ducking one moment then cherry picked the next.

How and why would a skilled technician like Floyd with the lightning quick speed,sharp reflexes and defensive posture and a ability to adapt to ANY opponent and style at a whim in the ring somehow duck a person who has one style swarms his often slower and less intelligent opponents and has no ability to adapt like he showed against both Bradley and Marquez.

The guy has one setting fight he can't stop and change his tactics Marquez took advantage of this and Marquez is older slower less of a ring general than Floyd.

igotit
igotit

@NoKasey It is more offensive because black is a color. Just because people from African descent have been called blacks, which was actually a term created by whites to identify a group of people, doesn't mean that the people of the label condone that title. 


Goinglow17
Goinglow17

This is a silly post. Mayweather dummies Pacquiao any day of the week, he didn't duck him and it really doesn't matter after Pacman got KTFO by Marquez. If you really think that that's what Floyd is best known for, give your head a shake. Just another Floyd hater, and I bet you watch all his PPVs. As for personality, you must not know the meaning of the word, because if you think Michael Phelps has more personality than Floyd, well, there's not much else to be said. Floyd has more personality than all those athletes combined, most of who have the personality of a wet mop. Everyone knows Floyd smacked that girl and of course no company would want to endorse that, but when you're pulling $100M a year from your fights alone, who needs them? Pathetic post.

RajaKumar
RajaKumar

@aaronfarber9 

You are so far off its unbelievable he was NOt convicted he pled not guilty which means he did not admit to doing anything wrong but could be jailed for the offense which by the way went from 33 years to 6 months reduced to 3 months which means they did not have solid evidence for corporations would and can sell someone like Floyd.

Floyd is not known for not fighting Pacquaio he built his name when most people did not know Pacquaio who only built his brand AFTER Floyd left the guy is suppose to be the next Mayweather killer showing the power of Floyd if Floyd had stayed in the sport no one would have even thought of Pacquaio so this particular part of your comment is way off

RajaKumar
RajaKumar

@LeonardoLTorres You are right but those people on their own won't sell as much without Floyd so the pulling power is still with Floyd plus he did sell 1.4 million buys with Shane Mosley who was not a major PPV star in his own right yet that "Mayweather stopper" aura drew fans in. As far as I know that undercard was not special.

Now we know what? This particular PPv is suppose to sell 1.1 million buys which is not too bad not great but its still good considering no one else in the sport (aside from Manny) can pull those numbers.#No matter what Hispanic fans are always going to be the target as they are the number one fans of the sport

igotit
igotit

@LeonardoLTorres Good point but he also gave them an opportunity to beat him. They just never win. He give them a chance to win on fight against him on their day. If you're talking about undercard then that's a different story 

Action
Action

@RajaKumar @aaronfarber9 @Raja - Regardless, he is a convict, and that has a way of scaring off sponsors.  I'm sure he could endorse all kinds of products, and I think the author correctly assets that he doesn't want to change his lifestyle in order to meet any conditions.  As long as he has been smart with his money, he should be fine in retirement.  Let's face it, even if he "wastes" a million dollars a month, he should still have plenty left for 10 lifetimes. On the other hand, if he's invested tens of millions in Las Vegas real estate, he might actually be broke one of these days.  I would trade places with him, that's for sure.

barjona
barjona

@RajaKumar @Action @aaronfarber9 maybe you need to watch some law and order or something but a plea bargain is an admission of guilt in exchange for a reduced sentence. I'm not saying anything he couldn't get endorsements (or needs any for that matter) , but you should at least be in touch with reality - he plead guilty. 

RajaKumar
RajaKumar

@Action @RajaKumar @aaronfarber9 

The word itself does not officially apply to him as he wasn't convicted in the true sense he plea bargained which allows someone to end a case quickly without admitting guilt and in this case the state did not have enough evidence to actually convict him but they did have the power to drag it out. I agree though that he could be classed as a "ex con" by the media and public and he himself does not defend himself properly to remove that label.

No one really knows what he has his haters say he will broke in a few years after retirement he himself says he has invested in various things to allow him to be rich beyond retirement and AL Haymon is a smart man who has advised him on these things.

I agree once you are use to something you can't instantly change a lot of athletes have failed to make that transition and only a few athletes are smart enough to survive and flourish once they have left their respective sports.

LOL I would also trade places with him