Showtime's commitment to being the destination for major event boxing became as clear as ever when they inked a deal with Floyd Mayweather, close to guaranteeing the world's undisputed best boxer would close out his career on their broadcasts. It was a sound enough business strategy for all involved parties. Showtime was getting some guaranteed big money fights on pay-per-view while Floyd was signing "richest individual athlete deal in all of sports" (per the press release).
Showtime's monetary investment was likely to provide solid returns as Forbes noted "Mayweather’s nine HBO PPV events generated 9.6 million buys and $543 million in television revenue, according to the network. Mayweather has been part of the four biggest non-heavyweight PPV events in boxing history."
In Robert Guerrero, Mayweather will be facing a very legitimate opponent this Saturday in the first fight of his Showtime deal. The first time Guerrero's name came up in connection with a Mayweather fight, the idea seemed crazy given that he'd never fought at welterweight and had spent much of his career at featherweight.
Guerrero addressed those concerns, moving to welterweight and beating Selcuk Aydin and then going to war with Andre Berto. The Berto fight proved Guerrero every bit of a legitimate 147-pound fighter. Berto is strong and has good power and Guerrero was the more physical man and it was his power that had the bigger impact on the fight, dropping Berto to the canvas multiple times.
So, with the fight made and the new Mayweather/Showtime alliance in ink, the network began trotting Mayweather out at every opportunity. Mediocre cards became about Mayweather as he would be cornering fighters or speaking to the Showtime broadcast crew in lengthy segments, the All Access format was utilized, again trying to be Showtime's own version of HBO's 24/7 series that launched Mayweather to superstardom, Floyd was put on CBS during March Madness, a Mayweather documentary aired on the network as well.
And yet...the buzz is lacking at the start of fight week.
The All Access ratings have been abysmal, Showtime's attempts to spin them have not taken away from the very clear fact that not many people are considering All Access to be "appointment viewing." This could well be that the documentary style program focusing on Mayweather in camp just has no more appeal to fans. We've been through it over and over with it feeling less and less fresh every time out. And Showtime not only relied on All Access but the Mayweather documentary on CBS and a special called 30 Days In May that aired to kick off their coverage.
Grantland already covered it, but the 30 Days In May special was especially tasteless as it portrayed Mayweather was painted as a sort of victim after his latest stint in jail for domestic violence charges. This was the third time Mayweather had been sentenced for domestic violence or battery against women and yet somehow he still was able to plea down to misdemeanor battery and get a felony battery charge dismissed. Despite the misdemeanor over felony plea, Mayweather still found a way to produce a documentary about himself where he played "victim of the system."
Guerrero, for his part, has been dragging his wife in front of the camera at every opportunity. Robert and Casey Guerrero's story is a good one. Casey had been diagnosed with leukemia and Robert, rather than pursue his fast rising career as a boxer, vacated his world title in 2010 to be able to devote his time to Casey. A bone marrow donor program was able to match Casey with a potential donor and save her life.
It's a touching story of love and sacrifice in the face of tragic circumstances, but it's also a story that has felt somewhat exploited. Casey's story has been the focus of promoting Guerrero for most of his recent bouts and was almost the only thing that Guerrero media appearances were about ahead of Saturday's fight.
It didn't help that, aside from programs like Good Morning America (I think they just call it GMA these days), the couple appeared on The 700 Club to talk about Casey's cancer and the couple's faith. Not that faith is necessarily a bad thing, but Pat Robertson isn't exactly a moderate voice and the 700 Club isn't exactly immune from bouts of hateful speech. So it may not have been the best program to go on during a PR campaign.
Then, Guerrero went and fumbled the "good guy" image by bringing a .40 caliber handgun onto an airplane at JFK airport and picking up an arrest that will almost certainly come with jail time given New York's ultra-strict gun laws. Guerrero and his camp claimed that the handgun, not something one would hunt with, was being brought along as the "media knows he is a hunter and requested he bring the weapon for a photo op."
Beyond that, the two men have been extraordinarily bland in the lead-up to the fight. Floyd is still Floyd. He has the occasional solid quote such as when asked about the aforementioned Guerrero gun arrest, musing that "A lot of the time you see guys that are hypocrites. For instance, like, you got a guy that's always preaching like he's a preacher, like he loves God more than anyone else, and I feel that we're all equal when it's all said and done. You got this guy that's preaching, going to 'The 700 Club,' he's acting like he's a pastor, but he gets caught with a gun, he's got Marilyn Monroe on the wall at his house -- these guys are hypocrites, but you live, you learn. That's not really my focus. They were joking about me doing time. What goes around comes around. A week after the fight, it's time for him to do his time."
Aside from those occasional moments where a good quote comes tumbling out, there's simply very little juice as fight week kicks off.
But Mayweather is still an attraction. It's possible that people don't care about the build but still will tune in with the same fervor for this Floyd fight as they usually do. If they do, I have a feeling they're going to be treated to a hell of a fight.