Rumors abound that not only will pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather’s fight on Sept. 12 – which he insists will be the last of his career as he finishes his six-fight deal with Showtime/CBS – come against former titleholder Andre Berto, but that it will also be on CBS, not on pay-per-view, as his past 13 consecutive bouts have been.
There has, of course, been no confirmation (or denial) from anyone on Team Mayweather – and Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe’s phone has been going straight to a full voicemail for the past few days -- or from CBS and Showtime about either aspect of the bout. But Berto, whom Mayweather has mentioned several times as a possible opponent, issued a statement on Wednesday about the prospect of being the chosen opponent.
"I'm happy to be in the running for this fight and am definitely up for the challenge. I know it will be a great fight if it happens,” said Berto, whose best days have probably past him by.
Berto (30-3, 23 KOs) twice won versions of the welterweight title and currently holds an interim belt. But although he has won two fights in a row, they were against lesser opposition. Before that the 31-year-old lost two fights in a row and also suffered a severe arm injury that kept him out of action for 14 months.
A Mayweather fight with Berto certainly pales in comparison to the two opponents who have gotten the most fan and media interest (and who deserve it a lot more): Amir Khan (whose non-stop lobbying efforts seem to have gone for naught) and Keith Thurman.
Whomever Mayweather faces, there is a good chance it will be on CBS with the fight positioned as something of a goodwill move to soothe fans still angry about the $100 pay-per-view price tag for his less-than-exciting showdown with Manny Pacquiao on May 2, a fight that set the pay-per-view record with 4.4 million buys, paid Mayweather around $220 million but failed miserably to live up to even a small fraction of the considerable hype.
If the fight is on CBS, Showtime/CBS likely will still owe Mayweather (48-0, 26 KOs) in the $35 million neighborhood, same as if it was on Showtime PPV. That means it would have to sell a lot of advertising for the fight – or take the financial hit.
Mayweather, who already has Sept. 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas reserved after the Nevada State Athletic Commission granted his request for the date, is in training camp for the fight. He recently posted photos indicating that he has opened camp, despite not saying who his opponent would be.
The notion that the fight could be on CBS seems quite possible because if he was going to be on pay-per-view it should have already been announced, with fight night less than two months away. Two months would be the minimum amount of time needed to mount a decent promotion for a major PPV fight. If it’s on CBS – and, therefore, free to the public – it would not need nearly as long of a promotion geared toward convincing folks to part with their money to buy the PPV.
Another potential opponent Mayweather has repeatedly mentioned is San Francisco’s Karim Mayfield (19-2-1, 11 KOs), 34, who is not even on Berto’s level and much less known. When Mayweather mentioned him to the media in late June as he was promoting the Shawn Porter-Adrien Broner fight Mayweather Promotions was involved in, many press members took it as a joke, even though Mayweather came off as serious.
Mayfield, of course, said he would love the fight. (Who wouldn’t?)
"I'm always ready to fight anyone anywhere," Mayfield said. "The fact that the great Floyd Mayweather has mentioned me as someone he wants to fight in September is music to my ears. It would be an honor to fight Floyd in Las Vegas. He's done a lot for the sport and he's arguably the best fighter to ever lace 'em up.
“My last few fights have been at 140 pounds, and I know the extra weight would make me more powerful. I fought Francisco Santana at 152 pounds and gave him his only KO loss. I'm very powerful and comfortable at that weight. I know I would give Floyd all he can handle. My trainer, Ben Bautista, and I have a game plan we know will be successful against Mayweather. I'd give Floyd his first loss in a highly explosive fight."
Mayfield also tried to make the case he was a better choice for Mayweather than Berto.
"No disrespect to Andre Berto. He's a good fighter and we have a mutual respect for one another, but he's not as durable as I am,” Mayfield said. “Berto has two losses against opponents Floyd has already defeated (Robert Guerrero and Victor Ortiz). I've never been dropped, battered or bruised in any of my fights. I bring a rough style to this fight, a style the fans want to see Floyd up against.
“In addition, the Bay Area is a big media market and I know all my fans here would rise up and support me. My brother, La Ron, and I, who are independent, sold out my last fight in San Francisco. I'm confident we can bring a big crowd to Las Vegas. It's only an hour fight away."