(Ethan Miller/Getty) In recent weeks, the boxing world has heavily criticized Floyd Mayweather for reportedly picking Andre Berto, a low-level fighter who has lost three of his last six fights, as his September opponent in what Mayweather has claimed will be his final fight before retiring.
However, a new, and popular, theory has emerged explaining Mayweather's rationale — this won't actually be his last fight.
According to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith — who originally reported that Mayweather texted him saying he'd be willing to give Manny Pacquiao a rematch — Mayweather is planning to use Berto as a "tuneup" for a possible rematch against Pacquiao or a more formidable opponent.
"I've never believed [Mayweather was going to retire in September]. I don't believe that. I think Mayweather knows that," Smith said. "I think Mayweather is using this [fight with Berto] as a tuneup, and then he's going to give Manny Pacquiao a rematch.
"It's almost one of those things where it's a tuneup, it's going to be perceived as a cake-walk in a lot of people's eyes. And he's like, 'I'm Money Mayweather, I'm giving you me on free TV. You don't have to pay for it at all. It's a tuneup similar to what Manny Pacquiao did to Chris Algieri. And then I'm going to come out of retirement and I'll fight a Manny Pacquiao, or a Miguel Cotto if Cotto is lucky enough to beat Canelo Alvarez.'"
After initially saying he would give Pacquiao a rematch, Mayweather reconsidered and bashed Pacquiao for attempting to use his shoulder injury as an excuse for his poor performance. Mayweather called Pacquiao a "coward," and said he had no desire to grant the former eight-division title-holder a rematch. Despite this, the belief that Mayweather would actually reconsider, and end his career with one last rematch against Pacquiao, makes a lot of sense on a number of levels.
(Al Bello/Getty Images) For one, the timing makes sense. A few days after the fight Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, it was revealed Pacquiao had to undergo surgery on a torn rotator cuff. His 9-12 month recovery time would make him unavailable to fight in September — the date of Mayweather's presumed last fight — but available for a fight later the next year.
This theory would also explain why Mayweather, who's made millions of dollars as a result of pay-per-view sales, is attempting to air his September fight for free on CBS. Many have speculated boxing fans would refuse to pay large amounts of money to buy Mayweather's next fight on pay-per-view since a fight would Berto would be so dramatically one-sided, and many were disappointed with Mayweather's last pay-per-view fight against Pacquiao.
Airing the Berto fight for free would please fans. And, with his six-fight contract with Showtime/CBS complete, Mayweather could then air his last fight, a presumed rematch against Pacquiao, on pay-per-view with whichever network offers him the largest possible payout. The first Mayweather-Pacquiao fight shattered records, with Mayweather alone taking home a reported $200 million in total earnings.
This would explain Mayweather's current standoff in contract negotiations with Showtime/CBS over the Berto fight. ESPN's boxing expert Dan Rafel suspects Showtime/CBS is worried about this exact scenario eventually taking place, and want to make sure if he does, in fact, come out of retirement for a 50th fight, then they have the rights to air it:
9/12 Floyd fight still not set. Issues there. Floyd says he's retiring but Show/CBS want rights to future fights should he change mind.— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) July 27, 2015
Show/CBS not about to let Floyd decide to return to possibly go 50-0 & take fight across street. This is 1 of reasons for long delay.— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) July 27, 2015
Lastly, while many believe Mayweather's primary, and only, concern is money, Mayweather has still shown he cares about his legacy and wants to be known, not just as the greatest boxer of this generation, but, as the greatest boxer of all-time.
This is a man who markets himself, and his brand, embodied with the acronym "TBE," The Best Ever. If Mayweather does fight two more times, and wins both, he could then retire with a perfect 50-0 record, surpassing the legendary Rocky Marciano and his undefeated record of 49-0.
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