Floyd Mayweather: Respect vs. The Check

Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

Floyd Mayweather is a boxing purist.

Contrary to popular belief, Mayweather is as pure a boxing fan as they come until the game disrespected him.

Back when he was “Pretty Boy Floyd” and signed to Bob Arum’s Top Rank promotional banner, Mayweather was making what he would consider peanuts now.

He sought the respect o of the fans and fought everyone from Diego Corrales, Emanuel Augustus, Zab Judah, and more. The best fighting the best in their prime.

Yes, he won his first world title by beating a 32-year-old Genaro “Chicanito” Hernández. But leading up to that, Hernandez was on a 6-fight win streak that included a win over Azumah Nelson.

However, the 7-figure paydays seemed paltry to him, and when he wanted to push past the glass ceiling Top Rank placed on him, he quickly realized boxing was never set up for the athlete to win in the end, regardless of the stat sheet.

Like a Las Vegas house of sin, the house always wins, and in this case, the promoter controlled the house.

It was then that Mayweather decided firmly not to let the game control him or impose limitations. He would have to change the way he played the game.

Aligned with his longtime advisor Al Haymon and partner, Leonard Ellerbe, the trio devised, monetized, and in essence franchised the “Money Mayweather” model.

It started with a defiant purchase of his career for $750k to become his boss. He then evolved in the immediate staging of a capitalist-driven caricature of excess and forward progress. It ended in being the holder of five of the top ten highest-grossing pay-per-view events of all time.

Floyd knew that “Pretty Boy” was too wrapped in respect but that “Money May” would generate the check.

He gambled on the vicious boozing fans shredding apart his career as the poster boy of ducking for what they would consider easy paydays.

However, none of them had a father and two uncles who never created generational wealth after a lifetime of being professional gladiators. Floyd knew that boxing had an untapped level, and he saw how to get there.

Albeit timing and inches that crept to slowly then consistently to the highest-paid athlete’s list of Forbes annually, Mayweather never broke stride once he figured out the algorithm for ultimate success in boxing.

A boxer should never base their potential on the wants and desires of the people solely. The people will push Muhammad Ali to fight Leon Spinks at 36 or Trevor Berbick at 39 when he should have been more financially solvent as an international icon.

The fans’ interest dictates the fights, but if you can make yourself the most interesting man in the sport, in the words of T.I., ‘you can do whatever you like, aye!’

After his exhibition bout against Logan Paul in Miami on Sunday, June 6th, Mayweather took the time to set the record straight in the post-fight presser.

He knew that the 30,000 tickets sold in the Hard Rock Stadium would look better than the PPV numbers on SHOWTIME, but he was at peace with the pending worldwide critique.

What Mayweather understood was that boxing does not love its gladiators back wholly. They respect a champion and revere the ever-present threat of danger they face for a prize, but their love is fleeting and inconsistent.

Consistent is negativity—hateful critiques from those who’ve never laced the gloves or dared to step into the squared circle.

That judge, jury, and executioner in identifiable media members and unidentifiable internet trolls are insatiable. Instead, Mayweather steered the energy towards his bank accounts.

Now at 44 years old, he sits as the reigning cash king of a sport he was never expected to thrive within. He existed as the most polarizing figure arguably in sports history, not just boxing, and proudly declared himself “TBE” or the best ever because he is.

Mayweather set an immeasurable standard of how to become a boxer-businessman. A measure that you see in every fighter who has his promotional banner to fight on. In young fighters like Devin Haney, who are starting their careers as their boss.

Floyd Mayweather is a boxing purring, and he was punished in the ring and at the bank for being one. In a professional sporting landscape where respect sells events, Mayweather gave you rivalry and earned his respect with every win.

But he fought for the check, not your respect.

In retrospect, you have to respect that.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.