It’s been 17 years since Floyd Mayweather fought on free broadcast television. But that might change for the boxer’s next — and possibly final — contest, scheduled for Sept. 12.
Mayweather has one match remaining on the three-year, six-fight contract he signed with CBS/Showtime in 2013. His past five bouts have been Showtime pay-per-view events, but fighting on CBS would fulfill that deal. As an industry source told CBSSports.com’s Lyle Fitzsimmons, an appearance on the over-the-air network was always a possibility with the contract.
Prior to his deal with CBS/Showtime, Mayweather’s previous eight bouts were on HBO pay-per-view. The last time he fought on a non-PPV event was for HBO in the aforementioned match with Sharmba Mitchell in Nov. 2005.
What would motivate Mayweather to fight on CBS? A Sept. 12 fight is only nine weeks away, which is typically much less time than a pay-per-view event is given to put together. The last time Mayweather announced his next fight with so little time before the scheduled date was 10 years ago, when he revealed he was fighting Mitchell one month before the scheduled Nov. 19 bout.
MLive.com’s David Mayo points out that CBS has an opening on its broadcast schedule for Sept. 12, with no college football game currently booked on that night. Even if the opponent was Karim Mayfield or Andre Berto — neither of whom is a top-ranked contender — Mayweather’s star power, in addition to the possibility that this could be his final fight, would surely be enough to draw a large audience. And with that national showcase, the undefeated welterweight champion isn’t going to match up against a legitimate contender like Amir Khan or Keith Thurman.
Fighting for free on CBS could also help soothe some sore feelings over the pay-per-view costs and results from Mayweather’s fight versus Manny Pacquiao on May 2. Numerous cable and satellite providers experienced outages leading up to the bout, enraging customers who spent $100 to buy the PPV event and resulting in the fight actually being delayed. Additionally, promoters faced multiple class-action lawsuits from fans who felt that Pacquiao knowingly fought with a shoulder injury that prevented him from competing at full strength.
Most boxing observers and insiders don’t believe that Mayweather’s next fight will be his last one. Not with a future massive payday awaiting a potential rematch with Pacquiao. And what better way to promote such a fight and get fans excited for the next $100 PPV purchase than to fight on CBS and be seen by the widest possible audience on free television?
But even if a rematch with Pacquiao doesn’t happen, Mayweather could fight Khan or Thurman on pay-per-view and earn another eye-popping paycheck. Yet for that to fall into place, it would likely be in Mayweather’s best interests to reach out to the public and offer them something. Fighting for free on CBS could be the goodwill gesture boxing fans need to open their wallets again.