Floyd Mayweather: A Brand in Action and Its Impact on Income
In combat sports, such as MMA and boxing, what brings in the Pay-Per-View (PPV) dollars and attention is not necessarily the sport, but the fighter. For some, the fight itself is more than two people fighting; it’s the visual embodiment on many of the fighter’s struggles, and an example where there is a true winner and loser. It is a fact that interesting fighters draw more money than boring fighters. Fighters with huge followings generate huge PPV numbers, which is the real genius behind Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s “Money” persona.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is from Grand Rapids, Michigan and grew up in a family of boxers. Both his father and his uncle, who is also his current trainer, were professional fighters. As an amateur he went 84-6 and won the national Golden Gloves championships in 1993. Mayweather also won bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics (many people think his semi-final bout, which he lost, was scored incorrectly, and based off the video from YouTube, it looked like Mayweather won).
Mayweather operated under the nickname “Pretty Boy Floyd” during his early professional career, a name he received while fighting as an amateur. While Mayweather was one of the great fighters because of his technical skills, his lightning fast hand speed, and his flawless defense, he didn’t make as much money per fight as he does now. This is because when he adopted the “Money” persona he became more polarizing, and with his perfect undefeated record, became a fighter people loved to hate. His fight against Oscar De La Hoya in 2007 had a record 2.4 million PPV buys and since then every fight has sold over 1 million views.
After following Floyd Mayweather Jr. for a couple years it is clear that Floyd “Money Mayweather is not who he is all the time. It is simply a public personality to sell PPV and tickets. It is also incredibly smart. Below this paragraph is a YouTube video of HBO’s 24/7, where HBO gives four episodes to following their two biggest fighters before a big fight. The show is a way to get casual fans, and people on the fence about paying for the fight to hop the fence.
Here is a sound byte video from the series (there is some NSFW language, but this is the persona).
For Floyd Mayweather this is the easiest way for him to spread his brand, as he is on television, worldwide, and can try and control content. He actually tweeted earlier this week about how he was upset with the production crew for not making the show as good as it possibly could.
HBO also recently gave Floyd Mayweather 30 minutes called Speaking Out where Floyd had a conversation with Michael Eric Dyson. In that conversation Floyd stated (and I’m paraphrasing) that he was a young, rich, black man. Dyson has said in previous works about rapper Tupac Shakur that America doesn’t like outspoken black men, which is something Tupac was. Floyd Mayweather also fits the role of an outspoken black man as he has said things that aren’t politically correct.
Most recently Floyd Mayweather said that Jeremy Lin is getting a whole lot of attention for doing something that black basketball players go out and do every night. The tweet was on SportsCenter and discussed throughout the week on almost every sports channel. For an athlete like Floyd, his brand is being the loud, controversial, polarizing fighter that you will either love or hate. He doesn’t’ care if you hate him, because he knows if you feel strongly you will care about how he does and possibly even PPV his fights.
What makes Floyd’s external persona work is his undefeated record. He is 42-0 and will move up a weight class to fight reigning World Champion Miguel Cotto. He is a heavy favorite in betting odds. As long as Floyd Mayweather is undefeated he can have this personality, if he loses, then his brand may have to be re-evaluated or it may lose some authenticity. However, the only way that there is a realistic possibility of Mayweather losing is if he fights Manny Pacquiao, which I don’t think will happen in the near future, if ever. There is a crucial component to Floyd Mayweather that Mr. Mayweather has probably said best:
Money doesn’t make Floyd, Floyd makes money.
Jeff Garrett is a commentator for AEA and a sports business consultant for everybody else. When he’s not playing lacrosse or RISK, you can most likely find him managing his fantasy sports teams. To reach out to Jeff, just leave a snarky comment in the box below.