Inside Lines: Forget Gareth Bale – Floyd Mayweather is the Half A Billion Dollar Man


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The Independent Online

When all the sums are totted up after next Saturday's "superfight" in Las Vegas between the inimitable Floyd Mayweather Jnr and his similarly unbeaten Mexican opponent Saul "Canelo" Alvarez it will dwarf even Gareth Bale's £85.3 million transfer fee as the richest one-off sports happening in history.

Early indications are that the final gross revenue for gate receipts, global TV rights and ancillaries will exceed £120m. No wonder Mayweather calls himself The Money Man — though actually he doesn't any more. He has re-tagged himself The Half A Billion Dollar Man in the light of projected earnings from a new TV contract.

The MGM Grand sold out within 12 hours with £1,350 ringside seats now fetching £30,000 online. All box-office records will be smashed with a £15m take, but the real dosh will be raked in from global pay-per-view which, when Mayweather fought Oscar de la Hoya six years ago, fetched a then high of £83m from the 24m tuning in. This one is even bigger because there are those who believe that red-headed, thunder-punching Alvarez, 23, undefeated in 43 contests to the 36-year-old Mayweather's untarnished 46, could be the young nemesis who finally forces boxing's greatest modern champion to cash in his chips.

Mentor De la Hoya, who came as close as anyone to dethroning Mayweather in the last decade, losing on a split decision, certainly thinks so. "If Alvarez doesn't knock him out inside eight rounds I'll be surprised," he says, perhaps showing a little Latin bias.

Mayweather, sublime master of the defensive art, admits it may be his toughest yet but expects to walk away with at least £40m plus a 24-carat gold belt specially created for this world super-welterweight unifcation bout. It looks a perfect match and will be some scrap. Hope it's worth the money.

The kid's big night

The MGM Grand it ain't, but the Magna Centre in Rotherham hosts potentially an equally absorbing boxer-puncher clash on the same night when another two undefeated fighters, Kid Galahad (real name Abdul Barry Awad), a flashy stylist in the mould of his mate Naseem Hamed, and big-hitter Jazza Dickens contest the British super-bantam title live on Channel 5. Compared to the mega-rich pickings in Vegas their combined four-figure purse will be pin money but the punches will be just as hurtful. Also well worth watching.

Wrestling to stay in rings

The current International Olympic Committee session in Buenos Aires is expected to confirm today that wrestling will keep a grip on its Olympic status thanks to the political pressure group headed by Russia's President Putin. Shame, because squash — shortlisted in a three-cornered fight with wrestling and baseball/softball — surely deserves its day on court. But all hope may not be lost.

Regime change — a new IOC president will be elected on Tuesday — could see the sport squeeze in, if not in 2016 then four years later. Several candidates, including favourite Thomas Bach, are keen on decreasing the number of competitors in multi-disciplined sports.

Such cut-backs might allow squash – which reckons it would require only 65 athletes, men and women, plus 25 officials – a route to the Games programme. Better late than never.

Not much of a racket

Fewer kids are playing games, according to Goverment figures. Well, they certainly don't appear to be playing tennis. Has Andy Murray's Wimbledon victory really inspired a generation? Not in my neck of the woods, just a few miles from the Centre Court.

Just over a year later, on a recce during the school holidays at my local park I saw only one of eight courts regularly occupied — by a quartet of pensioners. There were a few knocking up at a nearby tennis complex, which has over a dozen courts, but none under 25. Whoever comes in as the next chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Tennis Association obviously needs a new game plan. No kidding.