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Steve Bunce on Boxing: Floyd Mayweather back in business his way, 'the Money way'


Floyd 'Money' Mayweather is officially the highest-paid sportsman in the world having earned $85m during an eight-month period ending in May last year.

This Saturday Mayweather returns to the ring for the first time since making $45m beating Miguel Cotto last May when he fights Robert Guerrero, a four-time world champion, at the MGM, Las Vegas. Guerrero is the champion, he is younger and he has lost just once in 35 fights but, make no mistake, this is the Mayweather show once again.

Mayweather is well on his way to smashing all of the existing records for earnings in the boxing business. He has so far won 20 world title fights at five different weights and his nine pay-per-view fights have attracted 9.6 million buys and generated $543m.

His 2007 fight with Oscar De La Hoya, who was the main attraction and walked away with $52m on the night, is the sport's biggest-grossing fight and cleared 134 million in pay-per-view sales with 2.5 million buys. De La Hoya, and not Mike Tyson, is at the moment boxing's biggest earner having sold 12.6 million buys during his spectacular pay-per-view career and generated $610m. Mayweather has his sights firmly set on De La Hoya's record.

"Oscar was a great fighter and a great businessman," admitted Mayweather, who is unbeaten in 43 fights. "I'm doing my business the Money way and going for his records."

Mayweather, 36, recently ended his long-term relationship with HBO and sealed a deal with ShowTime that is worth a minimum of $200m for six fights over a 30-month period. If, and it is a big if, Mayweather actually has the six fights, there is every chance that his revenue totals could exceed $1bn. If Mayweather has a showdown with the brilliant and unbeaten young Mexican Saul Alvarez, or the long-anticipated fight with Manny Pacquiao, the billion-dollar ceiling will be comfortably shattered.

Mayweather's spell in a Nevada prison last year on domestic abuse charges appears not to have harmed his ability to make money; he has slowed down with his bad behaviour and no longer burns $100 bills in public or flushes the same amount down the toilet, which he did as breaks during his days of excessive preening.

Thankfully, the prison sentence opened his eyes to far more acceptable ways to dispose of his cash and he has donated to several Las Vegas charities. It has to be said that his continued run of riches from his fights was not dependent on a new, more acceptable side to Mayweather's character suddenly appearing; he has simply grown up and is certainly not playing a "nice guy" for the cameras.

Guerrero is a terrific fighter with a fantastic backstory, having dropped his boxing to care for his wife when she was diagnosed with cancer, which is now in remission; he is now WBC welterweight champion again and will, like all Mayweather opponents, make more money for this fight than any other so far in his life. Guerrero will probably take back to his family in excess of $5m for his work, which is probably about $4.7m more than he made for his last fight. Mayweather, just like Mike Tyson 25 years ago, is a cash cow for opponents.

On Saturday, Mayweather will add another $40m to $50m to his account and move closer to an unassailable position in the record books as boxing's biggest attraction.