By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — CBS pulled off a little coup Tuesday afternoon by signing the biggest name in boxing, Floyd Mayweather, to a six-fight, 30-month deal.
Mayweather had been an HBO fighter throughout his career, but will leave the cable giant to fight welterweight Robert Guerrero on May 4 in Las Vegas on Showtime, which is owned by CBS.
Leonard Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather promotions, tweeted the following: “So bottom line, HBO was outgunned. They came to a gun fight with a knife.”
The deal could potentially be the most lucrative in “will be the richest individual athlete deal in all of sports.”
Aside from a few fights on ESPN early in his career, a fight on ABC and a TNT show, Mayweather has fought exclusively on HBO.
HBO released a statement: “We made an aggressive and responsible pay-per-view offer. Now we move on. We are focused on the best boxing franchise in the television business. We are proud of the roster of superstar fighters and emerging stars that are scheduled to appear on the multiple HBO television platforms this year.”
Mayweather, the biggest box office draw in boxing today, his 2007 fight against Oscar De La Hoya, which was on HBO, still holds the record for largest pay-per-view audience, with 2.4 million buys. That eclipsed the previous all-time mark of 1.99 million, set by the 1997 Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson II, the infamous “Bite fight,” and its $120 million in PPV revenue surpassed the previous revenue record of $112 million, set by the 2002 Lennox Lewis-Tyson heavyweight title fight.
Mayweather Promotions released a statement saying:
“Undefeated eight-time world champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather, boxing’s pound-for-pound king and the highest paid athlete in the world (Forbes, 2012), has entered into a groundbreaking pay-per-view deal with Showtime Networks Inc. and its parent company, CBS Corporation. Under the new deal, SHOWTIME PPV® will collaborate with CBS Corporation to comprehensively promote Mayweather’s events on the CBS Television Network and via the corporation’s expansive media platforms.
“The deal-a unique revenue-sharing arrangement between SHOWTIME PPV and Mayweather-will enable him to fight up to six times over a period of 30 months, with the first mega-event taking place on May 4, 2013, when Mayweather will fight Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero. More details of this upcoming event will be announced shortly.
“Mayweather’s new deal is by far the biggest in the sport of boxing (specific financial details are contractually confidential). Mayweather is the PPV king and averages over 1 million PPV buys per event, which is the highest PPV buy average of any boxer in history. At this record-setting PPV performance level, if all six fights contemplated by this deal occur, it will be the richest individual athlete deal in all of sports.”
Mayweather, who has a record of 43-0, with 26 KOs, has not fought since he decisioned Miguel Cotto on May 5, 2012. He served 90 days in a Clark County, Nevada jail after he pled guilty to a reduced domestic-violence misdemeanor charge and no contest to two harassment misdemeanor charges.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.