Saturday May 2nd was a day, five years in the making. An undefeated Floyd Mayweather stepped into the ring against Manny Pacquiao in what would be a more technically sound boxing bout than toe to toe slug fest as many boxing fans had hoped and screamed for. Weeks before the fight took place rumors of soaring ticket prices, sold out hotels, private jet hangars being overbooked and possible celebrities sitting ringside set the sports media and internet afire.
The true tell of the tape however was not found Mayweather or Pacquiao’s performance but in their record breaking payday as well as pay-per-view sales that have elevated Showtime and HBO to now unimagined heights. The numerous brands that have backed these two epic fighters earned a chance to shine in front of the almost 3 million viewers not including the thousands who watched as these two fighters trained and promoted the fight for the past several weeks. These two men both giants by name, boxing record and persona are well known the world over. Access to their fame and promotional power does not come cheap, Pacquiao earned a reported $2.5M from brands such as Air Asia, Phoenix Petroleum, Nike and Cafe Puro from logos placed on his boxing trunks. Mayweather stepped into the ring against a crowd favorite Pacquiao with only three visible brands present, his trunks had Hublot emblazoned on the waistband, a Fan Duel logo above the leg trim along with boxing sneakers by Reebok a brand who ended its relationship with him in 2010 and has not sought to renew it since.
The weeks and days leading up to the fight showed the difference in public branding and marketability. Mayweather’s social media is plastered with his own logo, mantra and company TMT with several endorsements of ‘Shots’ a real time social photo and video social networking application along with the promotion of a athletic recovery sauna based out of Las Vegas. Pacquiao on the other hand is shown endorsing Butterfinger candy, Nike, Samsung, MetroPCS, Periscope, a live video streaming application, and drinking Aqua water gifted to him by Mark Wahlberg. The stories and convictions of domestic violence against Floyd Mayweather are real, documented and will perhaps be the opponent he can never shake or leave behind when the lights in the arena dim on his illustrious boxing career. He has become a marketing nightmare for most brands. He is the top competitor in his weight class, he is a champion, a star and the most talked about fighter since Mike Tyson but he is also one of the most vilified athletes in an era that does not forgive for sake of talent alone.
Even with a marred personal life Mayweather is a cash king, with a widely reported net worth of $400M before his fight against Pacquiao that win or lose will net him around $180M before taxes. Pacquiao once again joins Mayweather with a net worth of over $400M with a possible windfall of $100M – $120M after he exited the ring last night. As both fighters look to wrap up historic and lengthy careers, it appears as though the marketing dollars will continue to elude Mayweather yet with two fights left on his contract with Showtime one wonders if they are needed. Boxing has reestablished itself as a promotional force that fighters will surely profit from as more brands once again recognize boxing’s resurgence in popularity as a chance to garner brand visibility on a large and seemingly ever growing scale.