What a Floyd Mayweather loss would actually mean for his brand and the sport of boxing


It’s a question that’s hard to put into the proper context, mostly because the offshore betting odds are so wide against it actually happening, few have even pondered the possibility of it. 

Yet as the pre-fight spectacle of trash talk and “Gotcha Hat” begin to fade in favor of the coming reality that a 44-year-old retired pound-for-pound king is actually going to trade punches in Sunday’s eight-round exhibition (Showtime PPV, 8 p.m. ET) with a 26-year-old YouTube star who will stand six inches taller and outweigh him by upwards of 50 pounds, what if the unlikely becomes reality?

Should Logan Paul (0-1) actually defeat Floyd Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, what would that even mean? Would the sun still come back up on Monday morning? Would the sport or the reputations of either fighter ever be the same again? 

It’s a (somewhat) realistic possibility that could have an interesting potential ripple effect. 

“Wow, that’s the unthinkable,” Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe reluctantly told CBS Sports. “Anytime you step into that ring and you have guys that are throwing punches at one another, any damn thing can happen. That’s the reality.”

 For a event that has received so much attention — in part, fueled by Paul’s younger brother, 26-year-old Jake creating his own bad blood with Mayweather by stealing his hat and sparking a brawl — the intrigue for consumers has seemed to center more around the potential for car-wreck spectacle entertainment or the hope of seeing Paul knocked out. 

Any conversations of how Paul might use his physical advantages to either outbox or knock out Mayweather have been brief. 

A big part of the reason, beyond the obvious gap in experience that has fueled the offshore betting odds, might be because of the affable and almost goofy nature of Paul’s on-camera character. Part trash-talker and internet troll, Paul has built a podcasting and social media empire (including over 28 million combined YouTube subscribers) behind a very sarcastic persona that is never above taking shots at himself or — in this case — even his own chances of winning. 

“Think about it, the [PPV] poster says ‘Bragging Rights.’ If he beats me, what bragging rights are there?” Paul said. “You beat a YouTuber, good job. I beat Floyd, his whole life means absolutely nothing. Fifty wins but he lost to a podcasting, Pokemon collecting YouTuber. So, yeah, he has got a lot on the table. I’m just going in there no f—s given.”

Paul’s description of what the world might look and feel like following a Mayweather loss might not be far off. From Ellerbe’s perspective, it’s a large part of the fuel that has made Paul such a cocky underdog. 

The difference, however, beyond the obvious ones like skill, is that Ellerbe knows Mayweather is ready and waiting for this kind of troll job attempt. Although he was caught off guard by the juvenile nature of the whole “Gotcha Hat” episode, as it pertains to what happens between the boxing ropes, Mayweather is nobody’s fool.

“Can you imagine if something went wrong in this event? This would completely break the internet and Floyd is very mindful of that,” Ellerbe said. “That’s why Logan Paul is licking his chops because he is the bigger, stronger guy. Even though he doesn’t have exceptional skills as the high level boxer, any damn thing can happen and Floyd is very mindful of that. You have weight classes for a reason.”

Mayweather has talked a good enough game, particularly in Showtime’s pre-fight documentary series, to present the appearance as if he may not be taking training as serious as needs to. 

The quotes he dropped of “it really doesn’t matter if I have an intense training camp or don’t, this kid doesn’t have a chance in hell,” might be humorous but Mayweather is well aware of his age and didn’t become the richest athlete of his era without being mindful to turn over every stone. 

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Paul’s trainer, Milton Lacroix, told CBS Sports he believes that lackadaisical stance will ultimately sink Mayweather by saying although he believes the five-division champion is taking the fight seriously, “I don’t think he is taking it as if [Paul] is going to do any collateral damage.”

The reality for Mayweather is that a loss of any kind would have the potential to put an enormously large stain on how painstakingly he tied his legacy to the maintenance of his perfect record. Then again, maybe that’s the beauty in how Mayweather set this fight up. 

As an exhibition, the result of the fight has no standing on Mayweather’s 50-0 record from a historical perspective at all. The built-in excuses of everything from age to the giant gap in weight between the two could also be activated to help clean the initial — and largely unavoidable — gaping wound that would be caused by the embarrassment of losing this type of fight. 

Then again, Mayweather didn’t get to a spot where he could call himself “TBE” without knowing the financial realities of every situation. Mayweather will only add to his riches with this fight, which he has compared to robbing a bank in broad daylight. A loss, for however damaging it might feel in the moment, would only stoke the fires for an even bigger rematch, not to mention an inevitable fight with brother Jake. 

The even bigger mess to clean up, however, in the aftermath of the internet breaking should Paul do the impossible would be boxing’s reputation. 

The idea of crossover entertainment fights — such as the ones the Paul brothers have become the leaders of putting on, evidenced Jake signing with Showtime — have been a slow or even non-existent sell to the sport’s old guard of traditionalists. A win this big and seemingly impossible for an outsider against the very best of the most recent era could be received as a damaging black eye to the current state of business. 

Or, one could look at that relationship for what it really is and realize that, for as long as this Paul-brother bubble lasts from the standpoint of inflated PPV sales, it’s a rising tide of attention-grabbing headlines and renewed interest in the sport that raises all ships who preach undying love for the sweet science. 

Muhammad Ali infamously fought 15 rounds (in what some consider a precursor to mixed martial arts) against pro wrestler Antonio Inoki in 1976 while still an active fighter and accumulated the damage of countless leg strikes in a disappointing draw that had little to no longterm adverse affect on Ali’s brand (save the remaining juice it squeezed from his legs). 

Former UFC champion Tim Sylvia was also knocked out with one punch by 48-year-old Ray Mercer, a former heavyweight boxing titleholder, in a 2009 MMA bout on a smaller promotion which, after the initial shock and shame, was largely forgotten. 

Granted, Mayweather-Paul is happening on a much, much larger stage than the previous example and involving two of the most famous people in sports and pop culture across the globe. And the old phrase of “the internet never forgets” is probably a lot more true when one of the participants built his name upon clowning himself and others in order to mine internet gold. 

Ellerbe, for what it’s worth, isn’t worried. 

“He is having fun. Floyd knows how to handle himself and he has done a phenomenal job of being TBE,” Ellerbe said. “This is an exhibition. He has accomplished everything one could ever want to in the sport being an active fighter. He is retired and I am very proud of him for walking away from the sport. He became a billionaire in the sport, the first to ever do it. He came from poverty and that’s through hard work and dedication and having a great team. He was able to walk away and retire from this sport with all of his faculties and pass on the torch to the younger generation.”

Only Mayweather hasn’t exclusively walked away and clearly still has one foot in the door. It’s just hard to believe Paul has enough in him to stomp on him and somehow sway the “Bragging Rights” into his favor. 

“Bragging rights?” Lacroix said. “The only person who is bragging is going to be us. Floyd is going to be in misery.”

Should the impossible take place, misery would undoubtedly be upon Mayweather and would likely have the company of the general boxing world. Whether or not that dent could be repairable might depend upon the way in which he lost but certainly wouldn’t be able to change everything he has already accomplished and given to the sport. 

Just try telling that to the internet for the first 24 hours, days or, possibly, even years. 





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