- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., already the world's highest-paid athlete in recent annual surveys, is unlikely to yield his crown with the disclosure Wednesday by adviser Leonard Ellerbe and Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer that he will earn a guaranteed purse of $41.5 million for his Sept. 14 junior middleweight unification fight with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"Floyd is the biggest star in the sport and the best in the sport, and when you're the biggest star and you are the best, you get paid the most money," Ellerbe told ESPN.com. "So this comes along with the territory."
Mayweather's purse shatters the previous record of $32 million, which he set for his May 2012 fight with Miguel Cotto and then tied for his fight this past May against Robert Guerrero. For 2013, Mayweather's guaranteed purses will total $73.5 million.
The official contract for $41.5 million won't be filed with the Nevada State Athletic Commission until next week, probably the day before the fight, according to commission executive director Keith Kizer.
"It's a wonderful thing," Ellerbe said. "Floyd has put boxing on his back and crossed over. He took a niche sport and went out there and marketed a persona ['Money' Mayweather] in the mainstream world and became the highest-paid athlete in sports.
"It's [truly a] blessing to be in that position to make that kind of money. Floyd has worked hard to put himself in this position. He deserves every penny of it. He's the only athlete that has dominated his sport for the last 15 years, and now he is fighting the best guy he can possibly fight."
The fight with Mexico's Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs) is the second bout of a megadeal that Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs) signed with Showtime/CBS before the Guerrero fight as he left behind career-long television partner HBO/Time Warner. The 30-month deal is for up to six fights and worth in the $200 million neighborhood.
"Showtime/CBS made it known they wanted to be in that Mayweather business," Ellerbe said. "These are the things we talked about with Showtime/CBS when he made this deal, and they have really stepped up to make this possible. When we signed this deal and told people we had the biggest deal in sports history, some people said, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah.' But we were not kidding."
Mayweather's haul for next week's fight could wind up even greater than $41.5 million if the pay-per-view, which some believe can challenge the all-time buy record of 2.44 million and revenue record of more than $130 million that Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya set for their 2007 showdown, goes through the roof and there is still profit after Showtime/CBS makes it into the black.
"This record purse shows you three things," Schaefer said. "No. 1, it shows you how big Floyd Mayweather is, which we all knew. But it shows you that he is not just breaking records, he [is] breaking them by far. And third, it just shows you [how] big this fight with Canelo is. It's insane."
Alvarez's purse has not been disclosed yet, but sources involved in the event say it is more than $10 million. His contract will be filed with the Nevada commission next week.
According to Schaefer, Mayweather-Alvarez already has broken the all-time gate record with ticket sales to sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena generating $19.1 million, breaking the record of $18,419,200 set by Mayweather-De La Hoya.
Ellerbe said they also are on their way to selling out 25,000 closed-circuit tickets at MGM properties in Las Vegas at $100 per ticket.
Millions of dollars more will flow into the promotion from foreign television sales, event sponsors, national closed-circuit revenue (including from the fight being shown in more than 500 movie theaters) and merchandise.
Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. will earn a guaranteed purse of $41.5 million for his Sept. 14 junior middleweight unification fight with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in Las Vegas.