Selling Mayweather-Berto bout is a fight they can’t win

The only thing missing Wednesday was a closer.

You know, the guy with a fresh face and renewed sense of enthusiasm. The one who reeks of commission and within a few minutes has successfully disintegrated hours of negotiations into a sheet of smoke and flame.

That’s how things have felt all along about a Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Andre Berto fight and continued at the event’s final news conference this week, that if tonight’s main event at the MGM Grand Garden were a car deal down at the local lot, those pushing the product have tried convincing us a Ford Fiesta is really one of Mayweather’s prized Bugattis.

“There are some things that a lot of people don’t understand,” said Virgil Hunter, trainer to Berto. “When you have two guys who were born into situations, in hood situations and have been to the school, where they try to prove who the king of the school is, who the second king is of the junior high down the road, and I’m dating this guy’s girlfriend who goes to the school and he’s dating that guy’s girlfriend, and we meet at dances and all that stuff, you see some real fights.

“We see it all the time in sports. There is something brewing in the air. I know when something is personal. Tell your people to tune in. Trust me, there’s going to be a rumble. Floyd got hood steps in his walk, trust me. Our bodies are going to be at the MGM, but this fight is going to be way deep down, where a lot of people are very afraid to go, and that’s the hoods of the United States.”

I don’t have any people and sort of lost ol’ Virgil at the part about dating another guy’s girlfriend and meeting at the school dance, and when he later went on about a cat guarding a hole with 100 mice inside and none of the mice wanting to be the one to risk coming out, I realized no one really knew what the hell he was talking about.

But he kept selling the fight, kept trying to convince a public that obviously has little interest to change its mind and open its collective wallets.

Problem: Nobody is buying it.

I’m not sure what sort of banned mixture of saline and vitamins Mayweather might have injected before a fight this time, but those willing to cough up $65 for standard and $75 for high definition might choose an IV of Red Bull.

If you’re going to watch what Mayweather being a 30-1 favorite suggests will occur, you might as well be a little jacked up.

Maybe those who support Berto and three losses in his past six fights are proven correct, that there exists within him the sort of purpose and talent and spirit to shock the sports world and tag Mayweather with his first defeat in what he says — and no one is buying— is his final fight.

I also suppose Floyd Mayweather Sr. could be hired by Emory to lecture on Lord Byron and other English poets.

Crazy things happen.

But the public is speaking loud and clear and in a sharper way than those rhymes Senior entertained with this week: The majority isn’t interested in watching Berto become a 49th victim, at least not in the manner of past Mayweather fights.

I assume much of the indifference points directly to Mayweather against Manny Pacquiao in May, when years of intrigue and drama and buildup for what was sold as a historic match fell flatter than that Stanley character kids mail to relatives and friends.

If this is the public’s way of saying it felt ridiculously overcharged for a fight that underdelivered in incredible fashion, the message is clear.

Let’s review: Mayweather has spent this entire promotion insisting tonight will be the final time he steps into a ring, and yet thousands of seats remained available as of Thursday. The arena is actually going to be condensed, and those closed-circuit viewing parties that Mayweather fights have traditionally sold at a high rate have been canceled. High rollers are turning down free tickets, which is like Mayweather missing an opportunity to recite his resume of fame and fortune.

But the tepid outside interest is not for a lack of trying by those involved in the fight. All those with a stake in things have put on their sales hats and promoted the idea that amazing upsets have occurred in sports since the ancient Greeks got together for a weekend of fun, food and human chariot races.

“The conventional wisdom is that Floyd is going to win this fight, but conventional wisdom said that the first (Marcos) Maidana fight would be easy for Floyd,” said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager for Showtime Sports. “It said Canelo (Alvarez) would be Floyd’s toughest challenger, and it said Pacquiao could beat Mayweather. It didn’t account for Hasim Rahman or Buster Douglas, and it certainly won’t account for Andre Berto’s heart or desire to rewrite boxing history.

“Like you, I don’t know what will happen. I do know that Berto is more athletic than any fighter Floyd has fought recently. One thing I do know, it’s not going to be boring. When you have fighters like our entire pay-per-view card has, it’s a night not to be missed.”

Says the guy whose company benefits most from pay-per-view sales.

Maybe he is the closer.

Although it’s a good bet Virgil Hunter has a better chance of confusing you into buying that car.

Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be a heard on “Seat and Ed” on Fox Sports 1340 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Twitter: @edgraney.

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