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Vegas economics means Mayweather will be back

Not long after Floyd Mayweather Jr. dispatched with Andre Berto on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden and announced, once again, that he was ending his stellar boxing career, I reached a different conclusion.

I want my Money back.

That’s right.

Repeat after me: I want my Money back.

No, I didn’t say I wanted my money back — although the argument for refunds could have been made after several of “Money” Mayweather’s patented snoozers. There’s nothing as numbing to the average fan as Mayweather’s defensive magic act, and he was undeniably the David Copperfield of the sweet science.

I said I wanted Money back.

Mayweather is easy to vilify with his track record of domestic violence and brash-with-the-cash persona, but that’s only if you pretend those things matter in the sports world. As the NFL has perennially proved, and boxing has illustrated since the bare-knuckle era, violent sports tend to be dominated by those prone to violence.

But to hear him tell it, he has had enough and is exiting with a perfect 49-0 record. Turn out the lights, the show is over.

“You’ve got to know when to hang it up,” Mayweather told reporters afterward. “I’m close to 40 years old. I’ve been in this sport for 19 years. I have nothing left to prove.”

That’s right. At 38, Mayweather has been the dominant fighter of his generation.

But since when does having nothing left to prove count for anything in boxing? Lots of great fighters returned to the ring after they had nothing left to prove.

For Las Vegas, the honest question is really: How much does Mayweather have left to generate?

Elvis was a gigantic economic draw well into his drug-addled, polyester jumpsuit phase. The King broke a big sweat on stage and busted the bank on behalf of the casino crowd. The performance pressure no doubt helped lead to Presley’s early demise, but Las Vegas disavows all responsibility for entertainers who fall by the wayside and resents you for daring to think such things.

But in the great Strip pantheon, Mayweather is every bit as important as Elvis. The best part is, Mr. Money hasn’t even reached the bloated jumpsuit stage of his career. He still has a few encores left, and the odds are he will take one.

Here’s the real bottom line: At the pinnacle of his drawing power, a Mayweather fight meant a flow of approximately $400 million into Las Vegas casino resort coffers in one form or another. And some gaming industry insiders suggest, that figure was a conservative estimate.

Even Saturday night’s not so grand finale at the Grand was a big winner for the town, not to mention Mayweather and Berto. From a business perspective, you ought to be rooting for one comeback after another for this guy and hope he doesn’t crash his fancy sports car between bouts.

For his sake, he should retire. After 19 years, he ought to be tired of all the training and the weight watching. He’s as wealthy as a king, has more money than some nations, and has managed to prevail essentially unscathed in a sport riddled with foggy former champions. If Mayweather stays away from girlfriends with firearms, he should live a long life.

That, of course, doesn’t take into account that boxing comebacks are often as much about ego as money. Still, he could “shock the world,” as a great boxer who made far too many comebacks once said, stay retired and live happily ever after in his mansion. Maybe.

That’s not the way I’m betting, of course.

I want my Money back. If the smart guys on the Strip have any sense, they will start sending their Elvis in Everlast roses and begin the comeback courtship immediately.

Love him or hate him, the Las Vegas bottom line will miss Mayweather once he leaves the building.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Reach him at 702 383-0295, or jsmith@reviewjournal.com. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith

 

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