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Understanding Mayweather’s Genius

9qNS_XiY5Su1PGWPYaaR-vecU-0FWDfcA9tTIp_qGyI(Photo credit: Esther Lin/Showtime) By Eric Johnson: What is a fan? Fan is short for the word fanatic and by definition, a fanatic is a person whose enthusiasm or zeal for something is extreme or beyond normal limits. Floyd Mayweather has done the impossible, he has turned the people who hate him into indirect supporters, into people who support every outing, every event, and every fight he chooses to grace with an appearance. The people who hate him pay the same money that the people who love him do, doubling the profit he receives by receiving it from both sides of the rope.

Every time Mayweather fights, there is a frenzy of expectations that shadow his opponents. People cheer, and praise his foes, instantly giving them new support, giving them his indirect fans. I attended the Mayweather x Canelo press tour in New York, and I watched as thousands jeered and cheered the world champion. Then lauding his adversary as if he were the 17 year veteran. Recently Canelo’s head trainer Jose Reynoso weighed in on his fighters popularity stating “Even in the hometown of Floyd Mayweather Jr., in Michigan, the fans were 50-50 for each fighter. And everywhere else the percentage of fans were in favor of Saul by a 10 to 1 margin. So he swept in popularity and that assures that on September 14th we will get the most support. That’s a good sign that everyone wants Canelo to win”.

He couldn’t be more wrong. They don’t want Canelo to win, they want Mayweather to lose. There’s a difference in that. They are Mayweather’s fans, even if they come out to boo him, they come out for him. They come out for the name. Victor Ortiz was in Canelo’s situation, as was Robert Guerrero. People who gained massive support because they were supposed to be the ones to dethrone the champion. After the fight they fade back into obscurity, never reaching that level of fan support again. If that isn’t true, then why hasn’t Alvarez been able to do his own media tours, hold his own pay-per-view, or sellout whole arenas without ticket prices that resemble your local movie theatre? Simply put, it’s because he doesn’t have support. Mayweather does. Indirect support, the fans who hate him promise him just as much revenue and fanfare as the ones who love him.

The ones who love him and the ones who hate him do the same things, with different motives. Both sides know his record, one side credits, one side discredits. They both know his fight style, one side praises it, and one sides shames it. They both know his lifestyle, one side accepts it, and one side disrespects it. Most importantly they both buy and attend his fights, one side wants him to win, and the other side wants him to lose. Looking at it big picture all that means is double the support, double the fanfare, and double the revenue.

This is an incredible marketing strategy. It marks the first time in history that a polarizing figure has capitalized on both sides of the polarization. Looking at present day polarizing figures like rapper Kanye West, or pop star Justin Bieber, they are hated and loved. The only difference is they don’t get support from the people who hate them. The people who hate them don’t buy their albums and don’t attend their concerts. They avoid and shun them, excluding themselves from any subjects dealing with the stars. Mayweather has created an image that capitalizes off of the hate. Instead of leaving it there to be unprofitable, he has managed to get those who hate him to BUY into his mystique, promising him more money than any other athlete in the world.

It’s beautiful really, that the people booing him, are the same people supporting him and they don’t even know it. The cheers and the jeers are exactly the same. The people praying on his downfall are the same people who are allowing him to rise to a level of omnipresence unknown. He has combined unconditional love, and unconditional hate, creating a new form of support that doubles his income and popularity. The people who hate him constantly discredit him and keep his name in the grapevine, all the while producing a new form of wine that they don’t even know is going into Mayweather’s wine cellar. The metaphorical wine that he’ll drink with his entourage, toasting and smiling in thanks to his indirect supporters.

To think all of this comes from a few brash comments, and a few outbursts of random cockiness. It’s a marvelous marketing scheme and its genius. So the next time you discredit or boo him, or proclaim your everlasting unconditional hate, remember that action makes you a fan. Well according to definition anyway, and that’s okay, fan. Every time Mayweather comes out to do a speech, what’s the first thing he says? He comes out smiling to an overabundance of extreme booing and he says “Like I said before, I’d like to thank all the fans for their support, you guys have truly been great.” Now you know what he means, fan.

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