Opinion: McGregor beware - Mayweather is a master negotiator

The pair are allegedly in talks for a super-fight

Opinion: McGregor beware - Mayweather is a master negotiator

Floyd Mayweather Jr. Image: ©INPHO/Getty Images

The sports world is currently fixated on the possibility of Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather agreeing to a boxing bout in the near future.

When the news first broke last year it was dismissed as a ludicrous pipe-dream. Mayweather, the undefeated American, retired with a perfect professional record of 49-0 after dispatching Andre Berto with ease in September 2015.

The win tied him with the legendary Rocky Marciano and most boxing experts expected him to go on and attempt to beat that record.

The fight with Berto was the last of a bumper six fight deal he negotiated with Showtime which guaranteed him a minimum of $32 million per fight - regardless of how they preformed on pay-per-view.

The deal with Showtime was a huge coup for the company after luring the loud-mouthed American from rival HBO who had been a long time partner for most of Mayweather's career.

According to Forbes, Mayweather's nine PPV's with the company had generated 9.6 million buys and $543 million in TV revenue. 

Floyd Mayweather Jr. celebrates his split decision victory against Oscar De La Hoya
Image: ©INPHO/Getty Images

Mayweather's first master stroke was to buy himself out of his contract with former promoter Top Rank in 2006. Their CEO, Bob Arum, wanted to market Mayweather in the Sugar Ray Leonard mould -  a smooth, slick boxer who had cross-cultural appeal. The boxer felt differently and wanted to cast in a bad-boy gangster image.

Under the Top Rank banner, Mayweather developed into one of the best fighters in the world. In 2006, Arum offered him a career high $8 million to face Antonio Margarito. 

Instead, Mayweather made a decision that would change his life forever when he activated a clause that would release him from his contract if he paid Arum $750,000. 

The American paid the money and was free to promote himself as he pleased. After taking unprecedented control of his career, he was free to negotiate as a self-promoter and instead of taking an upfront fee for a fight - he could demand to be paid once all the PPV numbers, gate sales and advertising revenue was accounted for. 

Remaining unbeaten was key to his appeal but he also needed a signature win to cement his position at the top of the game.

That fight came in the form of a match-up with "The Golden Boy" Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. De La Hoya was the top draw in the sport at the time and loved by Americans after he won gold at the 1992 Olympics. He also drew heavily from the Mexican fan base due to his ancestry.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. (L) lands a punch on Oscar De La Hoya (R). Image: ©INPHO/Getty Images

Going into the contest Mayweather accepted his role as the b-side of the fight and bowed to all of his opponents demands. It was the last time he would have to do so.

In an entertaining bout, De La Hoya pushed the pace and used his jab effectively for the first part of the bout only to tire and allow Mayweather assume control in the second half.

Mayweather won via split-decision and promptly retired after the bout. The move was seen as a way to get back at his opponent who had a mandatory rematch clause in the contract. The bout also set a then record of 2.48 million PPV buys. 

Ever since, Mayweather has controlled very aspect of his career.  He carefully navigated certain opponents to keep his record intact. 

The intimidating Antonio Margarito was ducked altogether and Miguel Cotto was only entertained after he had taken serious beatings off Margarito and Manny Pacquiao. 

Mayweather even made Saul Alvarez drop extra weight to 152 lbs despite fighting for the Mexican's 154lbs light-middleweight title.

Manny Pacquiao was avoided at all costs during his prime from 2008 - 2012 until the pair eventually met in 2015 in the highest grossing fight of all time with 4.6 million PPV buys in the US alone.

Mayweather still took the lions share after the two camps agreed a 60-40 split of all revenue despite the Filipino regularly breaking the $1 million PPV mark on his own. 

Conor McGregor celebrates winning at UFC 205. Image: ©INPHO/Tom Hogan

Looking ahead to a possible fight with Conor McGregor, you can be sure the American will have taken note of the Dubliner's knock-out power and will demand the most padded gloves possible are selected. The size of the ring will also be as big as possible to allow the American to play to his elusive style. 

McGregor might see himself as the biggest star in combat sports right now but it is he who is flying to Las Vegas for talks and not Mayweather flying to Dublin.