R.A. The Rugged Man on Floyd Mayweather Jr stepping up to the Plate; Pacquiao vs Clottey and More!
By Brandon Estrict, Doghouse Boxing (Feb 19, 2010)  
At 40-0 (25), Floyd Mayweather Jr. hasn’t been presented much difficulty in his 14 years as a prizefighter. The celebrated 1996 US Olympic Bronze Medal winner turned pro later that year and has navigated five weight-classes, snatching championships at each stop. If ever there was any semblance of a legitimate struggle, it took place during the earlier portion of his career. Mayweather began his foray into the sport at the junior lightweight limit and completed his championship conquest less than two years later. He would successfully defend his throne eight times before leaping to the lightweight division and capturing championship gold in his very first fight.

It was only after he bolted that division did the picture become hazy.

With names on his resume like Diego Corrales (TKO 10), Genaro Hernandez (TKO 8), Jose Luis Castillo (W 12 twice), and Angel Manfredy (TKO 2), his standing in the sport was unquestioned. The can’t miss prospect-turned-world champion was for real, not some ticket selling, overprotected belt-holder. Sure, there were bumps in the road along the way, such as an ugly but short-lived spat with HBO (think slave contract) and one infamous decision victory in a close fight (see Castillo 1), but the general consensus was the kid could fight and had quite a future ahead of him.

Many pundits foresaw greatness for the young Mayweather, who drew comparisons to such past legends of the sweet science as Sugar Ray Leonard and Meldrick Taylor. The sheer talent and ability was there. But en route to championships at the 140, 147, and 154 lb. divisions, the best opponents were not.

The light middleweight division being the lone exception (it was a one-time deal for a megafight with Oscar De La Hoya), cynics couldn’t reconcile with the fact that Mayweather, by hook or by crook, managed to go around fighters such as Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, Kostya Tszyu, and Paul Williams in attaining his lofty pound-for-pound status. Mayweather’s lowest risk-for most-reward fight selection has long provided fuel to the fire flamed by his staunchest of critics.

Late last fall after a near two year retirement, ‘lil’ Floyd returned to the ring against then number two pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, Juan Manuel Marquez. Sounds great on paper, but what’s misleading about that is the fact that Marquez had just moved up to the Lightweight division one year prior, yet this bout was contested at a catchweight of 144 lbs. or nine pounds heavier than Marquez had ever competed. Not to imply the outcome would’ve been different at any weight class, but the situation was further tainted when Mayweather weighed in two pounds heavier than the catchweight that had been agreed upon. ‘Dinamita’ was outsized, outgunned and out of his depth.

Not long after his domination of Marquez, Mayweather met what many consider his toughest match since Castillo in 2002.

Long Island, NY born R.A. Thorburn, better known as underground rap artist R.A. The Rugged Man, was scheduled for a radio spot to promote his mixtape, Legendary Classics Volume One. In a statement given to popular hip-hop magazine XXL, he explains what happened next:

“I went up to Eminem’s Shade 45 station on Sirius Satellite radio to do what I thought would be a standard hip hop interview.”

Only, in an instant it became anything but standard. Mayweather and rap superstar/Eminem protégé 50 Cent are great friends, so Floyd often calls into the station. Sure enough, during the interview with R.A., Mayweather would call in.

“The interview started becoming about boxing.”

Unbeknownst to many, including Mayweather, R.A. is an avid boxing fan with a respectable knowledge of the sports’ past.

“I just explained how I thought (Floyd Mayweather) was a great fighter but he needed to stop (messing) around and fight the best fighters in his own weight class.”

Needless to say, the fiery Floyd wasn’t happy. A verbal slugfest would ensue and R.A., unlike Carlos Baldomir or De La Hoya, was not only able to keep the pace of the fast-talking Mayweather, but may have exceeded it. The rest has is cyberspace history!

Check it out for yourself (YouTube clips provided on this page:

Fast forward to today. After the largely publicized failed negotiations between Floyd and Manny Pacquiao to make the richest and most meaningful fight in boxing over the last decade, things appeared bleak. But an unfortunate and tragic natural disaster in Haiti forced Welterweight titleholder Andre Berto to withdraw from his January title defense against Shane Mosley. With Pacquiao having already signed to fight Joshua Clottey on 3/13, the door was wide open for a Mayweather-Mosley fight that had been 10 years in the making.

Negotiations were quick, save for a few mind games from Mayweather who took his time before officially signing the contract; the fight was finalized to the delight of boxing fans all over the world. Doghouse Boxing recently caught up with R.A. The Rugged man to get his take on a Mayweather-Mosley clash.

“I hope that fight happens. I'll believe it when the contracts are signed by both parties (*the bout agreement has indeed been signed by both parties*) and the fight is officially announced. I'm still not completely convinced that Floyd/Mosley is going to get made yet. I hope Floyd don't duck out of it. Let's keep our fingers crossed.”

Granted, some concern may be warranted. Mayweather’s aforementioned risk versus reward business strategy has been completely turned on its ear. In fighting Mosley, he’s taking a bigger risk than Pacquiao is with Joshua Clottey, and many feel that Mosley be an even tougher opponent for Mayweather than Pacquiao himself would have been. All of this for less money than a Pac-man fight would have netted him, and it does seem unusual for a fighter who has often prided himself on his business decisions. It does appear that the Mosley fight is on, but many cynics have taken a show-and-prove approach similar to the one that R.A. expresses.

Likewise, a good number of boxing fans are less than thrilled with the selection of Clottey for Pacquiao. In Joshua’s last fight he dropped a close split-decision to Miguel Cotto. In winning the fight, Cotto earned the right to take on Pacquiao but was subsequently annihilated for his troubles last fall. Surely then, Clottey has no shot at victory and ‘The Event’ will serve as little more than Cowboys Stadium introduction to boxing right? The Rugged Man doesn’t think so.

“Clottey is a big, strong, real Welterweight who is capable of giving any true welterweight problems. I don't see anybody walking through him, and he's never been dominated or lost a fight convincingly. If Manny could walk through him that would be pretty incredible and it would make Manny even more special in my eyes. Any fighter willing to fight Cotto and Clottey back to back gets my respect. 

“In fact, I can't name a fighter on Mayweather’s entire record that would've been able to beat a Josh Clottey or a Miguel Cotto.  Not Corrales, not De La Hoya and not Marquez.”   

The Rugged Man’s guess is as good as anyone’s as to whether or not we’ll ever see a Mayweather and Pacquiao standing opposite one another in the squared circle, but for now he’s satisfied with the two matchups that the failed fight has spawned.

“I believe Clottey is more established at Welterweight than Floyd is, and Mosley is more established at Welterweight than Pac-man is, so I'm not mad at these fights. I think both of these fights can actually be better fights than Floyd/Pac or just as good. Both fights are fights that either guy can lose.”

As for Floyd, R.A. was once a fan and feels that a victory over Mosley would go a long way toward erasing the negative perception of him.

“Floyd better not duck out of this Mosley fight. Mosley is a big step up in the right direction, a fight like that can do a lot to salvage his reputation amongst hardcore fans.”

Whether or not Floyd can revive his image with hardcore boxing fans or make up for time lost remains to be seen. As it stands, boxing fans can only live in the present. The best fighting the best is all that can be asked of the top fighters in the world. For Floyd Mayweather, a fight with Mosley in 2002 would’ve been excellent, but a fight with Mosley in 2010 is a start. Here’s to hoping that trend continues.

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