Floyd Mayweather Jr. may be the most polarizing figure in boxing history. Mayweather may indeed be more scrutinized than Mike Tyson was, more hated than the ‘Louisville Lip’, Muhammad Ali, in his hay-day, more unappreciated than Larry Holmes, and far more criticized than ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard ever was when he ruled the boxing world.
Floyd Mayweather didn’t retire for two years; he simply went into hiding to avoid fighting the top welterweights. Floyd Mayweather didn’t come back to the sport to take on The Ring number 2 rated pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Juan Manuel Marquez; he fought a guy way smaller than him. Floyd didn’t actually feel disrespected and annoyed when he and Shane Mosley shared words after that fight, he got punked. Floyd didn’t sign to fight Shane Mosley because Shane had become available, he only did it because he was forced to after his fight with Manny Pacquiao fell through due to drug testing, and that, of course, was Floyd’s plan all along, to get out of the Pacquiao fight, not to clean up the sport.
Even problems outside the ring, reportedly, have brought on opinions and disdain from some boxing fans and media. When rumors began to spread that Floyd owed Uncle Sam a few million greenbacks last year, many came to the conclusion the man known as ‘Money’ was flat broke. He wasn’t coming back to the sport to seal his legacy and the hit list was just a marketing ploy thought up by Richard Schaeffer. He was coming back because he needed the dough.
To the average man, the pressure that comes with living your life under this type of scrutiny can bust pipes. To the once in a generation talent who will wear it on their shoulders, it can make diamonds.
Floyd Mayweather would have things no other way. No matter what goes on around him, Floyd Mayweather always seems to persevere. How many other safety-first boxers, without devastating power have been able to cultivate in image centered in braggadocio and controversy, and ride that to all-time heights atop the sport? Go ahead, take a few more minutes.
The answer is none. Ever since his 2007 fight with Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd’s inherited the torch that once burned so bright for the ‘Golden Boy.’ You can argue he’s even surpassed Oscar. His $22.5 million dollar guarantee to fight Shane Mosley this Saturday night is “higher than anything,” De La Hoya was ever guaranteed for a superfight, according to Richard Schaeffer.
But wait; that can’t be. All Floyd Mayweather did was piggy back Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton. He can’t draw flies on his own. Yes, Oscar only did a little more than half of the 2.45 million PPV buys when he fought Felix Trinidad, and Ricky Hatton had never been on PPV before, but come one, this is Floyd! No one tuned in to see him! If he isn’t fighting another superstar opponent, he isn’t cracking 500,000 homes on PPV.
In his comeback fight, after a nearly two year retirement, Floyd signed to fight Juan Manuel Marquez. The cynics lined up to be the first one to say, “I told you so!”
Marquez, though a great fighter, isn’t so widely known in America. He was also the smaller, slower, older man. He had no shot, so why tune in?
1.06 million PPV buys later; Floyd Mayweather was back in boxings drivers’ seat. Marquez had only fought on PPV two times previous to his clash with Mayweather; against Manny Pacquiao (400,000 PPV buys) and against Joel Casamayor a short time later (100,000 PPV buys). You can no longer deny Floyd’s impact at the box office.
But let’s find something else to pick at.
When the potential blockbuster fight with Pacquiao fell apart, the general consensus was it would be Manny who was better off. Another popular opinion was the blame for the fight not happening should lie strictly with Team Mayweather. There man wanted no parts of the Filipino whirlwind. To support this theory, rumors began to sprout up that Floyd was considering the following pugilists for his next bout:
Here we go again. Only two of those names are actual welterweights and Matthew Hatton isn’t a world class fight. Kermit Cintron is, but he was only thrown on the list for credibility and public perception, Floyd isn’t really going to fight him. Timothy Bradley’s good, but he’s a Jr. Welterweight and Nate Campbell is washed up.
Despite a public statement from Mayweather advisor, Leonard Ellerbe, refuting these rumors, and statements from 3 of the 5 fighters named saying they hadn’t been approached for a fight with Floyd, the criticism persisted. And then, the earth moved.
Shane Mosley had been scheduled to defend his welterweight belt against Haitian-born Andre Berto last January. A tragic earthquake, that took the lives of over 500,000 people, hit Haiti. Amongst those people were at least 8 relatives of Berto. After careful deliberation, Berto decided it was best that he pull out of the fight. Suddenly, Shane Mosley become free, and it wasn’t long before he and Mayweather crossed the minds of everyone.
There’s no way Floyd will fight Shane. If he does, it will only be because he’s forced to. He’s backed into a corner; he doesn’t want a piece of Shane.
Critics felt they were beginning to gain momentum when Shane Mosley immediately signed the bout agreement and Mayweather didn’t.
He’s having second thoughts now. I told you so!
After much fanfare and suspense, Mayweather signed his name on the dotted line and the fight was on.
No way he goes through with this? He’s going to pull out. Believe me Floyd Mayweather will find a way out of this fight.
At yesterdays weigh-in, Mayweather looked as intense as he ever has. He didn’t speak, he didn’t smile, and he never took his eyes off of Mosley. The fight is finally here, and industry insiders are projecting it will easily break the record for PPV buys in a non-heavyweight fight, set by De La Hoya and Trinidad nearly many moons ago. Schaeffer believes the sky is the limit and is confident the fight will break 3 million buys.
Manny Pacquiao went on to fight perennial runner-up, Joshua Clottey, in March. Though Manny wasn’t to blame, the fight was lackluster. His opponent didn’t belong in the ring to begin with, the undercard was horrible and the PPV sold somewhere between 600,000 and 700,000 subscriptions.
Now, time for the actual fighting part of the equation. Floyd Mayweather is sure to see the best Shane Mosley available, the best Shane Mosley of the past few years, and possibly the best Shane Mosley ever. New trainer Naazim Richardson has things in Big Bear as upbeat as ever. The charismatic Richardson has invigorated the old champ, starting with his destruction of Antonio Margarito last year. Shane Mosley could already fight, but the brilliant Richardson injects confidence and a comprehensive gameplan. Something Shane was lacking with his father, Jack Mosley, in the corner.
It all sounds great, but Shane Mosley lost to Miguel Cotto. Cotto lost to Pacquiao. Shane hasn’t fought in over a year. He’s 38 years old. If this fight is anything BUT an easy Floyd win then Floyd isn’t all he’s cracked up to be.
The critics have already begun to discredit Mayweather. So have odds-makers, who have Floyd listed as a 4-1 favorite. The way its set up, any way Floyd beats Shane outside of pure domination will be a failure and if he were to lose the fight, he’d finally be exposed as the fraud they tried to tell us he was.
The reality is, these are the same people who felt that Margarito would blow Shane away, and rejoiced when they were proven wrong. Shane Mosley had returned to form, they said. He looked as good as he’s ever looked and made a statement, and now, suddenly, he doesn’t stand a chance with Mayweather?
Floyd himself is no longer a pup. At 33 years old, he’s only fought once in the last 28 months. There’s enough inactivity to go around here. In fact, comparing this fight to Floyd’s split decision win over De La Hoya 3 years ago, in which Floyd wasn’t given much credit, Mayweather is only one year younger than Oscar was at that point and just as if not more inactive. I’ve got a strong feeling that should Mosley win, you won’t hear those things mentioned.
Not that it matters to Floyd. He’s always come up big in his biggest fights. He enjoys the glare of the spotlight, an attribute only shared by some of the most special fighters in the history of the sport. Floyd Mayweather gets the ball rolling, and usually sets the bar high. Tonight is his opportunity to give it back to his detractors, on the grandest stage of all, of which he is said to be acutely aware.
Whatever happens tonight, reality will be what it is tomorrow. If Mayweather does indeed back up his talk, there will be a new dragon to slay May 2nd. Maybe it won’t even get that far. Maybe he should’ve knocked Shane out, but didn’t. Maybe the fight was too close for comfort to some. Maybe the fight was another boring ‘track-meet.’
Whatever it was, Floyd Mayweather would once again have silenced his critics, even if only for a moment. He understands that when you feel you’re the greatest the sport has seen, your work is never done. Another monster will be repackaged as the most legitimate threat to Floyd’s coveted “0” since the last one, and the people will fall for it hook, line and sinker. The demands and the pressure will not stop until Floyd either loses or runs out of opponents. It comes with the territory, but Mayweather would have it no other way.