Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Money ≠ Legacy

Some people say that it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Floyd Mayweather is not one of those people. After securing his 48th win, he’s one fight shy of tying Rocky Marciano to retire 49-0. He’s done whatever he’s had to do to guarantee this winning streak and has showcased a variety of skills inside the ring and beyond the squared circle.

On Saturday, Floyd was who Floyd has always been, the winner. Granted, at least he didn’t sucker punch Manny, he didn’t hit him low, he didn’t elbow or shoulder him, he didn’t punch on the clinch or any other dirty tactic. He won, fair and square… and has caused yet another chorus of casual fans to say that boxing is dead… but that’s another post.

This post is about Floyd and his role in boxing.

If you ask me, Floyd Mayweather is one of the greatest boxers in two categories: being talked about, and making money. Actually, that second one he’s actually undisputed raking in over 140 Million dollars last weekend alone. Good for Floyd and his bank account.

But let me make this clear, he’s no Muhammad Ali.

Legacy refers to more than your boxing record. Legacy refers to your role in boxing, what you mean to casual and hardcore fans and what you mean in the history of the sport. In that respect, Ali is a legend along with several other boxers who captivated our imaginations, who thrilled us, who inspired us.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is an elite boxer, but he lacks what other greats possessed in spades. He took the fights he knew hands down he could win. He turned the buildup to a fight into a media frenzy. He’s had the highest grossing fights of all time. He played the villain to earn his payday and changed his in-ring nickname from Pretty Boy to Money… and the name is rather appropriate because his only focus is on the money. He’s openly said he won’t engage boxers in full on fights because although the fight pleased fans, he wasn’t willing to expose himself to unnecessary injury and he’s stuck to that statement to the T.

This past weekend I didn’t pay for the fight, but I did watch it. Like many people, I was enticed at the prospect of the "fight of the millennium" and thought Floyd could actually use the biggest of all boxing stages to give a clinic and shut up all his detractors. I thought there was a chance Floyd could rise beyond expectations and show he’s a dominant force and that no one can even dream of matching him. I thought there was the possibility we’d see one of the epic matchups of all time that would rival Ali Vs. Frazier, Hagler Vs. Leonard, Barrera against Morales, Pacquiao against Marquez. I was also skeptical about the matchup providing any type of fireworks and was worried this would be another De la Hoya Vs. Hopkins, another Floyd Vs. Mosley. This weekend was all about Floyd guaranteeing his paycheck and the win. Nothing more.

I am challenged to think of a Floyd fight I’ve enjoyed beyond the Canelo match and I can’t find any I’ve been glued to the TV set. This has everything to do with his mindset and fighting style. Low risk, hit and not be hit, win at all costs. It’s made him the richest man in boxing and given him an admirable boxing record. Now let it be said, most people watched the fight dreaming of a Pacquiao KO no matter how impossible a prospect that was. People don’t see fight stats and are unaware that in most of his 48 victories, opponents have connected less than ten punches per round in most rounds of all his fights. I’m sure he has a record of the least amount of connects and truly as a defensive fighter, Floyd is amazing. People hadn’t seen other Floyd fights and were focusing on his fight with Canelo and maybe other high profile names. The pattern remained largely the same. Lead right hands, good hooks, limited punch output, and severe domination.

This weekend was all about the money.

$100 for the payperview, one of the weakest undercards in the history of PPVs and a fight that guaranteed him victory and that didn’t please the vast majority of fans. Btw, let’s be clear on this, Manny was also to blame but in the end, the Filipino fought Floyd’s fight and he looked ordinary at best. Kudos to Floyd, but if his fight in September really is the last of his career, September can’t get here fast enough.

Here’s the thing, Floyd talks like he’s a warrior who is willing to die in the ring. If anything, he’s proven he’ll do anything to win and often being the farthest thing from a gladiator.

He says he’s fair. He’s not. If you don’t meet all of Floyd terms, you’re not getting the fight and that doesn’t mean he has to abide by the same rules. I’ll just focus on his lack of interest in even attempting to meet the catch weight in his matchup against Juan Manuel Marquez. I'm not saying Marquez would have had a chance had Floyd met the stipulations, I'm saying he didn't even care to try and make it an interesting fight or much less, a fair fight.

He says he’s fought the best. But only the best payday. I’m all for boxers earning their money, but don’t say you took on all comers and at their prime. He didn’t. He may complain that people always look for an asterisk with his wins… I won’t say anything on this because I’m guilty of it. I don’t think any boxer in the history of boxing has been accused of ducking fighters as much as Floyd. I’m not saying casual fans. I’m saying governing bodies, promoters, other boxers, news channels… pretty much most people who follow boxing have at one point or another said, suggested or at least accepted the possibility he’s ducked more dangerous fighters to preserve his record. Now THAT I will comment on.

Floyd has always done what he needs to do to win, from cherry picking to outclassing to getting generous scorecards in fights he’s lost (watch José Luis Castillo 1 and Maidana 1 for reference). But if you ask me, that’s not what legends are made of. Legends take on all comers. Legends knock out people they outclass to show HOW much they outclass them. Legends test themselves and rise above to inspire. Legends have little or no asterisks in their careers. They go beyond the borders of boxing and are known by everyday people because of their greatness, not because of their wealth and much less because they are despised at the level Floyd is.

As a boxing fan, I’m a bit bored of his game. I’m looking forward to other fighters who are not scared to take risks and show without a shadow of a doubt that they’re the best. I’m anxious to see fights and fighters that captivate my imagination and steal my breath with displays of courage and showing us what true greatness is about and I won't have to wait long. This next weekend is perfect for those people who didn't like Floyd Vs. Pacquiao and the year promises great, interesting and dare I say it, FREE fights (or at least not PPV).

I guess what I’m saying is that greatness should never be about the money, and boxing shouldn’t be about the Money either.

Here's to less Money and more boxing.


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