“It’s not a black thing, it’s not a white thing. It’s a green thing.”
– The gospel according to Floyd “Money” Mayweather
On May 5th Floyd Mayweather will face Miguel Cotto for the WBA Super World light middleweight title. Mayweather is a man who divides opinion among fans. In criticising Floyd’s lifestyle are we too quick to dismiss the talents of a truly brilliant boxer?
Many find Mayweather’s obsession with money vulgar and feel it reflects badly on the sport. Others are more forgiving, thanking their lucky stars that we live in an age where such a talented fighter is still operating. Either way, everyone has an opinion on Floyd, in and out of the ring.
Whilst there can be no doubt that this is an era defined in part by Floyd Mayweather it is also an era in which boxing is becoming a niche sport. Despite the rise of Tyson Fury on Channel 5 we have also seen Sky Sports unceremoniously dump Hatton Promotions from their boxing coverage. Ask an average sports fan what they know about Mayweather. The response is likely to include the lack of a fight with Manny Pacquiao or Floyd’s upcoming stint in prison.
Sadly, both topics represent a large slice of Mayweather’s public persona. However, this state of affairs is entirely justified. The Pacquiao issue has been raging for years and looks no nearer to being resolved in the ring. The prison case is far more serious. On June 1st Mayweather will begin a 90 day sentence at Clark County Jail. Floyd entered a guilty plea to charges of Battery Domestic Violence against the mother of his children.
It is virtually impossible to put both concerns aside, even in a sporting context. Many see Mayweather’s legacy as tarnished for not fighting Pacquiao. The court case and subsequent sentence was even moved around to allow for the bout to take place. Beyond these yardsticks by which we judge Floyd though, can people really focus on the boxer alone?
It seems fitting that a man with the middle name of Joy should bring so much pleasure to so many fans. Everyone wants to see “Money” fight. You may have different reasons for doing so but it is hard to take your eyes off him in the ring.
I have watched boxing regularly for more than 20 years. In that time I do not think there has been more naturally talented fighter than Floyd Mayweather. The nature of sports debate means plenty would disagree but Floyd’s ring craft is utterly phenomenal.
Mayweather was an Olympic bronze medallist in Atlanta ’96. He has used that amateur pedigree has a springboard to a stellar paid career. A world champion in his eighteenth professional fight, Floyd has claimed titles at four other weights besides.
A popular line is that Floyd has no chin, “catch him and you’ll knock him out”. Plenty of people have hit Floyd very hard and yet he only has one knock down on his record. The moment in question didn’t even come as a result of Mayweather getting hit. Floyd damaged his hand throwing a left hook against Carlos Hernandez and touched down, overcome by the pain.
That’s forty-two fights and forty-two victories. Along the way Mayweather has beaten, among others Oscar De la Hoya, Jose Luis Castillo, Diego Corrales, Arturo Gatti and Ricky Hatton. Floyd has risen from super featherweight to light middleweight and still people are queueing up to claim he’s not that good.
There are those that accept Floyd’s talent but maintain that without a Pacquiao fight his legacy will be forever damaged. This may be true but listening to Mayweather’s reasoning as to why it hasn’t happened is enlightening. On his claim that Pacquiao has been using performance enhancing drugs, “I’m going up in weight but I’m not just walking through no damn fighters. This mother****** was 106lbs and he’s just walking through Cotto. Cotto can’t knock down Mosley but he can? Come on man?”
If Mayweather truly believes that Manny Pacquiao is using PEDs then his reticence to face the Filipino is understandable. This isn’t athletics where drug use means a better solo performance. This is a sport where one man’s capacity to damage another might be increased by 30%. There is a health issue for both men involved, not just the drug user.
I am not for one minute suggesting that Manny Pacquiao has cheated with the assistance of PEDs. However, if there is a grain of doubt in Mayweather’s mind, not fighting Pacquiao is justifiable.
Boxing history is littered with fights that never happened. It is incredibly frustrating that Mayweather and Pacquiao seem destined to forever circle each other beyond the ring. Look past the Pacquiao issue though and we are left with an outrageously gifted boxer in Floyd Mayweather. He has defeated a long list of future hall of fame inductees and he has looked superb in doing it.
Floyd isn’t the first professional sportsman to have an extravagant life and an unashamed love of the dollar. He most definitely won’t be the last. On May 5th, whatever your thoughts on Mayweather the man, just take a second to appreciate Mayweather the boxer.