Floyd: Money over Memories

By Ted Spoon on February 2, 2014
Floyd: Money over Memories
With the public refusing to let a certain fight die, history is reaching out to Mayweather.

Many years from now, with a silver goatee and an absence of Yes-Men, the fighter spots the businessman who short-changed his legacy…

2013 was a great year for boxing. September 14th left a sour taste in my mouth. Yes, the biggest fight of the year was, for me, the biggest letdown.

It must be said; I kind of set myself up for disappointment.

In anticipation my brother and I had turned the front room into a low-budget tapas bar. Spread across the table was a nice assortment of pre-fight snacks. The fridge housed a fair selection of beer. As a UK resident you know the drill; if you want to watch the best fights live, you’ve got to put in the hours. Progressively getting drunker, more opinionated, and enjoying the contrast between crisps, olives and artichokes, there wasn’t a chance I was going to nod off. 

Around 4:30 am, and with another cold one in my mitt, Saul Alvarez was followed to the ring by Floyd Mayweather. That classic feeling of indecision commenced. I could not bring myself to bet against Floyd but I had got it into my head that Saul would land something big; this was going to be a compelling fight.

Not long before they touched gloves the late Joe Rein had posed the question, “How long will it take Floyd to reduce Canelo to a sparring partner?” I stuck to my (more entertaining) version of events, but the manner in which the old sage wrote had me smelling the coffee before it was even brewed. Canelo lost and, to my chagrin, was reduced a sparring partner. 

Depending on how Saul’s career pans out, I guess it’s not a bad scalp, though the fight itself was completely forgettable. The real question is, before the credits roll, will Floyd’s pocket-filling fans be rewarded with something heroic? As it stands we’re due a very calculated goodbye, and when the one-time Pretty Boy finally does take his leave I sense history will grumble. 

To this writer’s mind, Floyd’s “no blueprint” theme is a cancer waiting to spread. It implies what can never be; that a fighter never has an off-night, that nobody has his number. Insufferable as Harry Greb often looked, as untouchable as Ray Robinson once appeared, they were still human. Difference being, we understand how great these men were.

Is it not so that, in order to know what we’re dealing with, we must understand its limitations? Structural engineers must know the ultimate tensile strength of metals before a project can be furthered while an F1 car’s top speed must be known before they’re good to go. Lately Floyd hasn’t had to shift out of second, and during this relatively pedestrian phase of his career he’s taken it upon himself to rock a TBE cap (The Best Ever). Forgive me if I liken its relevance to those cardboard crowns you’re given in Burger King.

It’s enough to make you reminisce.

Way back in 1998, Floyd was a ball of ambitious energy. WBC super-featherweight champion Genaro Hernandez didn’t know what he was in the ring with, and I too feel unarmed watching Floyd go about his business. The razor reflexes are there of course, but there’s also a torrent of punches. Did I just see a lead right uppercut? Come round seven it’s toe-to-toe. The occasional crack on the jaw figures but Floyd holds his ground, returns four and makes sure it doesn’t happen again. A stellar championship run is kick-started with an 8th round retirement. Many believe the 130-pound Mayweather was version one and with good reason; it was at this weight where he sculpted perhaps his most impressive win.

Back in 2001 the late Diego Corrales was unbeaten and only a slight underdog. Conscious of the fact he’d probably need three rounds to find his rhythm, he followed Mayweather about the ring with a knowing march. Clean shots produced a dismissive look. Everyone watched on as the plot was scheduled to thicken. Well, it didn’t so much thicken as it did liquefy. Floyd, who looked like he may be on his bicycle, was more like a weaponized jack in the box. Moving but refusing to be bullied, evading but stepping into his punches, it was a sublime mix of fire and ice. Pinpoint hooks started to disagree with Diego. Five knockdowns later his corner did his brain a favor.

Next year Floyd jumped up to lightweight. Mexico’s Jose Luis Castillo was a solid champion but few expected the rough ride that followed. A shoulder injury was a fair excuse in a contest Floyd arguably lost, forced to the ropes and outworked in the latter half of the fight; Castillo gave the aggressively-inclined American’s what they paid for. Unanimous scores of 116-111, 115-111 and 115-111 each tell a little porky, but Floyd deserves full credit for having an immediate rematch and winning clearly on that occasion.

The word “boring” reached boiling point following a contender for Floyd’s most mundane hour against Victoriano Sosa in 2003. Again he seemed to listen to the public and reeled out a string of very watchable bouts against Phillip N’Dou, DeMarcus Corley and Arturo Gatti. These helped pave the way for two lucrative blockbusters against Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton. Both were high-tempo. Floyd won each deservedly. 

Splatting Ricky Hatton into the turnbuckle was quite spectacular, though it may have marked the end of Floyd’s surge for greatness.

For whatever reason he opted for semi-retirement, and ever since then his career has felt more like a bundle of choreographed scenes, each well-rehearsed and with no need for stuntmen. Credit is due for the way he regrouped after Shane Mosley lashed out; surely a glitch from TMT’s perspective. It’s always a pleasure to watch, technically speaking. Months’ worth of buttering up the ideal opponent has given rise to an ugly theory…

Floyd doesn’t agree to fights in which he believes there is genuine danger.

I use to have Floyd beating Manny Pacquiao, and with something to spare. The reach advantage would’ve been too much, Pacman’s habit of overreaching would’ve introduced him to Floyd’s check hook, and the manner in which he generally leads with his head would’ve reserved him an all-you-can-eat buffet of right hands.

Several unnecessary demands later, things have changed.

Manny’s work rate would force the older man to fight him off, those quick feet would take away his preferred range, rush his decisions, and a dedicated body attack would create head-snapping opportunities. I’m not sure he wins, but it’s no longer an easy assignment. 

In the same way a good, assertive speech can make a believer, Floyd’s reluctance has made me sceptical. 

He will always have the greatest respect from his colleagues, the Andre Wards and Paulie Malignaggis, men who can relate to the hard graft, expectation and sacrifice. It’s a type of respect I could never digest without having danced under the bright lights myself. Ranking fighters is different.

I dare say your average fan has a better gauge of history than a fighter does, somebody who’s free from the tunnel vision needed to compete, who can study the different eras and weigh them evenly. Someone whose opinion isn’t spoilt by boastfulness or excessive modesty.

Without being a hater or, what is known in certain corners as a ‘flomo,’ I believe Mayweather is still missing that signature victory; that essential spice which would bring together 18 years of sweet science. And with the public refusing to let a certain fight die, history is reaching out to him.

Trying to ignore the fact the sun has begun to rise, I will continue to watch the one-time Pretty Boy, live. His timing, speed and vision are good enough to wow those who know nothing about the sport; that palpable kind of talent which belongs only to the select few; a Lionel Messi or a Roger Federer. It’s fair to say that while the ring’s giants are still sleepy, Mayweather is good for boxing. I do wonder though, about the man who has become too conscious of his position as top dog, who flashes his lead right like an overused joke, who no longer aims to please.

Not to skirt over the last point, our pound-for-pound king is scheduled to face somebody both himself and his father have openly said hasn’t earned the chance.

With at least three more fights there’s still time to shine, but you don’t need much of an imagination to picture this…

Many years from now, with a silver goatee and an absence of Yes-Men, as Floyd chills in his longue, scanning his countless possessions, the fighter spots the businessman who short-changed his legacy.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez Full Fight

Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Genaro Hernandez (Full fight.)

(Fight 25) Floyd Mayweather vs. Diego Corrales [2001-01-20]

Floyd Mayweather vs. Jose Luis Castillo 1

(Fight 30) Floyd Mayweather vs. Victoriano Sosa [2003-04-19]

(Fight 32) Floyd Mayweather vs. DeMarcus Corley [2004-05-22]

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs Arturo Gatti

Oscar De La Hoya vs Floyd Mayweather Jr HD

(Fight 39) Floyd Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton [2007-12-08]

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Shane Mosley 01.05.2010 HD

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  1. The Fight Film Collector 10:07am, 02/07/2014

    Guys, it sounds like Floyd’s legacy (however one wants to judge it) already is what it is.  Am I right to assume that finishing his last few fights undefeated, and in the same manner we’ve seen,  isn’t going to sway minds one way or another?  I ask this as Floyd apparently believes is that he’s already delivered several signature fights (Oscar, Hatton, Canelo), and so frankly I see nothing to motivate him to change anything in future fights.

  2. Don from Prov 10:03am, 02/06/2014

    Fight Film Collector: Realistically, on who he is likely to face—Forget it.  I like Rax mentioning 160lbs. but Floyd is not going to take any chances.  IMO, he had a roadmap laid out and ready for him at 147lbs. back some years ago—Wouldn’t have involved great match-ups like Leonard/Hearns/Duran Hagler.  But I think if he’d moved to clean out the division, and then took on ] Martinez and topped things off with Pavlik (who he should have had a VERY clear shot of frustrating/beating) his legacy would be stronger.  But then he would not have as much left as he does now to make his little victory lap.  And might not have his unbeaten record either, but he would have been a true fighter then, not just a corporate entity who just happened to also be majestically talented boxer.

  3. TRAVIS ROSTE 08:11am, 02/06/2014

    He just needs to fight pacman, and that’s it.  he either wants to or he doesnt, he doesnt want to risk his perfect record, that’s all there is to it. if he would have lost just one fight early in his career, we would have seen the pacman fight by now. he is obsessed with a perfect record, but no one else cares. hands down p4p champ of all time is sugar ray robinson, but he lost a few, but so what, no one cares. the obsession with a perfect record is his downfall, just fight pacman already.

  4. raxman 05:10am, 02/06/2014

    rob -pac was great beneath 135 when he was the mexicutioner beating jmm-barrera -morales but i always thought the fame he got for beating oscar (shot and weigh drained) hatton (never the same post the floyd ko), cotto (weight drained at a catch weight beneath the welterweight he was struggling to make). was overblown and didn’t come close to rivalling his earlier successes. the thing is pac is great when he’s got a rios/margaritio style opponent in front of him but is vulnerable to a fighter who can move his feet, feint and counterpunch, having said that pac is a truly great fighter. but there is no doubt (especially as freddie used to admit it) that roach match made fights that stack the advantage firmly in manny’s corner.  it no different to floyd and certainly no better

  5. ROB 12:14am, 02/06/2014

    Can someone please tell me who the heck has pacman fought that is better than floyds competition? also Manny’s recent competition compared to Floyd"s is a joke within itself

  6. raxman 06:52pm, 02/05/2014

    Film Collector - for mine its pac and Bradley - based purely on the fact that they are the best opponents at 147 (Floyd’s natural and I’d argue best weight)
    I think he counter punchers Pac to the point that Pac gets more and more pissed, more and more aggressive and more and more open to be hit. Bradley has a better chance but I think Floyd would be too good at the end
    if I could write the script Floyd’s next four fights would be the stay busy fight vs Maidana (does anyone else see the comparison b/t broner v maidana to Floyd vs Castillo - both moving up in weight and not ready for the power and pressure of their opponent - the key dif is Floyd was injured and without a jab, whilst Broner just wasn’t ready - and of course Floyd got the nod - had the Broner knock downs not happened we may have seen a Broner win)
    after Maidana - I’d like fight 4 (of Floyd’s 6 fight deal) to be Pac or Bradley depending on what happens in their fight. In the event of a Floyd loss fight 5 is a rematch. a Floyd victory would make fight 5 vs Martinez. fight 6 is a rematch is he loses but if he wins I suppose the final fight could, if he has improved a Canelo rematch for the big payday or in my wildest dreams a WTF step up to 160 (he’d prob not weigh much more that 150 pounds but as I said its a WTF fight)

  7. The Fight Film Collector 01:34pm, 02/05/2014

    Great comments by everyone.  So here’s the question, at this point in his career, what would a signature Mayweather fight have to look like to convince the doubters?  And I mean realistically, based on opponents he’s genuinely likely to face in the near future.

  8. nicolas 03:03pm, 02/04/2014

    I don’t care for Mayweather and would like to see him lose. I would like like him to try to get real greatness and go after the middleweight title. Instead of Khan or Maidana to fight next, I would like him to fight Lara or Bradley, or even Martinez. But at the same time I am not getting hit at all, and so cannot blame him for what he does. If people are willing to pay big Pay Per view dollars to buy his shows so be it. Many who watch his shows, while nice people, are really very ignorant about the history of boxing or the other people boxing today. Alvarez was the top Jr. Middleweight (next to Mayweather) when they did fight, but the Alvarez win over Trout and how it was achieved should be one of controversy, and has not been. But still it was a top fight, and Mayweather needs to be given credit for having that fight. Unless Mayweather looks like Ali and Louis did in their 60’s, I would have to think that a wealthy perhaps forgotten Mayweather in his 60’s will be a happier man than a well remembered living off his life as a greeter for Caesars Palace Joe Louis.

  9. raxman 02:57pm, 02/03/2014

    the biggest issue is there isn’t anyone at 140-154 that poses a major threat so in real terms it doesn’t matter who he fights.  those at 54 supposedly have the best chance based purely on the size differential. Lara being the most likely with his long reach and being a southpaw - but I think that fight could be an absolute stinker entertainment wise. the only guys that truly have a chance to win and deserve the fight are Pac. h I think FMJ’s counter punching give him the edge of favouritism but Pac would enter the fight with as great a punchers chance as any has ever had given the speed and angles his power shots can come from; the other one is Bradley. his Floyd level fitness and work rate combined with that erratic weaving that makes it so his opponents shots don’t land flush (despite what you think about the Pac result he hardly landed any flush shots) add to that the fact that the judges are looking for any reason to give Mayweather’s opponents rounds, and (as happens with Pac also) demand that Mayweather does something above and beyond to give him the round. so its Pac or Bradley for mine - but we know the obstacles there.
    as for GGG - I know he keeps talking up Floyd and the drop to 54 but the reality is he hasn’t fought at 154 ever as a pro (that’s nearly 8 years) and even as a amateur he was about 20 the last time he fought beneath the 165 pound class - granted the amateurs are same day weigh ins often over a number of days but still he had a “boys” body then and he’s a full grown man now. surely if he could have made 154 on debut in 2006 he would have.

  10. Ted Spoon 01:56pm, 02/03/2014

    Matt: You’re not wrong about Floyd receiving more praise had Canelo got in his licks (his fault for being good?), though I do see a trend with plodding, come-forward fighters; I think Manny’s quick footwork is one of the key reasons Mayweather remains hesitant.
    Ted: I would like Floyd to put himself in a genuine 50/50 fight. All the greatest fighters had a daredevil mentality. Even against Canelo, who I was a little high on, I couldn’t side with him. That doesn’t scream defining fight. Floyd’s talent is right up there, but his career is far too serene, and not because he’s spanking everybody. Four, possibly five more fights and I see Manny, Golovkin and Lara as potential fights. I haven’t got it in for the man, and he is often brilliant to watch, but I feel he’s applying the brakes with the home stretch in sight.

  11. Ted 01:06pm, 02/03/2014

    Mayweather can win with an arsenal of technical skills second to none and he does this without endangering his health. No one ever said you have to do otherwise IMO.

    This just might become a new concept among boxers with the stress on “might.” Prove, what is it you want him to do?

  12. Matt McGrain 12:56pm, 02/03/2014

    True Ted, but when Canelo-Money was made, Pacquiao hadn’t fought since his brutal nap courtesy of Marquez.  If Money had fought Pacquiao at that point, Canelo would have had a better case for having been ducked than Manny…and I don’t think there was a more serious challenge out there for Money outside of Pacquiao than Canelo…most disturbing, i get the feeling that if Mayweather had been knocked about a bit on his way to beating Alvarez, nobody would be complaining - but it’s hardly Floyd’s fault that he took on the #1 or #2 challenge in weight classes he visits and didn’t get scuffed…personally I see it as a cause for celebration.

  13. Ted Spoon 12:40pm, 02/03/2014

    Ted: I see what you’re getting at, though Mayweather must be as far away from the grim realities of the ring as any fighter I can think of. Ali went to war with his failing powers, Mayweather questions whether he should press for a knockout in fights he is dominating. There’s a huge difference.
    Don: That is indeed the point I was making.
    Matt: The Canelo win was impressive, (again, it also depends on what Saul goes on to achieve), but the point is it was easy. There is plenty left in the tank. While Mayweather’s career is stellar it has been very apparent as of late that he wants an ideal opponent, not a challenge. Pacquiao isn’t going anywhere, Golovkin sounds rather serious about a fight, and then there is E. Lara who is also in Floyd’s territory. I think FFC hit the nail on the head - Floyd wants as much publicity and money with as few scratches in the paintwork as possible. I don’t want the man to lose. I want to see an all-time talent to show us his full wing span.

  14. Matt McGrain 12:34pm, 02/03/2014

    That’s an interesting thought FFC…we shall see I suppose.

  15. NYIrish 12:21pm, 02/03/2014

    Speaking of gambling, Canelo never did against Floyd. He didn’t press him or try to break the older fighters rhythm. He didn’t fight him. Alvarez was a good employee who took his pay and went home.

  16. The Fight Film Collector 11:59am, 02/03/2014

    Matt, I hear what you’re saying, and agree that he looked brilliant in the Canelo fight.  I’m just taking a longer view.  I don’t question Floyd’s brilliance as an athlete or legitimacy as a champion.  If Floyd was 25 years oId where his career is now, we could talk about expectations.  But as mid-30s part time boxer, he’s basically gambling.  I just wonder about a guy who doesn’t know when to leave the card table, even after he’s won, and insists on betting his house over and over again.  What do you think eventually happens to guys like that?

  17. Matt McGrain 10:07am, 02/03/2014

    I do disagree that he’s “running down the clock” FFC.  I disagree with both you and Spoon on that.  I think there’s a certain light of selection about May’s opponents - just as there is about Manny’s, don’t forget it’s Bob that does the picking - but he’s created these expectations for himself.  For example, despite the fact that his best weight is now welterweight, Mayweather, in his last fight, utterly dominated the #1 154lb fighter in the world at the time.  That’s an incredible feat, made more incredible, not less, by the one-sidedness of the encounter.  Additionally, there was no opponent at the time of the fight being made who was a bigger threat on paper.  Huge win.

  18. The Fight Film Collector 09:01am, 02/03/2014

    Very good work, Mr. Spoon.  And excellent points by Ted and Irish too.  Floyd is just running the clock down, and I get the impression that the sum of his behavior in and out of the ring suggests he’s more afraid of retirement than anything else.

  19. Matt McGrain 04:34am, 02/03/2014

    Great writing Spoon.

  20. Ted 05:20pm, 02/02/2014

    “And some writers on here champion the champ as a “business-first-man”

    I resemble that comment!

  21. boxmeister 04:45pm, 02/02/2014

    Floyd is not the Floyd who started with grit and guts.  Replaced by greed and grunts, he will not fight the fighter whom he knows he cannot bribe, forced to cooperate to give him the win to protect his zero.  A scared dog will just bark and bark and will refuse to bite.

  22. Critical Beatdown 02:45pm, 02/02/2014

    While everyone tunes in to watch him fight, Floyd’s final years seem to be nothing more than an exercise, a victory lap of sorts. He’s accomplished all he cares to accomplish short of adjusting the digits in his win columns (W’s and dollars, that is). No one really expects him to change his game plan at this point, probably least of all Floyd himself. But it doesn’t stop us from talking about it, or trying to provoke him by any means available into stepping up and being truly great at the end of his career. In another sense, it will be a relief when he finally retires and the boxing world can get along without this emperor who obviously wears no clothes.

  23. Don from Prov 02:32pm, 02/02/2014

    Floyd IS the businessman who short-changed his legacy—

    And some writers on here champion the champ as a “business-first-man”

  24. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 01:23pm, 02/02/2014

    Give the man credit…it’s all about the “0” and he knows it and that is why he is loathe to get in with anyone who could erase that “0”.... that in your face declaration that I’m “the One”....only holds if he has that “0” in the loss column. Even one loss demonstrates that on one night in his career at least, he was not “the One”. Another thing that he knows is that at this point in time there are probably more people that tune in to see him lose than those that want him to win…so…if he doesn’t have that “0”....why would they even bother. Moreover, he knows that his appeal to the boxing would drop precipitously, if he were to lose a fight by an undisputed unanimous decision…let alone…and perish the thought….if he suffered a crushing defeat as Pacquiao did.

  25. Ted 12:00pm, 02/02/2014

    provocative as an article should be.

    Mike Alvarado recently said “It was not worth taking more punishment because the damage could be permanent…It just wasn’t my night. I have a lot of heart. I’m not a quitter.”

    Says Gordon Marino:

    “Greater safety in boxing requires a shift in sensibilities of the sort recently hinted at by pound-for-pound king, Floyd Mayweather Jr. Following his win over Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Mayweather confessed,

    “I truly believe I could have banged with Canelo and eventually knocked him out in probably the eighth round, but I could have taken a lot of punishment also, which could have messed my career up to where I wouldn’t have been able to fight four more fights…It hurts my feelings to look at [Muhammad] Ali’s situation. He fought for the people, to please them. You’ve got to fight to please yourself first. Self-preservation.”

    So it may be that Floyd will come out a winner in the end. Just another viewpoint. See:

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