Jim Lampley on Mayweather vs. Berto

By Robert Ecksel on September 12, 2015
Jim Lampley on Mayweather vs. Berto
Jim Lampley might not be everyone’s cup of tea, which may be why God created coffee.

“There’s a place in the world for somebody as thrillingly skilled as Floyd Mayweather, just as there was a place for Willie Pep…”

Many are shaking their heads, not opening their wallets, in advance of tonight’s fight between Floyd Mayweather and Andre Berto. From the moment it was announced, Berto has seemed a curious choice for this bout, which Floyd says will be his last.

It may in fact be one and done, but some believe he will fight again.

Wanting to get an insider’s take on the Floyd Mayweather phenomenon, specifically as it relates to the fight with Andre Berto, I spoke with HBO’s Jim Lampley. He might not be everyone’s cup of tea, which may be why God created coffee.

“With regards to Andre Berto, it’s not his fault that he’s in the fight,” Lampley told Boxing.com. “He’s a very likeable person. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like and get along not only with Andre but his whole family. But it’s such an odd choice for this particular occasion that it leads me to wonder if that in itself might be part of the equation. There was a moment in time when Andre seemed predestined for a fight with Floyd. He came at the last minute to Foxwoods in Connecticut to observe Andre in what was expected to be Andre’s victory over Victor Ortiz. But Ortiz turned the tables and captured public sentiment for a few minutes, long enough to get the fight with Floyd on the opportunity that Andre lost by losing to Victor—so maybe that stuck in Floyd’s memory, that poor Andre had gotten dissed that particular time. Maybe that had something to do with the merry-go-round coming back around to Andre’s number. I’m not really sure, although I agree with anyone else who observes that it certainly isn’t the choice that would have given fans a sense of excitement and anticipation about the 49th fight of Floyd’s career. Instead, it gave fans a question mark as to why in the world am I watching this. So, it will be interesting under the circumstances to see how the business plays out. But at the end of the day there’s no logic in heaping abuse on Berto. He’s just a lucky guy who happened to be in the right station in the sport at the right moment and got the chance to make some money in a fight that all of us believe he has no chance to win.”

If Mayweather defeats Berto, which seems a foregone conclusion, presumably Floyd will ride off into the sunset, his saddlebags filled to the brim with the proceeds from 19 years of prospecting.

“With regards to Floyd and his career arc and his plans,” continued Lampley, “I’ve said for years that I don’t think there’s any way in the world that he would stop at 49. It doesn’t fit with the established arc of the businessman who maximizes every marketing opportunity and drives every bargain as hard as possible to get the most dollars he can possibly get out of his brilliant talents and his ability to win every fight. The step-by-step process by which it’s been built leads you to have to believe that there’s going to be a 50th fight, because the business dynamics are so obvious. He becomes a free agent. He renegotiates the contract with CBS, or he once again goes elsewhere. Whatever it’s going to be it’s at higher dollars than what’s happened before because the carrot is fight number 50 where he gets to break the Marciano record and put himself in an even better position to substantiate all those claims he likes to make about being the greatest of all time and things of that nature.”

The less said about the “TBE” claim the better. Mayweather is without a doubt the finest fighter of his generation. But I can’t decide if he believes he’s “the best ever” or he’s pulling a fast one on the rubes.

“It’s never made any sense to me that he would stop after fight number 49,” Lampley said. “However, I was just as adamant in saying that he would not fight six times within three years under the contract with CBS the way he said he would and fulfill every obligation under that contract on time the way he guaranteed that he would. I said no, that won’t happen—and it did. So maybe he’s about to confound me again by doing the inexplicable. I will say that in the fighter meetings where I sat and talked with him in a room with a lot of other people in Las Vegas before the Pacquiao fight, he volunteered those statements which have now appeared elsewhere about, ‘I used to love boxing. I don’t love boxing anymore,’ and ‘I don’t like what it does to people.’ Who knows? Maybe that’s genuine. He has spent a long time in the ring doing what he does. People grow. People change over a period of time. But if you were to put a threatening instrument to my head and say, ‘Do you believe that he’s going to fight a 50th fight?’ I’d have to say the logic of the universe tells me, yes, he’s got to fight a 50th fight, or he isn’t Floyd Mayweather anymore.”

We’ll have to wait and see if number 50 is in the cards. That’s for Floyd to decide. But will boxing be better or worse off if and when he retires?

“Once it’s all done and he does in fact stop fighting—although I expect him to still be a presence in the sport for awhile because he’s growing his promotion company, or seems to be, and I think probably has an interest in being part of other boxing careers in the ring—once all that’s done, then I think the sport benefits from the natural fresh air that goes with taking a very, very large, one-of-a-kind personality out of the mix and creating more space in the room for other fighters with other kinds of personalities. If the public begins to learn and identify with other kinds of fighters, particularly power punching fighters who are in the sport at this moment—people like Kovalev and Golovkin and Canelo and Lemieux and what’s left in Cotto’s career and any number of fighters I could name who bring the dimension of knockout power to the sport and to a certain degree have been ignored in the furor over Floyd, and Floyd and Manny—then yeah, it will change the dynamic it will give people a fresh view of other kinds of fighters and other kinds of fighting.

“I’m not one to say that Floyd has been a drag on the sport because of his defensive style. There are people who appreciate the brilliant technical boxer. There’s a place in the world for somebody as thrillingly skilled as Floyd Mayweather, just as there was a place for Willie Pep. But your heart is always going to beat a little faster for Carmen Basilio. Your heart is always going to beat a little faster for Arturo Gatti. And if, for instance, Golovkin vs. Lemieux and Cotto vs. Canelo turn out to be the kind of fights that in your mind’s eye you imagine they might conceivably be, you just hope the universe is aligned in such a way that as many people as possible are paying attention and can see the kind of dramatic entertainment that this sport still delivers.”

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  1. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:54am, 09/12/2015

    Floyd will perform in the new 20,000 seat arena under construction on the Strip and Lampley knows it and so should anyone else who’s paying attention. His amazing “career arc” is the direct result of the synergystic collaboration with the Las Vegas Gaming and Hospitality Industry and the NSAC….since the time that it was decided to flip the first really big Vegas cash cow…. Oscar dela Hoya.

  2. KB 07:06am, 09/12/2015

    Lampley is the best and is spot on here. A very bright man and a very humble one and I am proud to call him my friend.

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