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Mayweather-Mosley: No waste of ‘Money’

26
Apr

“Please re-retire, Floyd, so boxing can continue on without your sideshow.”
ÔÇöTHE RING reader Brian LaTerra, in the “Come Out Writing” section of the May 2010 issue of the magazine

In order to remain a boxing fan for long, you have to possess a deep reservoir of patience. The sport tortures you at times. It tortures you with fights you don’t care about, boring style matchups, judges who award victory to the wrong man and, increasingly over the last few years, expensive pay-per-views with undercards that aren’t worth a penny. Those who remain boxing fans do so because they know the payoff is coming. They know their patience will be rewarded in the form of a matchup so intriguing or a slugfest so exhilarating that it provides the kind of natural high you can’t get anywhere else.

The return of Floyd Mayweather from his brief “retirement” (quotation marks very much necessary) began as a textbook example of putting fans’ patience to the test. The above quote from RING reader Brian LaTerra typified the way numerous fight fans felt. From the moment Mayweather announced his un-retirement in March ’09 until he signed to fight Shane Mosley in Feb. 2010, the five-division former titlist left many observers feeling as if he were doing more harm than good. He wasn’t providing excitement. He wasn’t engaging in intriguing fights. He was little more than a loud-mouthed distraction. He was, in LaTerra’s words, a “sideshow.”

Then he put his name on the contract to fight Mosley. When “Money” steps into the ring at the MGM Grand this Saturday night, any disappointment produced by the first year of his comeback should instantly vanish. Mosley vs. Mayweather is the fight fan’s reward for the frustration that preceded it.

In case you’re so excited about this weekend’s superfight that you’ve already forgotten the shortcomings of Mayweather’s first post-vacation year, here’s a brief refresher course: For his comeback fight, he hand-picked Juan Manuel Marquez, who had never fought above 135 pounds (Mayweather, meanwhile, had weighed between 146 and 150 in his previous five fights); he made a mockery of the weigh-in process by never trying to boil down to the agreed-upon 144-pound limit, instead coming in at 146 and all too happily paying a $600,000 fine; his fight with Marquez provided hardly any entertainment; and he engaged in about two months worth of fruitless negotiations for a fight with Manny Pacquiao, only to accuse Pacquiao of using steroids with no proof and require drug testing he’d never asked of any previous opponent.

Without question, there are two sides to some of these coins. Marquez was undersized, but he was rated No. 2 on most pound-for-pound lists coming in. The Marquez fight was boring, but Mayweather gave a near flawless performance and shouldn’t be criticized for dominating with discipline. And for everyone who blames Mayweather for the Pacquiao fight unraveling, there’s someone else who blames Pacquiao for not agreeing to comprehensive drug testing.

Still, the fact remains that, as of the end of January, Mayweather’s second career had been nothing but a big, time-wasting tease.

Then he signed for arguably the most dangerous fight possible, and undoubtedly the biggest fight possible once Pacquiao fell through.

“Mayweather’s move toward Mosley is brilliant because he really shifted the paradigm in terms of what’s happening in boxing right now,” HBO analyst Max Kellerman observed. “Pacquiao-[Joshua] Clottey was supposed to be the consolation prize for Pacquiao-Mayweather not happening. So Pacquiao became the leading man because his fight was the consolation prize, not Mayweather’s next fight, which it was thought would come against a lesser opponent. When Mayweather took Mosley, he shifted the entire landscape, he made himself the focal point. Suddenly Pacquiao-Clottey became the NLCS and Mayweather-Mosley is the Yankees and the Red Sox.”

Some have suggested Mayweather was backed into a corner and had to make the Mosley fight to save face. But maybe it was less a case of being backed into a corner and more a case of wanting to step into the spotlight. If Mayweather felt he’d been surpassed by Pacquiao in terms of star power, he surely understood that fighting Sugar Shane could reverse that.

Mayweather – or, at least, the caricature of himself that he presents to the public – is motivated by three things: money (hence the nickname), attention and his perfect record. With the Mosley fight, he’s pursuing the first two elements, while running the risk that it will cost him the third.

And that’s really all that boxing fans want out of him. Some root for him to win and others root for him to lose, but ultimately nobody will criticize him if he takes fights in which winning and losing are both possibile, like this one against Mosley.

However, because Mayweather has often looked for fights in which the outcome was obvious – which describes every fight he’s had since 2002 except for maybe the ones against Zab Judah and Oscar De La Hoya – a large segment of the boxing public considers his “perfect” 40-0 career to be a major disappointment.

“I always thought that the criticism of Mayweather was a little overdone,” opined Kellerman. “Every fighter’s manager is looking to maximize earning potential while minimizing risk. In Mayweather’s case, because everyone is aware that he’s more intimately involved in the decisions in terms of who he fights, some of the onus that would be put on another fighter’s manager or promoter is put on Mayweather. But that’s Mayweather the manager, not necessarily Mayweather the fighter.

“I think the conflation of those two identities is what hurts Mayweather the person. Mayweather the manager, he’s picking and choosing, whereas Mayweather the fighter, you think, ‘Well, Mayweather can beat this guy, why is his manager being careful?’ Because that’s all the same guy, it hurts him.”

On Feb. 3, however, Mayweather the manager stopped babying Mayweather the fighter, and on May 1, Mayweather the fighter will be facing the best all-around opponent of his career. If Mayweather wins, then clearly the risk was worthwhile. If he loses, it still might have been worthwhile.

And for fans, no matter what happens, the fact that we’re getting this fight makes it worth our while to have put up with any nonsense that preceded it.

RASKIN’S RANTS

ÔÇó Good for Mayweather for refusing to pay his sanctioning fees. (Maybe Uncle Roger can get a “SANCTIONING FEES SUCK” T-shirt.) Alphabet trinkets should be, and apparently are, utterly worthless to Mayweather at this stage of his career. Hopefully he’ll take it a step further if he wins and find out just how far a “diamond belt” can be shoved up Jose Sulaiman’s rear end.

ÔÇó Reason No. 793 why 24/7 isn’t as good as it used to be: In the first season or two, Mayweather was 50 percent real person, 50 percent character. Now there’s nothing at all real about him. Everything he does or says is a carefully designed act to make sure the people who hate him learn to hate him even more so they’ll order the fight in hopes of seeing him knocked out. Personally, I don’t hate him for the offensive things he says; I hate him for the unconvincing way in which he says them.

ÔÇó Did anyone catch how, in the preview for next week’s episode of 24/7, the voiceover referred to Mayweather-Mosley as “the biggest fight of the decade”? Since we’re only four months into the decade, it’s a true statement. But it’s also the sort of statement you typically make with tongue firmly planted in cheek, since about 97 percent of the decade lies ahead of us. Unfortunately, the voiceover played without the slightest hint of irony, which begs the question: Why does HBO think they need to go for the bend-the-truth oversell with a fight of this quality?

ÔÇó With 30 seconds to go in a fantastic 12th round between Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch, Showtime blow-by-blow man Gus Johnson saw fit to detract from the action with a mention of which alphabet title was at stake. And it was probably about his 10th such reference during the fight. I don’t know about you, but I like knowing that the people calling the fights are boxing people. Johnson clearly is not one. He outed himself as wholly unaware of what a joke these titles have become and how detrimental the alphabets have been to the sport.

ÔÇó If anyone cares, I had Kessler-Froch scored 114-114. I thought Froch was in control most of the fight, but Kessler threw more, came forward more and wanted it more. Even though Kessler won, I’m fully convinced now that he’s not the same fighter he was three years ago. And even though Froch lost, I now believe that we’ve been underrating him and his chances in this tournament. In my estimation, Froch has a realistic chance of winning the Super Six, something I wouldn’t have said at the outset.

ÔÇó For some reason, I woke up Sunday morning really craving a Cona beer.

ÔÇó Line of the weekend clearly goes to Cris Arreola, with his “Look at me, I look like f—ing Shrek right now.” Despite his loss to Tomasz Adamek, I hope to see Arreola back on HBO again soon, in part because if he has to fight on ESPN2 or Fox Sports, they won’t be able to air his spectacular postfight interviews.

Eric Raskin can be reached at [email protected] You can read his articles each month in THE RING magazine.

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