Floyd Mayweather Jr. goes with “Money” over “TBE”
This was never about being the greatest boxer of all time.
Not even close.
And I think that is what bothers fight fans more than anything else with Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s selection of Andre Berto in what is supposed to be the pound-for-pound king’s swan song. The idea that Mayweather has only fought for money despite his exceptional ability is infinitely frustrating for fans who would like to believe that the competitive spirit of a fighter is what drives him to be the best.
However, for Floyd “Money” Mayweather, it’s all about business. The lowest risk for the highest reward. Because, if Mayweather truly cared about his legacy, he wouldn’t have hand selected a fighter who is absolutely undeserving of this fight. Even though he has already dispatched of what was perceived as his most significant threat in Manny Pacquiao, it shouldn’t mean that he gets a night off while cashing another $30 million check to complete his lucrative Showtime contract.
This can be viewed as Mayweather robbing the bank. But in Mayweather’s eyes, he’s just doing his job and fulfilling his contract. And the toughest pill to swallow is that he has never wavered from the idea that the “prize” is the most significant part of being a “prize fighter” and far more important than being recognized as the greatest boxer of all time.
“My daughter can’t eat an undefeated record,” Mayweather said in the days leading up to his historic showdown with Manny Pacquiao that earned him over $200 million. He wasn’t lying to us. He was hiding in plain sight. We just continued to fall for it.
As a businessman, Mayweather has proven that he is the sharpest mind in the history of the sport. He managed to figure out how a technically sound boxer could manufacture an image that would compensate for his lack of knockout power and become the richest athlete in the world. The business side of Mayweather’s story is something that should be praised and taught in collegiate courses.
What Mayweather managed to do was take the power away from the promoters, managers, agents and owners who have often left professional athletes (especially boxers) battered, broken and, ultimately, broke, and flipped the script. William C. Rhoden’s 2006 book infamous coined athletes as $40 million dollar slaves. Mayweather went from slave to becoming rich enough to own the entire plantation and that, in itself, is a feat that should be applauded.
However, we fight fans who enjoy this idea of competition have good reason to be appalled by Mayweather selecting Berto as the beneficiary of the Mayweather Lottery. When we look at Mayweather inside of the ring, we see a fighter who has remarkable talent and could challenge to be the greatest boxer in the history of the sport. His in-ring wizardry may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it damn sure is impressive. To be 48-0 at the age of 38 is a remarkable feat and should be applauded. He has kept himself in phenomenal shape and will walk away from boxing with all of his faculties intact. But it has become extraordinarily frustrating to watch Mayweather not challenge himself because he doesn’t have to anymore. He has put himself in position where he doesn’t need to face the toughest challenges and that has always been the most significant argument against his legacy.
It’s like Mike Trout being on the verge of the home run record and then being given the ability to select a lowly pitcher from the minor leagues to pitch to him. There’s always going to be somebody somewhere who will argue that “he earned that right” but it ruins the spirit of competition. And that is what we, as fans, pay our hard earned money to see. If Michael Jordan got to the NBA Finals and was able to sidestep the team that earned the right to face the Chicago Bulls in favor of the lowly Clippers, his legacy would be tarnished beyond recognition. That is what Mayweather is essentially doing by facing a fighter who has been knocked out by Jesus Soto-Karass and lost to Robert Guerrero and Victor Ortiz – who both went on to lose handily to Mayweather.
What other sport could this possibly happen in? Not baseball, football, basketball, hockey, golf, tennis or soccer. Hell, even mixed martial arts doesn’t allow its champions to select their opponent. But Mayweather has beaten the system and we, as fight fans, have allowed it. It will be interesting to see how well this pay per view fares but the thought of anyone coughing up their hard earned cash for a glorified sparring session just feels like you are contributing to the crumbling of boxing’s kingdom.
There is a train of thought that people are hitching their wagon to that suggests that Mayweather picked Berto so he could thrill fans with an exciting fight and end his career with a knockout. But what if Mayweather doesn’t knock out Berto? Then what? Even if he does, who cares? I don’t want to watch Serena Williams beat up the 193rd ranked tennis player who made it to the finals of Wimbledon due to a paid ride through the tournament.
Maywather is such a gifted athlete that he could have faced a Keith Thurman, Kell Brook, Amir Khan or Shawn Porter. Of course, none of those names would be favored to win, but each of them have earned the opportunity to challenge the pound for pound king of boxing. Not Berto. It just isn’t fair to deserving welterweight contenders and it’s robbing the fans of a “What If?” moment. James “Buster” Douglas earned the right to face Mike Tyson and nobody gave him a shot to win. We saw how that story ended.
There is no drama or intrigue in a fight with Berto. We know how this story ends, too.
But what if Mayweather decided to pull off the most epic trolling of fight fans by taking a dive against Berto? The fact that this thought has crossed my mind on more than one occasion speaks to the bizarre nature of the sweet science. Mayweather believes that he’ll never get the respect that he deserves (and he’s probably right) so I wouldn’t put it past him to shock the world by laying down against Berto. It could be viewed as a political statement of sorts where fans are exposed for what they truly are: bloodthirsty individuals who could care less about the wellbeing of the athletes we cheer today and forget tomorrow as long as we get our pint of blood.
But it’s not that deep for Floyd Mayweather.
He just wants to be rich.
He wants to be “The Best Ever.”
His nickname is “Money.”
He’s told us over and over again what it is. We just refused to accept it. And that’s why we’re getting Mayweather-Berto on Sept. 12.