Floyd in New York: Dancing With Fatigue?

BY Michael Woods ON September 18, 2007
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He has a point, does Floyd Mayweather, when he is asked if we’ll see some of that promised toe-to-toe action on Dec. 8 when he meets Ricky Hatton in Vas Vegas.

The sport isn’t called “toe to toe,” it’s called boxing, he said.

And who’ll pay my bills if I get all punch drunk indulging those who crave trading, and multi knockdown wars, over masterful displays of the sweet science, he asked.

Points well taken.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t be looking for the 38-0 Floyd, who wants to be atop the all-time pound for pound list today, let alone when all is said and done, to stand in the pocket and go toe to toe with Hatton.

He’s said we’ll get that, but of course he said the same before his May 5th outing against Oscar De La Hoya, and that scrap was no Gatti/Ward slugfest. In Floyd’s mind, it probably featured enough back and forth action to satisfy guys like me, and hey, if I was the one absorbing the slings and arrows on my noggin, I’d maybe feel the same.

But I don’t want to be labeled the best pound for pounder of all time, do I?

PBF will not be mentioned with the Sugars, and Ali and company, save for a few diehards who revere his brand of boxing, and who are quite satisfied to watch 12 rounds of action that is predicated first and foremost on defense.

Does he get that?

Probably not, judging by his defense at attackers who busted on him for not delivering toe-to-toe tussling enough against Oscar.

Does he care what I want, or what you guys write in and tell me you want? Some, but not enough to change. And when he’s 70, and has all his faculties, he’ll know he made the right choice. But he will not be lumped in with the Sugars and Ali and company. He cannot have it both ways, I’m afraid…

If it’s toe to toe action you crave, reader, you’ll do better to tune in to Floyd on Dancing With the Stars, which kicks off on Sept. 24th, than hope for the same when he meets Hatton (43-0) in Vegas.

Floyd and partner Karinna Smirnoff will be trading steps, and sultry glances, far more than PBF will trade hooks with Hatton.

Get over it, get past it, PBF will never be a trader, even if he promises to indulge our yearnings for those crests and waves of action.

PBF was in New York on Wednesday for an outdoor press conference at Rockefeller Center in the heart of the city. For anyone hoping for the hyped up Mini Fiddy we saw on 24/7, or the smack talking hypemaster we’ve seen give Oscar, and Ricky, the business, well, they were to be disappointed.

Instead, it was a chill-—or maybe fatigued--Mayweather on display, and Hatton, in super deferential form, did nothing to spice up the occasion.

Mayweather told the press that he was in need of a vacation, as he was burned out from business, business, business. He’d like to take his kids to Sea World, he said, but that plan would go off the rails because he’d get mobbed by autograph seekers and such. He didn’t sound like a man loving what he’s doing, and this may present an opportunity for Hatton to jump on.

A month ago, Floyd started training about 5 hours a day for Dancing, and he’ll continue that output, learning moves and routines, as the program begins next Monday. He’s also juggling boxing, so at the end of the day, there isn’t much time to decompress, and be a regular human. Can Hatton capitalize?

I’m double dubious on that possibility.

I believe that he peaked with his 2005 win over rusty Kostya Tszyu, and is unable or unwilling to move his feet like he used to, to get the angles he needs to make his punches count.

PBF will do what he needs to do, stick, move, potshot, flurry, get in, get out, get the win. Ricky will try to bring his MMA style grappling into the ring, but Floyd’s feet won’t allow it. As for the toe to toe action we touched on earlier, we know Floyd sees himself as a businessman boxer, and it wouldn’t be a smart business move to risk serious harm during a boxing engagement. You’ll notice I didn’t use the term fight….

After promoter Oscar De La Hoya, Richard Schaeffer, Bernard Hopkins, Mark Taffett, Billy Graham, Hatton’s attorney, the Tecate beer rep, Leonard Ellerbe, Hatton’s pop Ray, Nigel Collins (the editor of Oscar De La Hoya’s The Ring Magazine), Ricky and PBF had their say, the boxers did a pose down.

PBF took the opportunity to whisper (un)sweet nothings (he told me later that he reminded Hatton that he’d beat nobodies and past-their-primers) into Hatton’s ear. The Brit grinned a bit, but mostly didn’t react to the low-decibel smack talk. This, after he thanked PBF for the opportunity to make a career-best payday…WTF?

Where’s the fire?

Where’s the fire in the eyes, the smoke coming out of the ears?

Maybe that’ll be there on Dec. 8 come fight time.

But does Hatton have to act so subservient?

Does he have to acknowledge his good fortune at landing this supersized payday?

Maybe I’m making too much of it, as he’s never been a smack-talker who needs to goad himself into a mode with snarly banter. Maybe I’m making too much of the fact that it looks like once again, he’ll need to head into camp in fat-shedding mode, rather than coming to camp needing only to carve off the last five pounds to make the 147 pound limit on Dec. 8. Maybe…but I doubt it.

Back to PBF…just because he wasn’t cutting down Hatton as a fatty, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t as admiring of his own talents as ever. He was asked if he was more nervous for the match, or Dancing.

“I don’t know what nervous means,” he said.

Someone asked what he thought about the storyline that Hatton/PBF is somewhat akin to Duran/Leonard back in the day, style wise. PBF didn’t want to go there. “I’ve given 30 years of my life, and got my mom out the ghetto, and my sisters, so I don’t have to say some other fighters are better than me.”

A fan/reporter compared him to Allen Iverson and he dismissed the comparison.

“No, I understand business,” he said. “I got no diamond earrings or tattoos. I can be a reporter or commentator.” He could move in next to a writer, and that person needn’t worry about overspill from a bad element infringing on his life, he said. “Tattoos and all that, that’s not me, I’m real, real classy,” PBF said. “Suits, I love to wear suits, custom made.”

PBF also pointed out that he’s the moneymaker in the sport now, as he’s been the other principal when Oscar, Zab, Gatti, Baldomir and Hatton have gotten their fattest paydays. True ‘nough, PBF, got to give you that point, even if I sometimes find bruises on my body the day after your fights, after I’ve kicked myself for believing that you’d trade more, act more like a FIGHTER than a boxer.

He also implied that much of his schtick is just that, schtick, that he gives the media what we want, which is confrontation. “You guys don’t want, ‘I’m not gonna win.’ You want to see trash talking.”

He did take a shot at Hatton for saying he didn’t deliver the goods, excitement wise. “”All you do is punch hold punch hold,” PBF said to the media assembled after Hatton had jetted. “He wrestles you to death.” And that “big” win Hatton has cited, against Castillo? He won with a “phantom body shot,” PBF said, as Castillo wasn’t up to the task of fighting, because he knew his purse was going to be garnished.

The fatigue factor that could prove to be a wild card plus for Hatton came up when PBF admitted that he had to blow off his friend Fiddy for a video shoot, because he had to fly out to do promotional work in England. He also continued the “I need a vacation” theme when he said, “I don’t get a chance to enjoy myself. I want to come to New York to shop, the best shopping is here. I want to take my kids to Times Square but I can’t because it’s work, it’s business. I need a vacation. After each fight, I’m not getting the chance to enjoy myself. For eleven years, it’s been constant work.”

So, will the Dancing gig prove to be his downfall? Has PBF bitten off too much to chew? No way, he says. Many athletes party too much, use drugs and such. “I’m all natural,” PBF said.

That said, part of the man, the large part of the man, adores all of this, because he digs the spotlight and the adoration. Heck, he says he doesn’t even mind the wiseass columns by guys like me…

“A lot of fighters don’t enjoy the media. They can write what they want, they don’t sign the check, so it don’t matter,” he said.

SPEEDBAG Floyd got off a good line in his time at the mike when he told British fans that they will get a chance to see their guy in action, despite the fact that Dec. 8 is a sellout…in his comeback fight. “When he’s looking like the Elephant Man,” he said.

--So the fight sold out in 30 minutes. Who wants to guess the breakdown of tix sold that will go to Hatton fans versus Floyd fans?

--Paul Malignaggi was on site, and he was fuming. Fuming that Oscar was plugging The Ring, which he purchased, so much. Fuming that he’s waiting to get another big fight shot. Paulie shook hands with PBF after. He’s not such a fan of Hatton’s grabby style, though.

--Hopkins is pretty good as emcee. He basically realizes it’s not about him, which is key.

--Hatton told PBF he was the best P4P. Is he trying to disarm the man with kindness?

--Bernard asked Oscar if he purchased Rockefeller Center, and wondered why no PC was ever held there for him.

--Lou Dibella thinks the Floyd Dancing gig will add 350,000 buys to the Dec. 8 take. Dibella also thinks Floyd might pick off Hatton coming in, and maybe stop him.

--Steve Farhood says no one should be taken in if Floyd says we’ll get toe to toe action. “That totally negates his advantages,” the Showtime analysts told me. “If he does go toe to toe, he’s a fool. I envision a lot of holding by Hatton, and retreating by Floyd. I see a stinker of a fight. But it won’t be Hatton’s fault, he can press the fight more than Oscar did. He’ll try and make it an entertaining fight.” Could this be a cash out fight for Ricky? No, Farhood said, he’s building fanbase in the US, and a loss to PBF won’t kill his momentum.

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