Some people are better at retirement than others.
Some folks find that they are happy when they step away from the 9-to-5 grind, and are able to fill their days taking pleasure in hobbies, housework and works of philanthropy. Others, usually males, anecdotal evidence shows, tend to drive their significant others batty, as they find themselves out of sorts with a vastly reduced daily structure and reason for being. They end up following their SOs around the house, critiquing their vaccuming skills, and generally proving themselves to be such nuisances that they spur their SOs to vocalize their frustration at their constant presence around the house, and spur threats of battery by vacuum cleaner and divorce.
Looks like Floyd Mayweather is more the latter sort of retiree than the former.
Now, I contemplated letting Floyd’s July 4th newsdump pass, without devoting any space on TSS to analyze the firework he lobbed at HBO’s announcers. But I could not do so. I could not let Floyd’s moronic, misguided, insulting remarks made to writer David Mayo pass without getting in my two cents.
In case you were busy with holiday goings-on, Mayweather blasted the HBO announce crew for their treatment of him, a man who has grossed eight or nine figures worth of purses and license fees as a result of the promotional push provided by employees of HBO.
“Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant, Emanuel Steward, they're always talking about the negative things in my life,” Mayweather said to Mayo. “But I've seen Jim Lampley in the same strip club as me before. They always want to talk about me going to strip clubs, but they don't want to talk about that.”
Now, I have no clue about the clubgoing activities of Jim Lampley, and whether or not he has ever visited any establishment where dollars are tucked into garters, rather than deposited by the bucketload into bank accounts, and spent on luxury cars, and homes, and bets on athletic events. But Lampley is a commentator, he is paid to provide analysis of sporting events. He is not the show. He is a celebrity in a loose sense of the term, unlike Mayweather, who has been paid obscene sums of money to perform for our entertainment. Thus, Lampley’s post-work activities cannot and should not be scrutinized to the same extent as an entertainer like Mayweather, who is a public figure who benefits spectacularly from being in the public eye, and thus can expect his extracurricular activities to be focused upon by the loads and loads of persons who admire and revere him.
Mayweather kept at Lampley, who in early 2007 was accused by his then girlfriend of committing domestic abuse. Lampley’s case was widely covered, but the DAs decision not to charge him for abuse did not receive the same amount of coverage.
“He caught a court case himself, too,” the boxer said to Mayo. “But when they catch a case, all they do is take them off the air a couple weeks, then it's over.”
Not sure what penalty Floyd would lobby for. Dismissal? Castration?
As I let these Mayweather M-80s sink in, I tried to fathom his motivation for this fusillade. Was he bored? Was he angry that Lampley and company were offering positive analysis on boxers still active in the arena, men like Kelly Pavlik and Manny Pacquiao, who exemplify throwback tendencies of old school warriors we all revere, who see their mission in the ring as an exercise in aggressive offense, rather than a showcase in ring generalship? Had he lost big dough on the Lakers/Celtics series, and was still salty over that?
Mayweather kept on lighting fuses, and tossing insults.
“Even a guy like Jim Lampley, he praises Kelly Pavlik — who has won some good fights, he beat Jermain Taylor twice, we have to give him credit for that — but they talk about Kelly Pavlik, a white fighter, like he's the second coming. Or they go crazy over Manny Pacquiao. But I'm a black fighter. Is it racial? Absolutely. They praise white fighters, they praise Hispanic fighters, whatever. But black fighters, they never praise.”
Mercy, when I saw this one, my eyes bugged out. Suffice to say that the NAACP is never going to take up the cause of Floyd, who has made himself mega-millions of dollars, despite, he maintains, being the victim of racism. The level of insult to people who actually bear the brunt of bigotry is stunning here. Taylor has received ample praise over the years on HBO, as has Bernard Hopkins, as has Winky Wright, as has Roy Jones, as has George Foreman, as has Lennox Lewis, who, not coincidentally, is employed by the same organization Floyd is smearing by accusing them of condoning racial bias.
Let me be the one to clue Floyd in here, as apparently his team of advisors have not been inclined to clue him in, or have been unsuccessful at doing so…the HBO analysts, and that goes for Lampley, Merchant, Steward, Kellerman and Lewis, typically are prone to give credit to boxers whose styles are in line with Pavlik and Pacquiao, over more defensively oriented fighters, like Mayweather. This is the only bias I can put my finger on regarding the gang at HBO, other than a bias for the suits who seem to be hell-bent on making money. Yup, the powers that be, which happen to include a black man, Kery Davis, who most of the day to day shots regarding boxing in his capacity as senior VP of sports, shockingly attempt to maximize their revenue, above any other singular aim. So, I didn’t happen to see any examples of bias, racial or otherwise, as HBO was throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars of advertising, and documentary infomercials, at the Mayweather/De La Hoya bout in the summer of 2007.
Again, I wondered what Mayweather was thinking when he lit the fuse on this race card explosive device. Was he thinking at all?
Was there any motivation behind it, or was he just a tad jealous that Pavlik and Pacquiao, two men who have shown warrior qualities inside the ring, and a humble demeanor outside the ring, were garnering praise that he felt was owed to him?
Does he truly see himself as a retired boxer, or merely one on hiatus, who should still be regarded as the P4P best, and all others should be afforded mere interim status until he chooses to make his inevitable reappearance to the sport?
Does he truly perceive racial bias, or is someone whispering incendiary fodder in his ear, trying to whip him into a frenzy to goad him into returning to the ring, so he will earn another oversized paycheck, and that whisperer can chip off a chunk for themselves? Mayweather leaves himself open to speculation on his motives when he lobs such inflammatory rhetoric., without providing concrete examples to bolster his argument.
“I've noticed it for a long time but I couldn't say anything because I had to do business with them,” he said to Mayo. “I'll still do business with them, but I'm done holding my tongue. I think HBO is great. But their announcers are full of (expletive).”
Okay, I get it, as long as you are making piles of dough you are willing to hold your tongue that the blatant mistreatment you have suffered through. Some would call that selling out, Floyd.
HBO televised 21 of Mayweather's last 22 fights, either on its main network or pay-per-view arm, Mayo pointed out, so Floyd has been holding his tongue for a long spell. Maybe it was easier for Floyd to hold his tongue because the suits okayed underwhelming foes like Henry Bruseles, and faded Sharmba Mitchell and Arturo Gatti in recent years.
You may recall, in 1999, that Mayweather accused HBO and then promoter Bob Arum of offering him a “slave contract” during negotiating sessions. That “slave contract” amounted to $12.5 million spread out over three years. Mayweather never retracted that statement, one blatantly insulting to anyone who was touched by the disgraceful, shameful practice of slavery, and my guess is that he will not take back this latest salvo.
“I'm happy. I feel clear. I feel free as a bird,” he said to Mayo. “I feel good that I can finally speak out, and say the things I want to say.”
Sad is the best word to sum up this latest Mayweather antic. I feel like such a flip flopper on the subject of Floyd; I thought he’d made strides in becoming a more mature man after he dispatched Ricky Hatton in December. But I do believe that he is too damaged, too compromised by his fragile ego and the emotional turmoil that his fractious upbringing has sentenced him to, for him to ever see the light, and count his blessings, and be the positive force, as an athlete and role model, that he could be.
Mind you, lest anyone out there dismiss my stance as a pro HBO suckup job, let me state clearly that I do not make the claim that HBO is faultless. I do not care for many of the matches the company has made in recent years, and believe that HBO-contracted fighters are too often allowed to engage in record and hype building faceoffs, with an eye towards facilitating pay-per-view bouts, rather than true tests of their skills. I was disappointed in the remarks put forth by HBO sports president Ross Greenburg, who seemed to rip a page from the John Kerry 2004 campaign handbook when he said, “Floyd is a tremendous athlete who gave his all to the sport. We have nothing but admiration for what he accomplished in the ring. His remarks regarding HBO broadcasters and executives are unfortunate and we could not disagree more. We will not engage in a debate. We are very disappointed in hearing about this. We wish him well in retirement.”
We wish him well?
Ross, he just ripped you and yours two, maybe three new ones, and you wish him well?
We all know that HBO and Floyd will likely kiss and make up, for purposes of maximizing revenue accumulation when Floyd comes back. But I would have liked to see Ross and company tell him that they repudiate his remarks, strongly, and announce publicly that they have decided that they will no longer pursue a business arrangement with somebody who takes such offense at their methods and personnel. But that would mean leaving some money on the table, and that’s not bloody likely.
It’s all a bit sad, as stated before, but luckily, the savage science has been on an uptick recently, with as fighters like Pacquiao and Pavlik are manufacturing excitement, and pride, in the much maligned sphere of prizefighting. Hopefully Floyd will go on a lucky streak in his beat-the-bookie habit, or even better, latch on to some charitable cause that would benefit from his donations and charisma. Barring that, maybe he can spend some of his free time studying up on all the instances of true racial bias that are rampant in this nation and others, and perhaps do some good in improving the problems, rather than whining like a bored, petulant malcontent.