Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has not become irrelevant, despite his best efforts to do so. What he has become is the B side of a fight in which he should be the A side.
While Manny Pacquiao simply keeps training, fighting, cashing large checks and enhancing his worldwide popularity, Mayweather makes what money he can at gambling parlors that have broken richer men than him and more and more sounds like a guy who talks a great fight but no longer wants to be involved in a great fight.
Recently Mayweather went on a rambling dissertation on a Chicago radio station about how he’s an American and hence…well, it beats me.
“The thing is this, I’m an America citizen and I represent this country with the red, white and blue,’’ he told ESPN Chicago. “The only thing I want is the people in my country to stand behind me. I’m in my own country and I have a lot of people against me.
“Our country is a great country, it’s a clean country, and all I ask him (Pacquiao) to do is take the test. That’s it. He takes the test and we got a fight.’’
Mayweather is referring to random blood testing for performance enhancing drugs, which he’s made a requirement for a fight with Pacquiao. It is not an unreasonable request and although he balked at it for a time, Pacquiao claims he’s since agreed to do it in the same manner Shane Mosley did when he fought Mayweather. If he has, someone needs to tell Mayweather it’s time to go back to work.
The fact that one of the few boxing matches general sports fans actually want to see can’t be made points to the reason why the sport has marginalized itself in this country. Hate to say it but if Mayweather and Pacquiao were UFC fighters they would have been inside the Octagon three times by now. That’s why UFC is flourishing while boxing’s relevance in America is approaching horse racing’s.
It doesn’t have to be that way nor is it inevitable that boxing here cannot again flourish as it is in Europe and from time to time does in the United States. All the fighters have to do is fight each other, starting with Mayweather and Pacquiao.
When the interviewer suggested Mayweather-Pacquiao might “save boxing’’ (which is more than a bit of hyperbole because the sport doesn’t need to be saved, it needs to be managed like a proper business), he said. “My job is to keep my family close and take care of my family. My job is not to fight for everybody else. My job is to fight for Floyd Mayweather.’’
Agreed. So fight already.
The odd thing about listening to Mayweather when the subject of Manny Pacquiao comes up is eventually he is drawn inexorably – no matter what the real subject of the conversation is – into pointing out that he’s undefeated and Pacquiao is not.
So what? The truest measure of a fighter is not that he’s undefeated. If it was it would make Joe Mesi bigger than Joe Louis.
An unblemished record may mean you’re great or it may mean you did your best to avoid your most dangerous challenger, which Pacquiao surely is for Mayweather. If that’s the case, then what does it mean to be undefeated?
Frankly, for Floyd, it means less every day.
“You guys must realize about Pacquiao, that’s just a media creation,’’ Mayweather said. “That’s somebody who just came around. For someone to beat me would be abnormal. For someone to beat him is normal because he’s already been beaten three times and knocked out twice. It’s nothing new.’’
Sadly, neither are his words. This has become an old song and a boring one. Although he has always had a fair point about the need for more stringent drug testing in a blood sport like boxing, he seems to have won it but still wants to fight over it.
If he hasn’t, than that would be quickly revealed in any negotiation with Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, and turn the eye of suspicion back on the most popular fighter in the world. And that is what Manny Pacquiao is, a fact that surely grates on a former Dancing With The Stars entrant.
As for Pacquiao’s record, if it’s so normal to beat him then why doesn’t Mayweather just agree to go do it himself and be done with it? If he thinks he can add a fourth blemish to Pacquiao’s record, what’s the hold up?
For a time, Floyd Mayweather had a point in his demands and still does if Pacquiao tries to dodge the issue of blood testing for performance enhancing drugs. But absent that issue, the time has come to put up or shut up.
Boxing is a simple sport in some regards. You’re either a fighter or you’re not.