So this could be it, the finale to a helluva run, the most successful one of this era, and, he sometimes will tell you, any.
Sept. 12 could be the last time fight fans and sports fans will be given the option to see Floyd Mayweather in action, inside a boxing ring, showing off his brand of defensive wizardry which has kept him lossless since he turned pro in 1996.
No less than the man who rolled some heavy dice, Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza, who staked his job security on this decision, has told us he thinks Floyd is in “one and done” mode.
“September 12th will be a historic night no matter what happens,” said Espinoza. “It is generally expected that this will be Floyd Mayweathers' last fight. He has consistently said he will not fight anymore.”
“One last chance for the fans to witness history,” is how Floyd's right hand man Leonard Ellerbe has put it, and one would presume he is inside the Floyd bubble deep enough to know what direction Mayweather is heading.
Yep, Floyd, who owns a 48-0 mark, and will be tying Rocky Marcianos' record of consistent winning, if and when he beats Andre Berto in Vegas, would be content to tie the record, and not break it by trying to go 50-0, probably by fighting the rival he schooled easily on May 2, Manny Pacquiao.
Seems implausible, frankly, to me, on the outside looking in. He tells us boxing is a job, but surely there are millions upon millions of Americans who loath their jobs much more than Mayweather does, and none of them are making the obscene hourly wage he is….
On Aug. 13, Fight Hype posted a video in which “TBE” spoke of fighting, and not fighting, and retiring, and such. He said that his uncle Roger has “lost a lot of memory from his boxing.”
Roger Mayweather (age 54; 59-13) boxed pro from 19811999, but, Floyd said, “It hurts me extremely bad he don't even know who I am anymore.” This reality has Floyd thinking that taking punishment is unwise. Even when making $30-$200 per outing in exchange for the risk…
“My health is more important than anything,” Floyd himself has noted. I haven't met a single person who believes him, that the Berto fight is his last, so if he holds to his word, and all are wrong, then the man deserves a massive clap of hands, for not in fact engaging in a cynical exercise in leveraging and marketing.
But if indeed the hype is reality, that this Sept. 12 is his victory lap, then we must consider this boxing landscape sans Floyd.
I asked longtimer Kathy Duva, who heads Main Events and works with Russian terminator Sergey Kovalev, in some ways the anti Floyd when it comes to how he approaches the sport and business, about the “TBE” legacy.
She spoke on Mayweather-Berto, and Floyd's impact on the sweet science.
“I won't be buying Mayweather-Berto,” Duva told me. “I'll follow you on Twitter instead.”
She said she'd rather put on “real fights,” and thinks Floyd's belief in what matters long-term makes the sport as a whole weaker.
“This is our sport,” she said, “and what he doesn, doesn't reflect well on our sport. This idea that you can't risk a loss…His undefeated record will and would not be a legacy. It's just a bunch of wins.”
Duva noted that Mike Tyson, who of course still gets swarmed whenever and wherever he goes, ten years after he last fought, basically lost his step-up fights. “He never won a big fight! Holmes and Spinks were his biggest wins…but he has more legacy than Floyd will ever dream of having. Because it's not all about wins, it's about taking risks and having entertaining fights. He sure as hell entertained the fans, and that's really what it's all about.”
Here is Duva's direct message to Floyd: “Please retire. Get it over with.”
She's eager to see what 147-154 does when that dust settles, when Floyd hangs up the mitts. And she is pretty damned sure he won't be lumped in with the Leonards and the Durans five, ten, twenty years after he retires. “Who won their fights when they fought, Leonard and Duran and Hearns and Hagler? It's almost immaterial…people almost don't care…they care because they saw the fights!”
Duva offers a recollection which helped remind her what impact is about, how legacy can be built..and not in the way Floyd is doing it. She was walking with Arturo Gatti after Mayweather beat him. It was 2005. People were walking up to Gatti, saying, “Congrats champ!”
He was puzzled, she said.
“What is this? I lost,” Gatti (40-9 and in the Hall of Fame) stated.
“Yes, but these people will be able to tell their grand-children they met you…they don't care you lost. It's about taking the challenge!”
She continued that train of thought: “Taking a chance! Challenging yourself! That's what people want to see. Hey, I wish Mayweather Godspeed….but I'm looking forward to the whole mentality he supports going away.”
In other words, Duva doesn't hate the player, but the game he's been playing, the brand of risk aversion, she is hoping his influence wears off when he leaves the arena.
Check back, and hear from another long-timer who doesn't agree with Duva, who thinks that all in all, Mayweather has been good for the sport…
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