Floyd Mayweather’s Pugilistic Encore. Is It a Go or a “Maybe?”

Floyd Mayweather’s Pugilistic Encore – Fighters who claim they are irreversibly intent on retiring from the ring are like former chart-topping vocalists who sing a supposedly final song at a concert, walk off the stage for a few minutes but almost always perform for an encore or two after the audience begs for just a little bit extra. The undisputed queen of the long goodbye is Cher, who seemingly was on her “farewell” tour for 20 years.

It is established procedure in sports and in the music business for top performers to edge toward the exit, their pledge to step away possibly genuine at the outset but more likely rehearsed, creating a frenzy among their fans for comebacks made as frequently as those launched by the former bride of Sonny Bono and Gregg Allman. It’s one thing to give the people what they want, and quite another to leave ’em wanting more. The stutter-step is the stuff comebacks, and encores, are made of.

Given the pattern that he himself has helped make into an art form, it should have come as no surprise when Floyd Mayweather Jr. — who announced his third and presumably final retirement as an active boxer eight months ago after scoring a typically dominant unanimous decision over Andre Berto — dropped very broad hints last Saturday night that he is considering still another pugilistic encore.

In Washington, D.C., as the promoter of a super middleweight championship doubleheader in which James DeGale defended his IBF title on a unanimous decision over Rogelio Medina and Badou Jack, Mayweather’s fighter, retained his WBC belt on a majority draw with Lucien Bute, the 39-year-old Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs) made it clear he is leaning toward lacing up the gloves again.

Speaking to Showtime’s Jim Gray, Mayweather responded to a question as to whether he would come back more in a bid to go 50-0, thus surpassing the late heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano’s near-mythic mark of 49-0, or for another huge payday, “Money” laughed and said, “Both. If I came back, of course, it would have to be a nine-figure payday and probably a championship fight.”

Mayweather noted that he has “been talking with CBS and Showtime” about a potential return “for some crazy numbers,” although he did allow that “right now I’m really happy being on this (promotional) side, helping our fighters.”

It has been widely predicted since Mayweather — who set every financial record there is (4.4 million pay-per-view buys, $400 million-plus in PPV revenues and a $220 million payday for himself for his May 2, 2015, unanimous decision over fellow superstar Manny Pacquiao) — easily outpointed Berto that another encore by the 12-time world champion in five weight classes was as certain as darkness at midnight. But there were at least a few who took him at his word when he solemnly intoned, “My career is over. It’s official. I was able to retire from the sport with all my faculties and not let the sport retire me.”

Mayweather said it was his intention to not only grow his promotional company, but to spend more time with his family, which is the standard reason stated by fighters for taking their leave from their time-consuming and health-endangering profession.

Even before Mayweather revealed his wavering commitment to his most recent retirement pledge, however, evidence mounted that another comeback had been set in motion. ESPN.com reported Mayweather Promotions has filed for trademarks to “TMT 50” and “TBE 50” on April 21, “TMT” standing for “The Money Team” and “TBE” for “The Best Ever.” Why seek trademark protection that includes the number 50 when your record is frozen at 49-0?

Few elite boxers step away and stay away forever. Marciano did it, as did Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Lennox Lewis, but the list of such promise-keepers is short in comparison to that of the promise-breakers. Sugar Ray Leonard, the Mayweather of his era, announced six retirements and rescinded five, making him a de facto emperor of the encore.

“You always think of yourself as the best you ever were. That’s human nature,” Leonard, who turns 60 on May 17, said in 2013 when the matter of boxing comebacks was raised for what must have seemed the umpteenth time. “And that’s not just how highly successful people think. Everyone thinks that way. Most guys come back for money. They need another payday, and there are people around them feeding their egos, telling them how good they still are. Maybe they come back because they really don’t know anything but boxing, and they’re apprehensive about entering the next phase of their lives that doesn’t include it.

“But even if money is not an issue (and that certainly would appear to be the case with Floyd), and you have other options, you never lose that belief in yourself as a fighter, particularly if you’ve been to the very top of the mountain. (Being retired) eats at you. It’s hard to find anything else that can give you that high.”

Mayweather no doubt can relate to the gospel according to Ray. He nearly broke down in tears in announcing his first retirement, after he had lifted Carlos Baldomir’s WBC welterweight title on a unanimous decision on Nov. 4, 2006. Sure, Mayweather fought twice more after that, but, to many, the joy seemed to have gone out of boxing for him.

As the then-president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, I presented Floyd with his 2007 Fighter of the Year Award at the 83rd annual BWAA Awards Dinner in Los Angeles on May 1, 2008, and my impression was that he was looser and happier than he’d been in some time. Not long after he’d collected his hardware, he announced a second retirement, in the process withdrawing from a scheduled Sept. 20 megafight with Oscar De La Hoya.

Was Mayweather contemplating such a step when he appeared at the BWAA dinner? He’d branched out with celebrity gigs on “Dancing With The Stars” and a guest appearance with World Wrestling Entertainment, which, if nothing else, allowed him to have some fun.

It was no secret he’d been dealing with tender hands throughout his career. Coping with that discomfort, and the emotional duress of going off to training camp for extended periods of time, which separated him from his children, was said to have attributed to the chipping away of Mayweather’s resolve to keep on keeping on. It was in the perhaps foolish expectation that he would stick to his second retirement assurance that led me to write this for my newspaper, the Philadelphia Daily News:

Most fighters who quit the ring while at or near the top can’t resist the urge to attempt comeback after comeback. For Mayweather – the only world champion to walk away from boxing with an unblemished record since Rocky Marciano in 1956 – walking away now was about finding happiness in his personal life. It’s hard to knock anyone for that.

Fool me once (or twice), shame on you. Fool me twice (or three times), shame on me. Mayweather fought 10 times after I incorrectly predicted he was going to be content taking his kids to Disney World or whatever, so I wasn’t exactly buying into his vow to retire after he cuffed Berto around. Not only had I processed Leonard’s reasons for fighters taking their leave to keep making U-turns, but I remember the scene when Bernard Hopkins, then a spry guy just 41 years of age, had scored a unanimous, 12-round decision over Antonio Tarver on June 10, 2006.

“I’m done,” B-Hop said in announcing his retirement at the post-fight press conference. “There’s nothing else to do. I’ve heard some people say, `What about this? What about that?’ Let’s keep it real, y’all. I don’t need to risk anything else. What am I gonna do, go to cruiser(weight)? Heavyweight? There’s nothing else to do. I want to be able to see my daughter. I want to be able to know who her teachers are, because I’m not home half the time. I’m in camp. So now family is more important than boxing.

“I’m humbled but I’m proud that I got a chance to go out on top. How many fighters go out on top?”

Last I checked, Hopkins was 51 and still talking about taking one final fight, if only the right opponent and adequate compensation for mixing it up with that opponent was forthcoming. And, no, I am not buying WBA/WBO/lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury’s promise to quit boxing forever following his July 9 rematch with Wladimir Klitschko. It’s not that Fury is lying, exactly, it’s just that he probably is a little weak on telling the truth. Most fighters are when the uncomfortable subject of retirement is raised, even when they’re the ones raising it.

There is one way, probably the only way, for another Mayweather encore to come to a screeching halt while still in the discussion stage. “Money” places an extremely high value on himself, which is justified, one supposes, given his unquestioned status as a genius of his craft. But if the “crazy numbers” he said CBS and Showtime are mentioning aren’t delivered in the form of a contract, it’s doubtful Mayweather’s pride would allow for him to accept a steep discount for the provision of his services. The long-anticipated showdown with Pacquiao registered low on the excitement chart, resulting in a PPV drop to a disappointing 550,000 subscriptions for the equally uninteresting bout with Berto.

Would CBS/Showtime, or anyone else, guarantee Mayweather a minimum of $100 million to swap punches a second time with Pacquiao? Or a first time with Danny Garcia or the winner of the June 25 Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter bout (which takes place in Brooklyn the night after the 91st BWAA Awards Dinner, at which Mayweather will receive his third Fighter of the Year Award)? It’s doubtful, even if the ghost of Marciano hovered above the promotion like a supernatural come-on. Would Mayweather perform an encore for a piddling purse of eight figures instead of nine? Also doubtful.

So, until further notice, the return of Floyd Mayweather Jr. is merely an interesting topic of conversation. But it will be talked about just the same, because, whether he’s back in the game or just considering it, the man is a lightning rod for controversy and speculation.

You have to think he wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

Comment on this article

COMMENTS

-Kid Blast :

As long as it's a relatively safe opponent, It's a go. But like Domenic said in one of his many sage posts, to achieve true greatness and ATG status, you have to do what SRL did and go after a "Hagler." So the question is: who out there is a Hagler?


-The Good Doctor :

As long as it's a relatively safe opponent, It's a go. But like Domenic said in one of his many sage posts, to achieve true greatness and ATG status, you have to do what SRL did and go after a "Hagler."
So the question is: who out there is a Hagler?
Does not exist. If he wants to impress people, GGG, would be the most impressive win out there should he take him on and defeat him. However, if he beat GGG, people would play the result and say GGG was untested and not as good as advertised.


-Kid Blast :

Does not exist. If he wants to impress people, GGG, would be the most impressive win out there should he take him on and defeat him. However, if he beat GGG, people would play the result and say GGG was untested and not as good as advertised.
With due humble respect. I must disagree. GGG, rightly or wrongly, is perceived as being invincible (though I agree that he has not been tested). He, along with one of the lads from the UK or the Porter-Thurman winner might be enough to sate the fans. IMO, it's all about perception. Now if Broner could win something worthwhile, a fight with him would be very safe and perhaps financially rewarding. Also, Canelo-Khan winner. So GGG - Hagler but I doubt Mayweather would do a SRL.


-The Good Doctor :

With due humble respect. I must disagree. GGG, rightly or wrongly, is perceived as being invincible (though I agree that he has not been tested). He, along with one of the lads from the UK or the Porter-Thurman winner might be enough to sate the fans. IMO, it's all about perception. Now if Broner could win something worthwhile, a fight with him would be very safe and perhaps financially rewarding. Also, Canelo-Khan winner. So GGG - Hagler but I doubt Mayweather would do a SRL.
Interesting point of view............ So are you saying that Floyd challenging GGG would be equivalent to SRL taking on Hagler? If I am not understanding correctly, please let me know. However, if you are saying it is, it's subjective so I can't call you wrong but I just don't see GGG being in the neighborhood of being Hagler-esque. Even though Hagler was not the buzzsaw he was in his prime, he was still very formidable and had the notches in his belt of Duran, Hearns, Mugabi, and Hamsho twice.


-Kid Blast :

Doctor, keeping in mind that reality is 90% perception, that is what I am saying. GGG would be Mayweather's "Hagler." It's not so much Hagler as it is the fact that Mayweather would come back and challenge and beat the "best. "That would give him his ATG Gravitas in my view.


-The Good Doctor :

Doctor, keeping in mind that reality is 90% perception, that is what I am saying. GGG would be Mayweather's "Hagler." It's not so much Hagler as it is the fact that Mayweather would come back and challenge and beat the "best. "That would give him his ATG Gravitas in my view.
Gotcha. I wasn't following your line thinking. Now that I understand it, I do agree. I highly doubt he is looking for his "Hagler" though. My money is more on a Garcia, Crawford, or Canelo again. I also wouldn't be surprised if after that he fights once more for another gigantic payday.


-Kid Blast :

Here is Domenic's riveting post: "Ray Leonard came off a years-long layoff and fought Hagler not at 154, but at middleweight, for the undisputed title. No tune-up, and people/media-of-the-time feared for his life. Titles meant something then. Irrespective of where you stand on the decision (I favored MH, but accept the other side; Hagler fought orthodox, gave away early, damageless rounds, and was also trending south as a fighter due to wars, time, etc). But Ray's willingness to chase greatness was brilliant, courageous, ballsy beyond belief, epic, historic. Floyd's not that guy. That's what made Ray Leonard an icon. Floyd is phenomenal from a monetary standpoint. He's P4P#1 in that category, all time. But historically, he's at the Joe Calzaghe level to me. Nothing to scoff at. A HOF'er, great, but not transcendent. Several notches below Ray Leonard. Now if he returned and accepted a Golovkin assignment, that assessment changes, win or lose. But that's not his deal. It's not in the calculus for him to operate that way. And there's nothing wrong with that. He's a mogul. But he's NOT elite all time. "


-Kid Blast :

Gotcha. I wasn't following your line thinking. Now that I understand it, I do agree. I highly doubt he is looking for his "Hagler" though. My money is more on a Garcia, Crawford, or Canelo again. I also wouldn't be surprised if after that he fights once more for another gigantic payday.
Agreed


-dollar bond :

Double agreed


-amayseng :

Does not exist. If he wants to impress people, GGG, would be the most impressive win out there should he take him on and defeat him. However, if he beat GGG, people would play the result and say GGG was untested and not as good as advertised.
Disagree, if Floyd fights GGG at 160 with no stipulations he would receive FULL credit for the win. GGG has an amateur stellar career to go along with what the eye test shows as A level skills and talent. Floyd should dare to be great and take on the challenge of GGG that he spoke of would be easy. However he is 39 and he knows and feels he is not the same and wont risk it. He beats the brakes off of Garcia in a 12 round ud. nothing special and nothing that will result in a lucrative decision for cbs or whoever does it.


-Radam G :

Disagree, if Floyd fights GGG at 160 with no stipulations he would receive FULL credit for the win. GGG has an amateur stellar career to go along with what the eye test shows as A level skills and talent. Floyd should dare to be great and take on the challenge of GGG that he spoke of would be easy. However he is 39 and he knows and feels he is not the same and wont risk it. He beats the brakes off of Garcia in a 12 round ud. nothing special and nothing that will result in a lucrative decision for cbs or whoever does it.
Even if he were 19 or 29, Lil Floyd would not scrap with 3g. Don't believe the nonsense that fighters take risks. It is just the opposite. Pugs minimumize risks by hook, crook, book or ducking. Besides, the game is prizefighting, not pride fighting. Little Floyd is not trying to get that work, because he would never get his asking prize. Now if you guarantee Lil Floyd $400mil to $700mil, he'd get froggy and take a risk with a lot of stipulations, such as a larger ring, a referee of his choice and a fast, hard canvas. Holla!


-The Good Doctor :


Disagree, if Floyd fights GGG at 160 with no stipulations he would receive FULL credit for the win. GGG has an amateur stellar career to go along with what the eye test shows as A level skills and talent. Floyd should dare to be great and take on the challenge of GGG that he spoke of would be easy. However he is 39 and he knows and feels he is not the same and wont risk it. He beats the brakes off of Garcia in a 12 round ud. nothing special and nothing that will result in a lucrative decision for cbs or whoever does it.
My friend you have a lot more faith in people than I do. I think the combination of the following: 1. Hatred for Floyd 2. GGG although passing the eye test for many, has a tremendous lack of quality opponent. He has never been tested but that is not always a sign to me of a bad fighter. However, I can argue he has never been in the ring with anyone even remotely capable of testing him or even a marginal opponent. This will continue to be a sticking point for me too. Interestingly enough, I did a little research and found this boxer who dominated his competition and won most by knockout, more than 85%. He dominated competition that I think most would regard as being better than GGG's. He was highly regarded, was thought of as the next big thing, and although not quite as hyped as GGG, had a tremendous following. His name......Lucian Bute. Now am I saying GGG is Bute in quality.....no. However, the careers look eerily similar and we all know what happened once he got in the ring with someone competent. No matter how dominating GGG is, until he does it with more than a cadaver in front of him, the possibility (although highly unlikely) that he is a farce remains. 3. The constant critics in the media needing to criticize no matter how great the accomplishment. Especially considering that the math of any situation is always in their favor or in other words the old "hindsight 20/20" cliche will make alot of people mar Floyd's accomplishment. I have stayed in the camp that I would love to see Floyd fight GGG but I don't think there is a whole lot to gain from it outside of the financial and when considering the financial, the money is relative. Almost whomever they put in front of him will prove to be lucrative.


-Domenic :

Thanks for the kind words, Kid Blast. The feeling is mutual; always enjoy reading your stuff. I'm definitely with Amayseng on this one. Golovkin right now is perceived as invincible. There are skeptics that question his opposition, and that's fair. But can he control that? Who's he avoiding at middleweight? There was a reason Cotto wouldn't go near him. There's a reason Alvarez won't go near him. He was scheduled to fight Pirog, an undefeated beast, in 2012, before he was known at all to HBO and the mainstream. Golovkin didn't derail that fight. Look, if Floyd saw a weakness in Golovkin, something exploitable, he'd act. It would be genius. He'd make a mountain of money and his legacy would skyrocket. Win, win. It's not a win that would be buried on the proverbial back page with the box scores, but front page stuff. It'd be his greatest triumph, without a close second. Maybe it would be viewed differently, retrospectively, if Golovkin suddenly turned David Reid in the aftermath of the loss to Floyd, was rubbery during subsequent ring entrances, but man, I don't see it (certainly could be wrong). Leonard saw Hagler against Mugabi, and signed up against the advice of everyone but his visceral sense and instinct. Mortcola speaks expertly on this subject, and has said under several different Hagler/Leonard threads here over the years how Marvin had lost his edge, was drinking, not taking care of himself, had numerous wars that were taxing, etc. He was vulnerable, there for the taking. Golovkin will arrive at that vulnerable state one day, but it ain't yet, in my eyes. The Golovkin of today and the Hagler of 1987 are two very different cats. Golovkin is a supreme wrecking ball at 160. That's why I'm an advocate that he stays there and mops up. He'll meet his match at some point, but it certainly won't be Floyd. If Floyd sincerely believed he'd beat him, as he's on record as saying, the PPV would be scheduled and queued up.


-amayseng :

Thanks for the kind words, Kid Blast. The feeling is mutual; always enjoy reading your stuff. I'm definitely with Amayseng on this one. Golovkin right now is perceived as invincible. There are skeptics that question his opposition, and that's fair. But can he control that? Who's he avoiding at middleweight? There was a reason Cotto wouldn't go near him. There's a reason Alvarez won't go near him. He was scheduled to fight Pirog, an undefeated beast, in 2012, before he was known at all to HBO and the mainstream. Golovkin didn't derail that fight. Look, if Floyd saw a weakness in Golovkin, something exploitable, he'd act. It would be genius. He'd make a mountain of money and his legacy would skyrocket. Win, win. It's not a win that would be buried on the proverbial back page with the box scores, but front page stuff. It'd be his greatest triumph, without a close second. Maybe it would be viewed differently, retrospectively, if Golovkin suddenly turned David Reid in the aftermath of the loss to Floyd, was rubbery during subsequent ring entrances, but man, I don't see it (certainly could be wrong). Leonard saw Hagler against Mugabi, and signed up against the advice of everyone but his visceral sense and instinct. Mortcola speaks expertly on this subject, and has said under several different Hagler/Leonard threads here over the years how Marvin had lost his edge, was drinking, not taking care of himself, had numerous wars that were taxing, etc. He was vulnerable, there for the taking. Golovkin will arrive at that vulnerable state one day, but it ain't yet, in my eyes. The Golovkin of today and the Hagler of 1987 are two very different cats. Golovkin is a supreme wrecking ball at 160. That's why I'm an advocate that he stays there and mops up. He'll meet his match at some point, but it certainly won't be Floyd. If Floyd sincerely believed he'd beat him, as he's on record as saying, the PPV would be scheduled and queued up.
Absolutely correct. Or at least in my opinion why Floyd won't take on GGG the wrecking machine.


-King Beef :

My friend you have a lot more faith in people than I do. I think the combination of the following: 1. Hatred for Floyd 2. GGG although passing the eye test for many, has a tremendous lack of quality opponent. He has never been tested but that is not always a sign to me of a bad fighter. However, I can argue he has never been in the ring with anyone even remotely capable of testing him or even a marginal opponent. This will continue to be a sticking point for me too. Interestingly enough, I did a little research and found this boxer who dominated his competition and won most by knockout, more than 85%. He dominated competition that I think most would regard as being better than GGG's. He was highly regarded, was thought of as the next big thing, and although not quite as hyped as GGG, had a tremendous following. His name......Lucian Bute. Now am I saying GGG is Bute in quality.....no. However, the careers look eerily similar and we all know what happened once he got in the ring with someone competent. No matter how dominating GGG is, until he does it with more than a cadaver in front of him, the possibility (although highly unlikely) that he is a farce remains. 3. The constant critics in the media needing to criticize no matter how great the accomplishment. Especially considering that the math of any situation is always in their favor or in other words the old "hindsight 20/20" cliche will make alot of people mar Floyd's accomplishment. I have stayed in the camp that I would love to see Floyd fight GGG but I don't think there is a whole lot to gain from it outside of the financial and when considering the financial, the money is relative. Almost whomever they put in front of him will prove to be lucrative.
Good post Doc. I definitely think Floyd is fishing right now, if he can get a taker for his asking price AND get a Garcia or whom ever... then its green light go!! I just can't see CBS/SHO ponying up the cash unless they can somehow convince the masses that one of these guys has somehow mastered the 5 finger death punch and has a legitimate chance of beating Mayweather, because that's what its all about in the end. They have to have that section of fans that need to see Mayweather lose, or the PPV/gate numbers are not going to support the payout, Mayweather fans and hardcore boxing fans can't do it. I would like to believe Money already knows GGG does not fall into that risk to reward formula, and Mayweather is not going to meet him at 160 and probably not 154 either (and why should he if you go by the A side / B side scenario) and if he were to beat a anything less than 160 GGG, the excuses of a drained GGG are already locked and loaded. I think he stays retired unless CBS/SHO is crazy enough to give him 9 figures for a so called sparring match, but who knows maybe this time off and good life has dulled Mayweather's blade, and the jackpot punch finally gets past that shoulder roll


-Radam G :

Good post Doc. I definitely think Floyd is fishing right now, if he can get a taker for his asking price AND get a Garcia or whom ever... then its green light go!! I just can't see CBS/SHO ponying up the cash unless they can somehow convince the masses that one of these guys has somehow mastered the 5 finger death punch and has a legitimate chance of beating Mayweather, because that's what its all about in the end. They have to have that section of fans that need to see Mayweather lose, or the PPV/gate numbers are not going to support the payout, Mayweather fans and hardcore boxing fans can't do it. I would like to believe Money already knows GGG does not fall into that risk to reward formula, and Mayweather is not going to meet him at 160 and probably not 154 either (and why should he if you go by the A side / B side scenario) and if he were to beat a anything less than 160 GGG, the excuses of a drained GGG are already locked and loaded. I think he stays retired unless CBS/SHO is crazy enough to give him 9 figures for a so called sparring match, but who knows maybe this time off and good life has dulled Mayweather's blade, and the jackpot punch finally gets past that shoulder roll
Getting 9 figures is just smack-and-sell talk. As I said from the jump -- when he allegedly retired after beating Berto -- he ain't retiring from syet. He is never making that type of money again unless he rematches with you know who. And he is full of syet. And he will be back fighting in Sin City on dat syet to stink out the joint again in less than a year. Holla!