Is Mayweather Fooling Us? Or Just Himself?
Last Friday there was an article posted on abc-cbnnews.com stating that Floyd Mayweather Jr. turned down a $50 million dollar purse guarantee to fight boxing's most popular and pound-for-pound best fighter, Manny Pacquiao. This is according to Pacquiao's adviser Michael Koncz. Since the supposed $50 million dollar offer has exploded in the media and digested by fight fans, it's also been reported that Mayweather has said it'll take a $100 million dollar guarantee for him to get in the ring with Pacquiao. If the $50 million dollar offer is legit, and I'm not sure I believe that it is, it would be more money than Mayweather grossed in his two fights with Oscar De La Hoya (2007) and Shane Mosley (2010) combined.
The money being thrown around at Floyd, again, if one believes the numbers are true, are ridiculous. What's even more ridiculous is Mayweather turning that much money down. How could a guy who's a borderline all time great who after 15 years as a pro and 41 fights and still lacks a career defining win, be so condescending?
Since he's become a public figure there are two things Mayweather loves to brag about - his money and his legacy. Most objective and sophisticated boxing fans know his legacy is hollow and he's more remembered for who he didn't fight than who he did. And if the recent news is true that he really does owe the IRS close to four million dollars, his money is apparently also a myth. If Floyd thinks swapping punches with Pacquiao is overwhelming, his other opponent, the IRS, is a much badder foe. Especially now being that the United States is broke and has hired a plethora of agents to try catch up and settle with all entities who owe Uncle Sam a substantial sum of dead presidents.
One would think Mayweather couldn't get into the ring soon enough with Pacquiao (For the record I would favor Mayweather to defeat Pacquiao if they fight this year). Think about it, if Floyd beat Pacquiao he'd finally have a legitimate claim as to being one of the greats. In other words, people like myself could no longer say who did he beat. Finally, I'd have to acknowledge that Mayweather did beat a great fighter who wasn't dead on arrival the night he fought him. And let's face it, beating one truly great fighter elevates his legacy a lot more than never beating or facing one.
For years Mayweather has conned the public into believing that his wealth rivals Oscar De La Hoya's and his legacy rivals Sugar Ray Leonard's. Which of course both claims if taken seriously are preposterous. And the reason that Floyd can get over and string the public along is because a majority of boxing writers and fans actually believe what fighters and promoters say. This is assuming Floyd really does see both as con jobs, and that he's working on the theory that if you say something long enough, people will fall for it. And this kind of mass hysteria is what drives the purses of fights way up.
But maybe that's not what's happening here. Maybe Floyd really believes the things he tells people and passes along to the media. I can see where an undefeated fighter who's faced decent to good opposition in an era with few all-time greats can start to believe his own press clippings. After all, greatness is largely subjective. But money is money: it is what it is. And if Floyd Mayweather honestly believes that a.) he's been offered $50 million for thirty six minutes of work, and b.) it's not enough money, he's moved from being either con man or someone who's slightly deluded over the line into being 100% certifiably nuts.
However, Mayweather understands the inner and outter workings of professional boxing better than any fighter around today with the exception of Bernard Hopkins. Nobody, I mean nobody is close to Hopkins in that regard, and the fact that he's much less marketable than Mayweather makes his success even that much more astounding.
As for Mayweather, he's mastered the game of stringing the sport along as to his importance and relevance in it. He really hasn't made one misstep yet. He's wealthy and has a sizable percentage of the boxing public convinced that he's an undisputed all-time great despite the overall body of work not being there. But even at that he still must fight and beat Pacquiao. Because if they never do confront each other in the ring, Pacquiao will be the default winner simply due to the fact that everybody who's honest with themself knows it's Floyd's reluctance that's holding the fight up. Pacquiao is acknowledged as the more willing fighter interested in settling who's really the better man and fighter. On top of that Pacquiao's legacy is greater and further cemented than Mayweather's. Pacquiao's career wouldn't take much of a hit if he lost a decision to Mayweather. Whereas Mayweather's legacy would be greatly diminished if he lost to Pacquiao.
As of this writing Pacquiao-Mayweather would be off the chart huge in anticipation and hype. However, the sand is slowly slipping through the hour glass. In less than a month Pacquiao will have officially stopped Shane Mosley and the drumbeat for Pacquiao-Mayweather will be ignited once again. And this is when the fight should finally become a reality. In what can only be described as the ideal setting, Manny and Floyd would meet in November of this year with both of them having defeated Shane Mosley in their last bout.
Floyd should count his blessings and keep his fingers crossed that Mosley doesn't get lucky and upset Pacquiao early next month. Because Mayweather winning by default over Pacquiao won't cut it or enhance his legacy to where he thinks or tries to convince us it ranks in comparison to some of the greatest of the greats in fistic history.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com