In Defense of “Money” Mayweather Part II: Eyes On The Prize
02.04.08 - Michael Herron (M.I.C.): Since writing “In Defense Of “Money” Mayweather: A True Prizefighter,” many boxing fans have sent emails questioning how as a writer and a boxing fan could I support the antics of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. I decided to create a response that encompasses several arguments and point-of-views posed by readers.
Article posted on 03.04.2008
First of all, thanks for reading and voicing your opinion. Also, I appreciate the politeness by which many of you have done so. My article was written first and foremost, not as a means to give Mayweather a free pass, but to counter some of the harsh opinions, statements, and articles written about him lately. What many sports fans and boxing enthusiasts don't realize is that the time for “prizefighters” to make big money is short. Mayweather, right now, is at the apex of his career. This is his time to maximize his popularity and supplement his earnings potential.
As a warrior in an unforgiving sport, Mayweather may not always have the opportunities to do Wrestlemania, Dancing With The Stars, or any future celebrity events. In boxing, and professional sports in general, you have to act while you can and take advantage while you are hot. Injuries, accidents, negative press, like dogfighting for instance, or any circumstances causing a loss of marketability, could offset these opportunities very quickly. In layman's terms, its called going from hero to zero. Take a look at Prince Naseem Hamed and the rise and fall of his career in record time. Or Mike Tyson's crash and burn at the hands of gorgeous women and bad financial decisions. Even boxing great Joe Louis was chewed up and spit out once the gloves came off. As an active fighter, Mayweather could of easily missed out on proposed rematches with De La Hoya and Hatton if he didn't accept them accordingly. Boxing fans must realize that every fighter wants to fight De La Hoya and Hatton. It means a major payday which is clearly a goal for every prizefighter; even modest contenders will often accept a fight "only if the money is right."
It's been stated by many critics that Floyd is all about money and has tarnished the sport. Take some time to consider, however, how a fighter like Juan Manuel Marquez could end up fighting and losing a title shot in Indonesia for 31,000 dollars. You have to be smart as a prizefighter, you can't just accept fights because promoters, sanctioning bodies, networks, or even pushy fans want you to. Too many fighters have become slaves and puppets to the system. The big promotion companies are well known to have taken advantage of many fighters throughout the years. How much bad press has Don King, Bob Arum, and even the upstart Golden Boy Promotions received when it comes to actually paying their fighters and treating them with respect? Every week we hear about another fighter leaving their promoter, or buying out their contract, or being dropped from a network. Mayweather long ago freed himself from the corruption when he rejected HBO's offer as a slave contract and subsequently bought out his contract with Top Rank promotions. As a result, he has flourished under his own guidance; yet unjustly criticized for being successful.
When you look pass the money, Mayweather and even the former P4P king Roy Jones are actually truer to pure boxing than most big names in the sport. These two fighters are actually marketed for their skill set, not their personalities. De La Hoya on the other hand, sells his Pay-Per-Views based on personality and charm alone, not boxing ability. Is this why we watch boxing, to see personalities joust or skills clash? When you pay to see Floyd, the expectation is that you will see the best skills in boxing. When you pay to see Oscar, there are no expectations, he could win or lose with no penalty. If Mayweather or Jones lose a fight, they lose everything. They are burdened with having to be perfect. The repercussions of Jones' losses to Tarver and Johnson is the perfect example of why Mayweather knows he can't lose. If he were to be defeated, proponents and detractors in this “unforgiving sport” would attempt to destroy everything he has fought for.
As far as Mayweather remaining a hungry fighter, it is all downhill once you've made it to the top. Beating Miguel Cotto or any other welterweight is not going to get him higher or make him a bigger star. Maybe in the eyes of die-hard fans it will, but as far as casual fans are concerned, they hardly know who the welterweight contenders are; much less view them as a threat. So everything at this point for Mayweather is just extra whip cream with cherries on top. He could fight Cotto, but is it necessary? What further accolades can he win? He has attained every honor already: recognition as the best fighter pound-for-pound, titles in five weight classes, massive fame and fortune, and most importantly, he's threatening to replace Oscar De La Hoya as the biggest name in boxing. It can be argued that he already has. Furthermore, as it stands, Mayweather can retire today and make his case as one of the greatest fighters of all-time.
Despite his accomplishments however, Mayweather is still likely to fight Cotto; but as he stated on ESPN's Friday Night Fights, it will happen when he is ready, not when impatient fans and media critics are ready. Those who criticize Mayweather should realize that Top Rank/Bob Arum has made him no real offer to fight Cotto; just a bunch of cheap talk. They are in no hurry to see Cotto lose his 0.At this time, they are more concerned with enhancing Cotto's record and increasing his popularity and marketability. When the time does come expect Mayweather to demand a most attractive offer; and unless they deliver it he will continue to accept fights such as De La Hoya and Hatton's multi-million dollar rematches - wouldn't you?
Ultimately, what these rematches will do is give the sport great exposure. Mayweather's ability to stay in the limelight will fuel another great promotion. Conceptually, the rematch with De La Hoya is about more than just money. This fight carries symbolic meaning for both combatants. Mayweather is anxious for the world to see the final defeat and overthrow of Oscar De La Hoya. With his ascending popularity and rising marketability, “Money” Mayweather is poised to supplant Oscar as the biggest name and most recognizable face in boxing. Soon, if you want to make the big money, you'll have to come see Floyd. If you want to prove your the best, you'll have to come see Floyd. If you want to know the current state of prizefighting, you'll have to start with Floyd. This is Mayweather's true ambition. These are his real goals. This is why his eyes are on the prize.
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