Boxing Notebook: Special Edition...Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather's "Tuneup Lottery"
March 22, 2009 - by Suge Green: As the rumors increase in frequency, and in the reputability of the respective sources reporting them, many have already accepted that Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather is returning to the boxing ring later this year. While it isn't exactly confirmed yet, many fans and pundits of the sport alike have began to speculate as to who Floyd's next opponent might be. Though it's pretty much a given that he will be looking to reaffirm his pound for pound ranking...specifically it is thought that he desires either a bout with the winner of Pacquiao-Hatton scheduled for later this year, or possibly a contest versus Juan Manuel Marquez in the not too distant future. However on his way there, it is all but a given that he will be fighting the traditional "tuneup" fight first..
Article posted on 22.03.2009
While it may be tempting to look to those parked atop the mountain of boxing's world rankings for Floyd's eventual target (and no doubt more exciting for the casual fan, as chants of "Pacquiao & Hatton" echo in the background), it is much more difficult a task to predict who the fighter oftentimes called "the opponent," might be. Three points of interest in the discussion amongst the diehards about the still young Mayweather Jr.'s return as he looks to reclaim his position of dominance in the squared circle, and his selection of a first adversary are...that he must be a combination of respectable, somewhat marketable, and unfortunately for boxing fans...not a very serious threat.
As Floyd readies himself for a return which is speculated to happen this summer, the boxing world will look for a certain level of respectability in the opposition he is pitted against. After all, "Money May" was the sports number 1 fighter at the time of his departure, he can't expect the public to accept a fight against someone which would prove absolutely nothing. A fight between Mayweather and one without legitimate claims to a top 10 or 20 position should be considered a crime. A fighter of Floyd's caliber can cause serious harm to fighters who aren't of a certain class. We've all seen what happens when there is a large gulf in class in a fight, when someone in possession of Floyd's talent is painfully matched against a hopelessly outclassed opponent.
In addition, whoever wins the "tuneup lotto" will have to be able to draw, or if not at least be able to somehow catch the public's imagination. While happy to engage in the speculation surrounding Floyd's return, I'm not entirely sold on the traditional tuneup occurring in his case. Jr. hasn't stepped between the ropes for a prizefight since December of '07, if he does return sometime between June and August of '09, that's only 18-20 months of inactivity. With rumors of Floyd resuming his late night boxing training circulating, it is thought that he should be in top form around that time, whether he fights an "opponent" or an opponent...or a victim vs. a challenger, if preferred. With the amount of money that Floyd is expected to be after, it would be a difficult proposition for the pound for pound star to come out of his self imposed exile against his words for less than super-fight money. If he indeed does decide to enter the arena again before facing the biggest challenge he can find, he will either have to swallow the tough fact that he's getting much less than he's likely to desire financially...or he will have to come as close as he can to earning super fight money without actually fighting in one. It's easily illustrated the difficulty faced in creating a financially impressive tune up event. One way to offset some of the potential issues is to select an opponent that has legit claims to a coveted position or title, or facing one who is already in possession of the public's heart strings. Is there anyone hanging around 147lbs. that the public can get excited about Floyd facing, who is outside of the very pinnacle of the division...???
It appears at least somewhat possible that the boxing world can get excited about a future all time great facing less than the very best, but the largest obstacle to inspiring the boxing world with a performance against a tuneup opponent, no matter how worthy the opposition may be presented as, is the fact that the entire point of facing a tuneup type opponent is the beatability factor. Nobody is really going to be in shock if Floyd faces opposition which he is superior to, but he will probably have to give up something in at least one department. Whether it be a harder hitting fighter, a super active fighter, a fighter who doesn't get knocked down, etc...or whatever other compensating factors may be presented in order to make the bout more viable, and to make the playing field appear all the more level... Floyd would be foolish to face one who he has every conceivable advantage against. Really though, most consider Floyd to be in possession of the talent needed to beat all opposition in his weight range, so the beatability is something boxing fans should have already learned to deal with in regards to the undefeated former champion.
In any case, a year and a half layoff is not an unheard of length of time for a fighter to return to glory from, and Mayweather's chances of a successful return look very good. In closing, as the speculation continues to increase, I'll throw my choice in the hat right now for Pretty Boy Floyd's Tuneup Lottery...Luis Collazo.
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