Floyd Mayweather: His Own Worst Enemy

17.11.05 - By Gabriel DeCrease: There is little doubt that Floyd Mayweather sits alone on the pound-for-pound throne. He is fast as a sprinting jaguar and pounces on his prey with the same precise deadliness. He has all the energy of a zealous first-year pro and the ring savvy of a well-worn veteran.

Mayweather is blessed with more raw athletic ability than any other fighter in the game, and his continuously superb conditioning only amplifies his natural edge. His style, though structured and technical, is action-oriented. A list of fighters who could make similar boasts would be a short and very exclusive one populated by legends like Muhammad Ali, Ray Robinson, Willie Pep, Carlos Monzon, and Ray Leonard.

Yet, somehow Pretty Boy Floyd has not become a legend in his own time, or a big draw among fans of the sweet science. The worldwide boxing community acknowledges Mayweather’s dominance, but many fans pathologically root against him, hoping a courageous opponent—as was the case with big-hearted brawler Arturo Gatti—will overcome Floyd’s obvious advantages and knock him through the ropes.

Floyd was brilliant and vicious in his early blowout of Angel Manfredy. He was impossibly exacting in his annihilation of rough-and-ready Emmanuel Augustus in which Mayweather’s fists were like laser guided missiles locked onto Augustus’ face and firing nonstop. And most recently, he shut-out and shut-down blood-and-guts legend Arturo Gatti inside six rounds.

So why is it that the prize fighter who seems to have the proverbial keys to the castle dangling from his many title belts met with such disdain?

The first and most obvious answer is that Mayweather has a bad attitude. He is often dismissive, arrogant, irritable, and sardonic. This tactic is all-too-effective in bullying and bamboozling people within the industry. He is convinced of his own superiority, and it is in this way that he maintains a bizarre sort of de facto hegemony over promoters, fighting peers, and media personalities. Mayweather may be one of the few Calvanists ever to lace up a pair of gloves. In an interview given before his last fight, Floyd said of his opponent, “I don’t worry about what he’s got. I can outbox this guy, outslug this guy. I’ve been world champion for so many years. Nobody can beat me. There is no way to beat me.” This is a classic Mayweather sound bite, and, in the end, he was right. The problem is, of course, that the public does not buy his line of self-satisfying rhetoric in the same way.

Yes, Mayweather is undefeated, and has turned in some truly masterful performances on the championship level. But he brags so excessively that his achievements are effectively diminished. In another interview, Mayweather claimed, “I look at the newspapers and they say Castillo and Corrales fight and they don’t want a rematch. Then they say that these guys have so much heart. I’ll show you heart, I’m willing to fight anybody and can make it happen.” Sadly, Mayweather had interpreted the post-fight comment by trainer Joe Goosen that it would be sadistic to stage a return as an indication that the fighters themselves did not crave a rematch. In fact, as anyone within a few light-years of the fight game knows, both fighters immediately signed on for, and subsequently, fought a controversial, if not brutal, rematch only months after the first fight. Floyd, undoubtedly felt comfortable making these denigrating remarks about the two brave warriors and their fistic eruption because he had beaten both in past fights. But again, Floyd was given a questionable decision in his first fight with Jose Luis Castillo. This was a fight in which Castillo out-landed Mayweather by a distinct margin. And while he won the return by a more comfortable margin, and routed Diego Corrales at a tumultuous low-point in Chico’s career, Mayweather does little to acknowledge the fact that he once nearly lost to Castillo when he brags about sweeping him in their pair of fights. Mayweather unfortunately buys his own clever soft sell.

Another detriment to Floyd’s public image came in the form of felony assault charges levied against him after an incident in which, according to an initial complaint, Mayweather struck the mother of three of his four children several times after a lengthy and heated verbal disagreement. She later recanted, and withdrew her complaint. However, Mayweather was nonetheless ordered to trial. This sort of sordid ordeal is never good for a fighter’s image. Professional boxers, especially world champions are seen as deadly and powerful warriors, so it is doubly appalling to imagine them assaulting an unsuspecting and seemingly helpless loved one. It is almost irrelevant whether or not the charges are dropped.

Every fighter who has entered the ring after a domestic abuse scandal has taken a hit to their marketability and mainstream appeal. Mike Tyson was all-but-ruined after the controversial rape and battery case that ended with his conviction and incarceration. A similar situation temporarily paralyzed the careers of Ricardo Mayorga and Diego Corrales. But those three men had never sold themselves as handsome ambassadors of class and good behavior. In fact, they were sold on almost opposite grounds. Conversely, Pretty Boy Floyd, the former Olympian, is haunted by the expectation that he is a nice, neighborly type. This may not be the case. But the man himself does little to dispel possible myths about his probity. Mayweather spoke publicly after his dubious acquittal on the assault charges by saying, “What is the part that [the public doesn’t] know? I’m a family man. I have a strong belief and I am really blessed from God. So that’s why I feel that I’m humble. We see battered women and we see battered children and on every holiday we try to give something back. We have a big fight coming up and we give away free turkeys and are always giving something back to the community.” Retreating to the opposite extreme did not wash, but he kept that act up for some time, and ultimately was dogged by nasty comments ever since. A man would be battered and bloody who took a jab for every time a boxing commentator or journalist made a crass joke about Floyd using women as punching bags or training by sparring with the mothers of his children.

Floyd Mayweather will probably never be a national hero, and that is not to see he is any more morally bankrupt than a lot of fighters who have achieved iconic status in their native countries. Julio Cesar Chavez would probably win if he ran against Vincente Fox in the next Mexican presidential race. And Chavez has long been known as a pathological womanizer and heavy drinker. In fact, The Showtime Network reported that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. had ultimately petitioned his father to stop getting belligerently drunk at the young fighters matches because it has become such an embarrassment. But Senior remains an untouchable hero of godlike status in Mexico. Carlos Monzon was, by all accounts, an abusive scoundrel outside the ring whose unpredictable outbursts of violence against his wife and many mistresses were well known in Argentina. However, he was a legend among his people, and remained one even after he was convicted of murdering the mother of his son.

That kind of cult-like, indomitable fan loyalty does not seem to be in the cards for Floyd Mayweather. He talks a game that he may never be able to play. And accordingly, his only recourse is to take big fights, one after another, and continuously assert his dominance, if he can, or at least test himself more sternly. The sham that he is about to engage in against a threadbare, battleworn Sharmba Mitchell does not fall in line with what I am suggesting. If Floyd continues his campaign at welterweight he needs to fight Zab Judah or meet the controversially bulked up Jose Luis Castillo for a fight at 147-pounds. . If he moves up to junior middleweight he should first attempt to bait Winky Wright back into the 154-pound division with the promise of a big-payday, or seek a battle with the crafty, tough-as-nails—and shockingly fresh-looking—Roman Karmazin. If he moves back down to junior welterweight it should only be to tangle with The Hitman, that is, assuming Hatton gets by upset artist Carlos Maussa.

Mayweather has proven that idle hands are, in fact, the devil’s workshop. When inactive Floyd’s trash talk is more frequent and less palatable, and he can’t seem to stay out of trouble. The Pretty Boy is at a crucial juncture in his career. And no matter what his press team says about his place on the all-time totem pole, if he doesn’t cement his legacy with meaningful matches now, he will be remembered more for his missed opportunities than his impressive reigns as a world champion.

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Article posted on 17.11.2005

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