Mayweather's Dilemma

06.11.06 - By Yero Moody: As we ponder in the aftermath of Floyd Mayweather Jr's (37-0, 24 KO's) easy victory over tough Carlos Baldomir (43-10-6, 13 KO's), one is left to wonder, what’s next for the highly touted, best pound for pound fighter in the world? Many fans are demanding that Floyd face "tougher" challenges, from the likes of Antonio Margarito, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton or Shane Mosley. Some fans are saying that Mayweather, 29, is doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing considering that fact that he is attempting to become the best fighter ever.

Floyd Mayweather himself has made it known that he wants to fight the best and has pursued fights with Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya. All three have given reasons why they can't or won't fight him right now. Mosley has stated that he's going on vacation and has to get dental procedures done and won't be fighting until next year sometime.

Oscar De La Hoya first stated that he would never fight Floyd Mayweather Jr., unless Floyd, Sr., his trainer, said it was okay. Well, when Mayweather, Sr., emphatically gave the okay by calling Mayweather, Jr. a "monster" and that he would teach De La Hoya the way to beat his son, Oscar decided to pursue a rematch with retired Felix "Tito" Trinidad. Recently, Oscar has stated that negotiations are permanently off between Trinidad's camp and Golden Boy Promotions citing Trinidad's request for $20 million and only wanting to fight him at 160 lbs and not a pound under.

Now, De La Hoya has stated in a recent interview that the only fighter he's interested in fighting is Floyd Mayweather, Jr. or he will retire. He even has date in mind: Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) which is a widely celebrated holiday amongst Latino people across the world. If this plays out as planned, it will set up a mega fight between the two.

Oddly, what has not been written or spoken of, to a large degree, is the fact that Floyd Mayweather has also attempted to set up a much anticipated fight between himself and Ricky Hatton prior to signing a deal to fight Baldomir. Hatton reportedly asked for $13 million effectively pricing himself out of a possible showdown with Mayweather. Many fans are beginning to come to the apparent realization that Hatton wants no part of Mayweather. He moved up to 147 lbs. to face lightly heralded WBA champion Luis Collazo and won a controversial decision to win the title.

During his post fight interview, immediately following the fight when Hatton was asked about facing Mayweather, he stated that he needs a few more fights before "fighting the likes of a Mayweather." His actions followed as well, as he abandoned his title and immediately moved back down to 140 lbs., where he'll face another lightly heralded opponent, Juan Urango. Yet, despite these facts and Mayweather's obvious willingness to fight the best, he's still unappreciated and scorned by many.

Much of the criticism Mayweather is receiving as of late has been due to his refusal to fight WBO champion, Antonio Margarito. Bob Arum, Margarito's promoter, offered Mayweather a very large purse of $8 million dollars to face his fighter. Mayweather declined the offer, stating that he is only interested in facing opponents that are on or close to his level, which he and most boxing experts grade him: A level.

Further scrutiny was drawn because he is quoted as saying “if it don't make dollars, it don't make sense." Given the large purse that was offered by Arum, many fans, boxing insiders and writers alike, began referring to Floyd as "Fraud Mayweather" and stated that he was scared to fight Margarito. Margarito himself began touting himself as "the most feared fighter in boxing." Floyd began facing intense ridicule for his refusal to face Margarito and referred to him as a D level fighter, who beat no one.

Is there merit to his analysis of Margarito being a D level fighter? This writer disagrees somewhat, C+ is more realistic given the current level of fighters within his division. Many of the top fighters have yet to face high caliber opposition and are unproven, such as Joshua Clottey, Carlos Quintana, Miguel Cotto and Paul Williams. However, there is merit to Mayweather's refusal to fight Margarito at this time. If Mayweather were to beat Margarito right now, many boxing insiders, writers and fans would still say Mayweather needs to be tested by fighters like Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley. Obviously, all are fighters, who have proven themselves against the top fighters in the world time and time again.

Margarito, for various reasons, some known and some unknown, has not fought any fighters with names that draw in the fans. His biggest named opponents are Kermit Cintron and Antonio Diaz. While they are good fighters, they are hardly the type of fighters that garner hype. Margarito's cause is also hurt by the fact that he lost to another C level fighter, Daniel Santos. While the fight was stopped in the 10th round due to an accidental head butt, Margarito was losing on two of the judges’ scorecards thus losing the fight. The decision was viewed as controversial in the eyes of some and a rematch has yet to be talked of.

In order for Margarito to truly be taken as anything more than another fighter trying to get a huge payday against a big time fighter, he is going to have to step up and fight higher level competition. He hurt his cause further by refusing to face Paul Williams, his mandatory challenger and instead chose to face lower ranked, Joshua Clottey, whose only claim to fame is a controversial loss to Carlos Baldomir. Fighters who really want to prove themselves and establish a meaningful legacy seek rematches against those whom they have either beaten in a controversial manner or have lost to.

When Mayweather won a controversial decision over Castillo, he gave him a well deserved rematch and proved who the better fighter was. When De La Hoya won a controversial fight against the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez, he gave him a rematch and when he lost to Mosley and Trinidad, he sought rematches as well. When Mosley lost to Vernon Forrest and Winky Wright, he sought rematches. Why hasn't Margarito sought a rematch against Santos? If Margarito can beat Clottey, and faces his mandatory challenger Paul Williams and wins, then no one will be able to deny him his just due. Until then, talk is cheap and hype doesn't cut it.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr., a truly gifted athlete with amazing offensive skills and equally amazing defensive skills and regarded by most as the best pound for pound fighter in the world and perhaps this era. He has the ability to hit and not be hit, exhibiting the ultimate mastery of the "sweet science." Yet, he is still not adorned by the mainstream media and fans, such as De La Hoya is. His brash demeanor and flashy seeming ways have brought intense criticism from fans and other fighters. He seems to say the wrong things too often and shows little respect, if any, to those that have paved the way in the sport.

Only time will tell if he will be able to establish a truly meaningful and highly regarded legacy by beating the best fighters. He cannot force the best fighters to fight him and beating average fighters or slightly above average fighters adds little to his legacy. Thus, we have Mayweather's dilemna.

Article posted on 07.11.2006

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