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The amazing Mr. Mayweather


By Allan Cerf

Of the all the facts surrounding Money Mayweather- some interesting, many boring, the fact that a lower-weight defensive specialist has even casual fans touting his record is astonishing.  Mayweather deserves as much credit as anyone.  He’s tapped into the vibe of the new Millennium in all particulars: “Street Cred,” suspicious, bragging, skeptical. 


Other qualities in his career perfectly match the excesses of the online world: unsubstantiated, manipulated, impossible to quantify.  Floyd is a King of Spin even as he warned his army of congratulators last week, ’Believe only half of what you hear and none of what you see.’  


But- a lower-weight defensive boxer!  A man whose fights are often sans high drama, is singled out by casual fans of boxing as an all-time great.  He, Floyd doesn’t have to say anything- his army of supporters does it for him: “49-0,” they say.  “The GOAT.”  “Better than Ali.” 


His fans even brag about his money and incredible lifestyle- money, cars, women homes that they, the supporters, will never enjoy.  “Floyd ain’t breakin’ off for you,” as wise people have pointed out but the fans don’t get it.  Ask rappers who have blown up and they will tell you that the hood could not have been as depicted in videos or everyone would be dead.  Compton would look like Bosnia in the 90’s – where the devastation was real.  Top rappers make conservative investments, period.  They buy sensible if lavish, homes and send their kids to the best schools. 


They become good neighbors.  Ditto Floyd – though his mansion may have no near-neighbors.  Floyd and Co. exploited America’s love of mythical Thug Life to a degree that can only amaze you or have you worried about everything.


Casual fans of boxing by definition, barely understand the sport.  In the 80’s for example, casual fans could see Tyson was crushing people and that he was fast and powerful in an unprecedented way.  Muhammad Ali in the 60’s was a boxer-puncher who moved in ways never before seen.  The public fascination for Tyson and Ali is understandable and in their time on the scene, there was no Internet – no billion channels of gratification.  Add also that in their day – the heavyweight crown was the most prestigious in all sports.  But- a lower-weight defensive boxer!  Are you FF’in’ kidding me?


Floyd’s accomplishments started normally enough – a hugely talented 90’s young guy, great amateur standing, hosed at the Olympics.  Curiously, even 90’s interviews with Floyd are much more like talking to a 2017 millennial: while not rude, the 90’s Floyd was utterly self-sufficient, blandly states the obvious and would really like to be somewhere else.  In his early incarnation as Pretty Boy Floyd, armed with incredible tools and ring education, he marched through the lower weight classes with ease.   Even then however, he sought to un-level, when possible, the playing field. 


Some say the Olympic hosing in part made him this way.  Whatever it was- if he could get Chico Corrales to starve himself right out of contention to earn a payday he’d do it.  Floyd is NOT undefeated (though quite close) except on paper.  He clearly lost his first fight with Chavez.  He may well have been injured coming in.  But – the judges had their marching orders.  And if it’s on paper – well, history is written by the victors.


At the same time, Floyd surrounded himself with people who gave him the right things to say, some shocking: that his HBO agreement through Arum was a “slave contract” for example.  Whether it was or not, saying it kept him in the limelight.  Select actions – failing to pay a jeweler on time, kicking his father out of his home, the flaunting of cash. Whether papering strippers with bills, starting a violent riot among sportswriters with free wristwatches, or lecturing with real props what a million dollars really looks like, enough on-lookers took notice.  He kept winning.  He kept talking.  He knocked a lot of people out, until he began not to.  His peeps got him to stop the terrible habit of calling his opponents C-level fighters.  Because why should we pay to see a C grade fighter against an A? 


Say what you will, but to really change is usually impossible- and Mayweather did.  After the Arturo Gatti beat-down Floyd began referring to all opponents, all challenges in the ring, as difficult and dangerous.  This self-control is remarkable and why his haters are wrong – why he will not end up with troubles.

Mayweather’s detractors overlook his good deeds and under-report his sometime reasonableness.  Telling a corner man to absolutely switch sides because the enemy camp paid more, delivering turkeys to the Vegas needy – corny – but not to the needy who are grateful.  Surprisingly to some, taking extended time with fans.  Regarding his domestic charges, while it’s not appropriate to comment, it is worth mentioning that Mayweather staunchly denies them.


In the ring, while still a Pretty Boy, his often excellent fights were even-then being described as boring.  His slow dismantling of Zab Judah is a case in point: He absorbed some real hell, huge blows, then like a detective, soon figured things out.  His body shots had Judah cursing and collapsing until Zab resorted to a low blow to avoid being knocked out. 


When Floyd and Leonard Ellerbe decided to switch personas- from Pretty Boy to ‘Money,’ the criticism as well as praise, hit fever pitch.  Then-formidable Antonio Margarito appeared to literally scare Floyd stiff, but he recovered quickly to give the Mexican tips on career-development.  Reasons were found to avoid fighting gigantic Paul Williams and other top challengers in favor of fights that seemed competitive on paper: Ricky Hatton (too small) De La Hoya, too old and then Oscar’s old foe, Mosely – too old.  Vernon Forest never entered the conversation.  Pacquiao was made to wait – and wait.



Have I mentioned that a lower-weight defensive boxer is singled out by casual fans of boxing as an all-time great and that’s just nuts?  Oh, yeah.  I did.

Mayweather’s mastery of the industry and determined climb to become a household name is remarkable – even as it disturbs some.  Let’s be clear about the sport we love: boxing is an activity, to paraphrase Ring Magazine’s Doug Fischer, which would, in any other context be immediately halted.  Forget the blows – I think humans enjoy fistfights.  Let’s look at the uh, ‘issues’ with boxing to put it mildly and Floyd’s control of them:


Referees- It’s the Richard Steele model.  Some refs start out like Steele as good-to-great referees.  Incidents occur (Chavez-Taylor) and the incidents become more frequent.  Pretty soon it’s evident that, like smuggling, strings are controlling referees.  This control applied to Mayweather’s fights mean his blatantly illegal tenderizing of opponents with forearms and elbows is tolerated.  They are so egregious at times that referees under the control of his promotion will warn him.  Yet, never a point deducted.


Boxing judges are often folks with day jobs, picked by commissions and who receive tickets to give to relatives.  Some have never judged a fight before!  Remember Eugenia Williams?  While Floyd is usually far in front of his opponents, the same old suspect judges often have him ahead by margins out of line with what other top fighters receive in fights that went 12. I’m personally against the adage “find rounds to give a losing fighter.” In Floyd’s case his special pleading works.  He often gets judges who find no charity rounds to give to opponents. 


Drug-testing- The use of PED’s is out of control across all sports but in boxing – any advantage given to the heaviest punchers in the world may someday facilitate deaths.  I interviewed one of the world’s experts on PEDS in 2009 but found my long interview, initially received with great interested, shelved.  A few years later a well-known boxing commentator mysteriously called me and gave me the address of a Bay Area Lab where reformed PED’s purveyors turned ‘angels’ made supplements.  Why don’t I go out to the lab, this sportswriter suggested and snoop around?


Senator McCain with a keen and at one time, official, interest in boxing, stated on air that Mosely-De La Hoya was a bad decision and in the subsequent days it was revealed that Mosley’s post-fight urine analysis was of interest, yet that sample went missing before the Fed’s could obtain it.   I have no evidence that Mayweather dopes and it’s not commonly put about.  However, VADA is the best such organization, overwhelmingly and Floyd is not a VADA fighter


Commissions – If the Nevada Athletic Commission is the best, my God – what is the worst?  A murderer is sanctioned to box.   Needy fighters have eye injuries so serious that perhaps they should be denied a driving license, much less one to box?  Just find another commission – one will accommodate you.   Floyd has milked commissions for years to give himself every conceivable advantage such that, combined with brilliant match-making, we find him fighting all-time greats just beyond their prime.   Floyd wants to protect his health and take 20 months off a couple of times?  No problem.  Retire.  The commissions kept his place at the front of the line open until his return.


Before I sign off on this piece and a promoter signs off on another 100 million dollar check which Floyd will earn by pummeling McGregor, let’s give him his boxing due.  He’s probably the best fighter of his generation and in my view, top 20-25 all time, though not higher.   His training, outside Britain’s commandoes, is literally the most tortuous I’ve ever seen and it never ends.  He deserves credit.  No one does in fact, work harder.  The myth is that all his fights are boring with no action, but vs. Alvarez for instance, he landed a hell of a lot of blows Show Time ignored and exhibited extreme ring generalship.  His command in that bout could – and reportedly did, please the U.S. Marines.  And it was far from dull.


You hear some call Floyd Mayweather stupid or ignorant, but he’s neither.  Sure he’s had luck and genetics but no other athlete, Ali excepted – and it’s a close exception – has so keenly understood the day and age.  He understands social media and as he says, knows what to say.  He also knows, like The Beatles, when to leave the limelight, when to return. 


For Christ sake, the man has made casual fans, who should rightfully only care about knock out artists or society-changers like Ali, cheer on a lower-weight defensive specialist.  And celebrate his riches – and buy duds like the Pacquiao disaster, and perhaps the McGregor disaster.

With a clear $400 million he’s not close to the real big money but says he’ll quit gambling and buy a basketball team.  I wouldn’t bet against that.  He may then say he wants Bill Gates size money and will do what it takes.  Realizing that goal will be boorish, clinically focused and for Floyd Joy Sinclair Mayweather, probably successful.  Don’t bet against him.


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