The Conversational Third Rail: Floyd Mayweather

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    Mellody Hobson spoken recently as a TED fellow about “the conversational third rail”. Hobson’s context was in terms of racial bravery, but we can shift the context easily for boxing. Floyd Mayweather, a polarizing figure that has no middle ground, loved or hated, is slowly becoming the conversational third rail for boxing. Fans of Mayweather defend to a fault, whereas detractors feel he is incredibly overrated and yell scornful words at him every chance possible. This is the opposite of say a Shawn Porter, who is rather natural and has no ill-will per say from the boxing community as a whole, Mayweather has created a career and persona based around people having an opinion about him one way or another. Like the Dodge Ram commercial slogan, Floyd Mayweather wants your opinion him to be “never neutral”.

    On Saturday night, Mayweather seemingly was in for an easy most thought. Marcos Maidana is slow, plodding and lacks a sixth of the skill Mayweather has. What happened was a combination of factors namely Maidana granting such little respect for Floyd making it a dogfight early. Maidana in essence fought, clawed and attempted to knee Mayweather literally to victory, coming up just a bit short in the final two rounds of the fight. On my scorecard the bigger question the fight leaves is; Maidana was essentially a journeyman for a portion of career and has seen a resurrection under trainer Robert Garcia, but is Mayweather also showing signs of aging?

    Last time, Mayweather took this much punishment it was in the Miguel Cotto fight which was quickly brushed off by the fact that Mayweather looked much improved in his subsequent fight against Robert Guerrero. The one major change in camp was Floyd Mayweather Sr. returning to work with his son as 2013 saw two of Mayweather’s most dominant victories. Mayweather started slow and flat footed often whining and complaining to the ref about anything he felt he could get changed. Let’s not get it confused Maidana was dirty, but the urgency for change was something so foreign to a Mayweather fight.

    Heading into the middle rounds, Mayweather turned to his corner and simply said “I am losing this fight!”. An honest reflection, unlike the Mayweather we have come to expect. Mayweather looked vulnerable much more like the child from the CBS documentary than the man, who adorn the Mexican flag fighting Oscar De La Hoya. It was a harsh reality seeing someone who has been at the top of his sport for so long, look so human and even worse mortified that things were not going his way. Mayweather just looked confused and bothered.

    On the other hand, Maidana seemed to cherish the moment as Robert Garcia shouted “…get dirtier if you have to.” Maidana was doing what Jose Luis Castillo did in 2002, but better. It was as if Maidana had a cheat code, a Game Genie of sorts, in which his form was so awkward it threw Mayweather off due to the fact that most people don’t create such looping punches. Maidana was there to win and he was not trying to draw a picture and make it look cute in victory.

    What failed Maidana was that Floyd made adjustments in the middle rounds finally looking as though he was settled in around the seventh round. Whereas Maidana appeared fatigued a bit and frustrated that Mayweather was still there. It was inactivity that killed Maidana in the second half of the fight as Mayweather’s ability to use accurate strikes and limit moments on the ropes created a fight favor his style. Still with a fight this close, many will see it the other way and with Mayweather having limited options doesn’t this fight have to happen again?

    A Maidana rematch would more than likely break a million pay-per-view buys in the fall while I suspect this PPV may have slightly under-performance against expectations, but do slightly better than the Robert Guerrero fight in terms of butyrate. The one thing we know is that since Showtime invested so much money in “the Mayweather business” they are more than willing to make him take a fight for profitable gain that in the past many would not of expected i.e. “the Canelo fight” from last year. It seems by default the Maidana fight has to be next bout since Amir Khan will probably not be able to register those type of buy rates and has stated that due Ramadan would not take the fight against Mayweather if it occurs in September. With Khan not necessarily bring in more buys outside of the standard Mexican Independence Day crowd, it simply seems logical that Mayweather will continue to follow his blueprint of when he fights.

    Some have suggested Shawn Porter could be next, but it feels like he is one big win a way from a Mayweather fight as a good portion of fans still could not identify Porter out of a line up of fighters. Keith Thurman another top prospect still has yet to face a top 10 guy in the welterweight division and putting him in with Mayweather right away seems a bit pre-mature. Some have stated that they believe the Mayweather archetype for the next three contracted Showtime fights that would finish up his deal will go as follows: Marcos Maidana, Amir Khan and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, though a lot can change in a year and a half. The big thing is who gets the undercard shot spot on the September Mayweather card since those who are in the welterweight division and fight around the same time as Mayweather have a greater chance of landing the spot.

    On top of all of this, we have Richard Schaefer potentially leaving Golden Boy Promotions for what we can only be assumed would be to work with Al Haymon in some capacity. Rumors of some Al Haymon managed fighters being on a fight to fight basis with Golden Boy after head honcho Oscar De La Hoya entered rehab for the second time this past September only furthers speculation. If that happens, Mayweather’s pool of options could be reduced dramatically pending contract structures and the willingness for those involved to co-exist.

    In the post-fight press conference Mayweather who appeared with a cut by his eye refused to say fighters by name, avoiding all talk of Amir Khan and constantly belittling Maidana. “I’ll give you rematch if you promise not to punch me in the dick.” Mayweather said to Maidana on the podium. A Mayweather press conference is typically a joyous affair with people laughing and giggle, but it was a somber as funeral on this occasion. Mayweather was not in the mood for questions, he wanted people to listen and if you opposed his views you were either from Argentina or part of the Robert Garcia camp. To be fair, some of those he stared that sentiment about were in fact just that. Mayweather tugged on his cap that read “TBE”, which stands for “The Best Ever” as he looked annoyed by each question about the fight.

    The thing is Mayweather fought maybe his best fight ever, he faced grit head on and willed himself to a win yet we remember his “poor winner” antics. Just as Mayweather was beginning to become beloved mainly due to how hatable Adrien Broner is, he took this blemish. Mayweather needs the re-match even though I believe he won the first bout simply, because his legacy is being written already as a ducker. The Pacquiao fight will never happen, neither will the Sergio Martinez bout at a catchweight. Mayweather needs big fights to be remember as a beloved figure as opposed to someone who created an image, persona and fought conveniently for the most profit margin. For all the skills Mayweather has it will be simply overlooked if people just flat out don’t like the way his career ended.