Franchise Thoughts: Floyd Mayweather Jr. and His Many Contradictions, Plus More

Last March, as Floyd Mayweather Jr. was getting set for his starring role in the WWE's WrestleMania 24, the wrestling site I write for wanted someone to do a piece explaining to non-boxing fans why having Money participate was a big deal.

To give my article more credibility, I sought out some help from two respected boxing journalists: Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports and Dougie Fischer, then of MaxBoxing and now with ringtv.com. I appreciated their perspective on what made Floyd a great fighter, but I was even more interested in their insights into his character.

Their opinions couldn't have been more different. Iole felt Mayweather was basically a good guy who played the villain to help hype his fights. Fischer said just the opposite, calling Floyd an egomaniac (among other things) who could only hide it for brief periods before his true nature came to the forefront.

In the 14 months since, we've seen Mayweather retire and announce his return to the sport. And we're no closer to really figuring him out than we were before.

Is he a stand-up guy who says things to get a rise out of people because it's good for business? Or is he a jerk who occasionally can play nice with others for the same reason?

It might be easier to decipher the truth if Mayweather ever stuck to his guns for more than a few days at a time, but he's been busy churning out contradictory statements since he's returned to the sport.

As soon as he announced he was back, Floyd said all the right things about wanting to fight the best opponents he could face. BoxingScene.com even reported that he gave a hit list of targets to Golden Boy that included the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and Victor Ortiz. An impressive list, to be sure.

Yet Mayweather has already made comments that suggest he has little intention of following such an ambitious schedule. He scoffed at the idea of facing Mosley in his recent interview with ESPN's Brian Kenny, stating that Sugar Shane already had five losses and wasn't a pay-per-view draw.

He left himself a little wiggle room to avoid facing Pacquiao down the road by bringing up his differences with Bob Arum. Oh yeah, Cotto is promoted by Arum too, so if that fight never gets made, Money doesn't even need to think up a new excuse.

Unlike many observers, I actually believe that Floyd wants to fight "all the top guys." It's just that he has his own personal definition of who those guys are, and that that definition, like most things Mayweather, is subject to change.

And on and on it goes. Mayweather wants full credit for defeating Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton but sees nothing impressive about Pac-Man doing the same thing. He praises Larry Merchant after finally winning over boxing's most famous curmudgeon but chides Kenny for not knowing anything because he "never laced up the gloves."

Floyd flaunts his dough but is rumored to be coming out of retirement due to tax problems. His self-centered image doesn't jibe with stories of him quietly giving back to his community.

Here's what I know: Mayweather is an awesome boxer, someone I count (along with Pacquiao and Bernard Hopkins) as no worse than top three pound-for-pound over the last decade or so.

He's also grown increasingly savvy about how to sell himself. Once he figured out that his talent wasn't always going to speak for itself, he went all-in to become a star.

Thanks to his constant stream of contrary statements, anything else I think I know about Floyd is just guesswork. I'm pretty sure that's by design.

Thinking back, maybe Mayweather's seemingly odd dalliance with the WWE made perfect sense. In pro wrestling, after all, it's sometimes difficult to determine where the character ends and the real person begins.

Until he demonstrates some consistency, that is and will remain a perfect description of Floyd Mayweather Jr.


Quick reactions to some non-Mayweather news...

Roy Jones will take on Jeff Lacy on August 4. This seems like a great case of two guys who really are perfect for each other, as Roy needs semi-credible opponents to keep fighting and Lacy could use the name recognition of a victory to get one more shot at the big time.

As an added bonus, we can stop hearing "Roy vs. MMA fighter" stories for a while. Unless he decides to fight Kimbo Slice, that is...

Also from Dan Rafael of ESPN.com comes word that Vernon Forrest has been stripped of his WBC title, which now goes to Sergio Martinez. I do feel bad for The Viper, but this spares us from having to watch Forrest and Martinez fight each other, which I think would have been dreadful.

The more interesting nugget in that story is that HBO is trying to pair Martinez with Paul Williams, as I'd definitely enjoy watching The Punisher pound the silly smirk off of Sergio's face.

Posted by The Franchise


Anonymous said...

Floyd fights in and out of the ring the same way, defensive. Doesn't like getting hit, avoids punches (the truth or real issues), and then counters quickly, based on his own personal opinion ie. of who the best is (not competition wise, but money wise.) Very c0cky dude about $ also which fits well as villain. Good at what he does and the role he plays fits him well. I agree, and think it's Fischer who calls it more correctly. That all said, I hope any of the lighter guys serve up the rich big head bully picking on the little guys and puts "Money May 'Cash King' " in his place.

uatu said...

If Money May continues to fight, someone is going to get him eventually.

Boxers get stuck in a position that "league" athletes are not stuck in, they have to promote themselves much harder to make the $ than team athletes do. Tony Romo makes money as soon as he puts on the Cowboys jersey, and people are going to watch the Cowboys play no matter who the starting tackle is.

So, I think fighters like Floyd realize that boxing is hard and dangerous work, and they want to maxmize the money they can make over a short career.

They also have no league forcing scheduled match ups. They can kind of sort of pick their own fights, and on the flip side they sometimes have no control at all. So it forces this strange dynamic, and Floyd is doing what he can to thrive in it.