Where is Floyd's Fighter's Heart?

By Steve Janoski - When I heard that Floyd Mayweather was returning to the ring, my first thought was, “This will be it.”

I had envisioned him returning to the sport like a conquering hero, a modern day Hernan Cortes, crushing those welterweights who he had been accused of ducking over the years with sharp left hooks and stiff straight rights. After these brawls, he would join the pantheon of boxing heroes and be called one of the Greatest Of All Time, alongside the Alis and Fraziers, the Durans and Lenoards, the Haglers and Hearns..

Yes, I thought. This must be it.

And then…I heard that he was fighting Juan Manuel Marquez… and I knew that this year‘s “Money” wasn’t any different than the last one.

Not that Marquez isn’t a great fighter, mind you- he most certainly is. However, he’s a small great fighter, one that is two weight classes lighter and five inches shorter in reach. On top of this, Floyd Mayweather is an incredible fighter, a once-in-a-lifetime talent with superb reflexes, impeccable ring generalship, and yet-unmatched hand speed.

Floyd has been blessed with that we mortals could only dream of having; even more remarkable, his skills, which for most men fade with age, have seemed to have only been enhanced, more defined in their perfection.

And that may be the real reason why Floyd is a rarity amongst fighters- unlike most warriors, whose hearts and wills outlive their skills, Floyd is the opposite- a fighter whose skills have outlasted what his heart, and maybe his head, tell him he can do.

Once upon we had a Floyd Mayweather Jr. who truly fought. We watched him embarrass the indomitable Chico Corrales, knocking him down five times in 10 rounds. We saw him in 24-rounds of war with Jose Luis Castillo, winning both times, the first by the narrowest of narrow margins.

Later, he battered the heroic Arturo Gatti into submission, raked Zab Judah (after Judah’s pre-requisite “Four Good Rounds” were over), and out-brawled Baldomir. He out-thought De La Hoya, and out-slugged Hatton. Two weeks ago, we saw him “come back” to the sport we all knew he never left against a determined, but outclassed, Juan Manuel Marquez in a decidedly one-sided fight that featured Mayweather at his finest.

Those last names are big ones to be sure; Hatton and De La Hoya are amongst the most popular fighters in this generation. Unfortunately for Floyd, that’s all they are- just names.

The Mayweather-De La Hoya fight was done plainly for the money. It was not the finest matchup that could be made- a 154 lb. Mayweather fighting out of his weight class, and being more conservative than normal against the quickly-aging De La Hoya who had always performed less than brilliantly in his biggest fights. Ricky Hatton was another one of those odd mismatches, with the tough Englishman who always struggled at welterweight stepping up for only the second time, and ending up way above his head. And since then, there was… well, silence.

Not from boxing fans, mind you. Since “Money” decided to move up to welter, we’ve all wanted to see him fight the big dogs; no more old warriors or blown up 140-pounders or 8-loss brawlers. No, we’ve wanted to see him get in with the lethal fighters, the Sugar Shanes, the Killer Cottos, the Clotteys. I would love to see him fight the Paul William, Andre Berto, hell, even the Collazo or Quintana. Just fight full size welterweights, the guys that he knows (and they know) could actually hurt him, the guys aren’t going to get in the ring with their hands down or forget to jab.

But that won’t happen. On Sept. 19, we saw that Mayweather knew full well that his smaller, slower opponent could hurt him no more than a puppy can hurt a pitbull. Unfortunately it seems that this is how Floyd likes things, and it is beginning to appear that this pitbull is silently fearful about facing dogs his size.

The look on Mayweather’s face when Sugar Shane Mosley got in the ring after the fight showed us all we needed to know- Floyd, looking more shook than Max Kellerman, didn’t react with his typical bravado. While not one man in the boxing world questions whether Sugar Shane would fight him, we all question whether Floyd is so willing. The “banter” after the fight did little to dispel that belief in those of us who hold it.

Regardless, Floyd will go on his way. He will beat Pacquiao in similar fashion as he dispatched Marquez, and probably go on to fight another fighter that he is sure he could beat before he retires again. He will make loud noises about how he is the greatest, but no one will listen. Why? Because for most fighters, it’s the names in the win-and-loss column that that defines their legacy; for Floyd, it appears that it will be the names not in any column that define his.

And that is not only a waste of God given talent, but also a God damn shame.

Article posted on 02.10.2009

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