Floyd Mayweather: Skills Don't Pay The Bills

20.06.05 - By Fadi Khawaja - The Problem: Floyd Mayweather Junior has been a student of pugilism since the early age of seven. He possesses versatility, speed, reflexes and footwork that is reminiscent of Roy Jones Junior and ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard. Like Jones, he feels his skills are under appreciated and he is not making the kind of money that the best pound for pound boxer should be. Unlike Leonard, he has yet to break through the shell of hardcore boxing fans and into the mainstream. Appealing to a wide audience will make the difference on what digits show up on Mayweathers pay cheque. In 2001, the under valued Jones was offered $10 million by HBO to split with Bernard Hopkins but the popular Leonard earned eleven million dollars plus a percentage of the gate to fight Marvin Hagler in 1987. So despite Mayweathers Olympic bronze medal at 125 pounds, an outstanding 84-6 amateur record and a proven record in the pro ranks Floyd Mayweathers superstar skills are not providing him with a superstar income, not yet at least.

The Solution -- The solution is simple – entertain, be accessible and seek the top fights. Entertaining is not simply fistic warfare, it is a number of things that Oscar De La Hoya epitomised. De La Hoya’s looks appealed to the ladies, his style appealed to the fans and his constant smiling appealed to the masses.. Mayweather has all of these assets but he has to use them, instead he finds a way of falling short. Mayweather finds a way of getting into the press through court charges, his brittle hands find a way of making his fights boring and his entourage find a way of restricting media access and branding him with an image that is not popular.

Mayweather must realise for all the bad things writers can do to your career they can do good. Mayweather conveys his understanding of the power of the press when he said, ‘to me all press is good press’. I remember reading one writer from The Ring magazine say only two people have ever turned him down for interviews and Mayweather was one of them. Mayweather understands where he is going wrong and looks on his way to rectifying the mistakes. He has turned up at the press conferences, given the sound bites and quotes that get the writers and fans interested but now he needs to produce the sparks in the ring.

If Mayweather just had to beat Gatti he could outbox him but this is his first pay per view and if he wants the limelight he needs to make a statement. He has already said he will take Gatti to deep waters then after a few rounds go into the pocket and drown him. Mayweather could win easy but people who watch Gatti like the ‘get hit and hit back’ style, not Mayweathers preferred method of ‘hit and not get hit’. So if Mayweather is to win over some of those fans that are watching he may have to go to war. On the flip side if Mayweather beats Gatti up he may not win over Gatti’s hometown fans but he already understands his role as the ‘villain’.

The Anti-Floyd -- Beneath all of Floyds hype for the fight there has to be one thing that shines through, his dislike for Gatti. It is not a personal dislike, yet (judging by HBO’s recent interview with the combatants), but it’s a professional dislike. Gatti represents everything Floyd is not. Gatti is loved by the media and fans, he has a large following and he gets paid for, as Floyd puts it, being and beating ‘club fighters’. As Floyd put it in the mentioned interview with Jim Lampley, ‘I worked my way from the bottom to the top, I won the title by beating top competition and top fighters, this guy was handed the title, he’s a paper champion… he’s a C+ fighter, I’m an A+ fighter’. In this fight Floyd hopes to attain what he feels is rightly his, a paycheque, a following, exposure and future pay per view events.

The Present and the Future -- Now as under appreciated and under paid as Mayweather likes to make out he is, his current situation is not so bad and the future is bright. The consensus today is that Mayweather is either the top pound for pound fighter or second only to the man who has ruled his division with an iron fist, Bernard Hopkins. Since 2001 Mayweather has not received less than $2 million for a fight and for the Gatti affair he will receive $4 million (originally $3.1 million) plus a percentage of the pay per view profits. However at this moment in time a case can be made for Floyd being the greatest Super Featherweight fighter to have ever laced them up, so how does such a fighter get so under valued. This is the problem, by no means does Floyd live the hard life but is he living the life his skills and talent demand. I think not but he must not fall ill with royjones-anitis. This is the illness which Roy Jones suffered after fighting James Toney. Despite the weight hopping you felt he was not out looking for challenges even though he claimed he was. He went in search of the money but the money does not come without the big fights. As Mayweather has said "it's not about legacy. I'm already going down in history. It's about money". As long as the boxer is not a hype job, the biggest earners in boxing did not get paydays from solely going after the money. A quick glance at the records of Leonard, De La Hoya and Ali will show you that though they were paid handsomely, it came at a price, they fought the big fights. In Top Rank, Mayweather has a promotion team that can deliver defining fights. He has said however he would have liked his career to have gone differently stating ‘We could have started my pay-per-view run with Angel Manfredy'. He is a free agent since his contract ended with Top Rank; he says he will make sure he has a much bigger say in his career refusing to have his ‘back against the ropes’. No matter what the future holds as long as Mayweather seeks out defining fights his bank balance will take care of its self.

Extra: I believe Floyd is going to box for the first third of the fight then he is going to settle down a little bit and begin ripping in hard shots over the next third of the fight, in the final third of the fight he will go for the stoppage. A win via Gatti being outclassed/stopped, cuts stoppage or even a knockout are all feasible outcomes. Gatti in my opinion will decide his fate in the last third of the fight. If his mind quits he will get stopped but Gatti is a tough fighter so if he chooses he can last the distance on toughness. Stylistically I cannot see Gatti winning. He has three options, counter punch the counter puncher, swarm the counter puncher or do both. Gattis chances of winning are slim and none but this is boxing and like history has shown slim likes to make un-welcomed visits or judging by Mayweathers popularity, a welcomed visit.

Article posted on 21.06.2005

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