By Earl Blaney – It’s not the fight we want to see, but we’ll watch it anyway. It shouldn’t really be a good one, but that doesn’t really matter. The guy who can’t loose is well capable of doing exactly that. These are some of the oxymoronic statements that underscore this weekends bout between Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley, factual statements that make morons of today’s boxing fans and a mockery of the sport of boxing..
As everyone knows this fight is not the fight that should be fought this weekend.
It is instead a poorly made, promoter produced, “knock off” of a real mega fight (Mayweather-Pacquiao). Like so many lower class consumers, rather than call the police on the back alley dealers, boxing fans opt instead to buy the bag. We know the quality doesn’t match up, but at a distance it looks the same, and for practical reasons it’s useable (well at least until the third or fourth round when the whole thing falls apart). What makes this choice so pathetic for boxing fans is that in boxing “knock off” fights cost the same as the “original” would.
Many people will watch this fight because despite his hiatus from boxing Floyd Mayweather remains one of the best technical boxers in recent history (he would say the best of all time). There is no doubting the former. Unfortunately for boxing and for Mayweather himself, his ego has been in training for much longer and at a greater intensity than his boxing skills. Mayweather’s attitude towards the sport is the biggest obstacle to a fight fans conversion to his self proclaimed worshipility. In fact, rarely has such a talented athlete done so little to advance the sport that he participates in. Unfortunately also, while this situation is an anomaly in sport, it has certainly become a commonality in boxing.
In fairness a criticism of Mayweather’s recent fight history partly represents a criticism of the unskilled labor market making boxing today. His big fights since hitting welterweight (147lbs. 2005) have been against three men; Zab Judah, Ricky Hatton and De la Hoya.
Going into the Judah fight (2005) the undisciplined Judah seemed a bad match for the technical mastery of Mayweather. He was. However, Judah was able to legitimately bully Mayweather around throughout the early fight (highlighted by a legitimate knockdown in the second). The bullying turned ugly later on.
Two things were true of this mismatch. When the two were boxing Mayweather dominated, but when a fight broke out in the boxing ring Mayweather looked very vulnerable. Of course going into the contest Mayweather had no intention of fighting, he wanted to box. This is characteristic of a Mayweather performance. Technically dominating a technically unsound opponent hardly makes Mayweather a great fighter it only makes him a smart fighter. There are a long list of fighters however who were/are both. This of course is the reason people re-watch old Ali fights and don’t and never will re-watch a Mayweather points scoring clinic. Yes Mayweather is good at “boxing” but his fights aren’t good boxing to watch.
Against Oscar De la Hoya Mayweather faced legitimate technical opposition against an opponent who has built his career on losing closely matched big fights and winning promotion contracts to big mismatched ones. Taking away from his victory in this Mayweather’s best true “boxing” match, was the fact that Mayweather was not able to dominate the slowing, aged De La Hoya (any where near the way Pacquiao would, only a year later). Mayweather only managed a spilt decision victory. Impressive? Slightly, but certainly slight of great.
Mayweather was the first to expose Ricky Hatton as a press inflated B class fighter. He didn’t do it in convincing fashion (like Pacquiao did, again about a year later), but he did it none the less. And then, as we remember he went into retirement saying “(he) had nothing left to prove”, while critics were left wondering what in fact he had proved to begin with?
There lies the crux of another problem. In most of today’s sports egos are apparent but controlled; unfortunately it is apparent that today’s boxing is controlled by egos. In what other sport are athletes allowed to unilaterally overrule governing commissions and impose their own rules on the sport (such as what Mayweather attempted to with blood testing regulations leading to the cancellation of the Pacquiao fight)? In what other sport can an athlete enter into competition ignoring the set rules of the contest all together (such as when Mayweather totally ignored the weight limitation for his last fight against Marquez)? In what sport can an athlete self proclaim his greatness and have it legitimately honored by fans when he refuses to face real competition (like Manny Pacquiao)? The answer to these questions sadly is, ONLY IN BOXING.
Due to the sad state of affairs that exist in the sport boxing fans no longer have the distinguishing taste or class to differentiate between fakes and genuine products. Much to the delight of promoters like De La Hoya (and most others) who continue to use be able to use a low class work force to turn out a substandard product that costs just as much as you should pay for the high quality model. On the street, when you buy a fake bag you get what you paid for. In boxing you certainly don’t.