Floyd 'Money' Mayweather: Thanks, but no thanks...please don't come back to boxing, Floyd
It's been over four years since Floyd Mayweather Jr. officially announced his retirement from the sport that made him a household name and a very wealthy man.
No...boxing fans shouldn't consider Money May's glorified exhibition with the overmatched Connor McGregor, or his one round stint with Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa to be his last fight. Floyd's final bout as an active prizefighter and champion was against Andre Berto in September of 2015.
Although the future Hall of Famer indeed left an indelible mark on the sport of boxing and deserves to be considered among the all-time greats, one could argue that the sport is much better off without the Money Man's involvement as an active participant.
Before any of his die-hard fans dismiss this editorial as a "hate" driven rant filled with blind animosity or irrational dislike for the man, let's give credit where credit is due. Floyd deserves respect for his entire body of work both in and out of the ring. The soon to be 43-year-old boxing legend will undoubtedly be remembered as arguably the greatest defensive fighter of all time. Only names like Willie Pep, Pernell Whitaker and Georgie Benton can be considered in the same discussion.
Also, Mayweather seemingly became the first man to beat the business of boxing at its own game. He figured out a way to earn millions of dollars without taking life-altering punishment in the ring, and set an example for every hard-working prizefighter on how to take control of his own career without lining the pockets of an opportunistic promoter.
But the artist formerly known as Pretty Boy Floyd is a true boxing anomaly. What made Money Mayweather a true sensation and a great success more than likely won't work for anyone else. One could further argue that the characteristics which made him great have proven to be bad for the overall health of the sport.
First of all, let's begin with a disclaimer recognizing the fact that Floyd is not to blame for any of boxing's current "growing pains". It's not right to hate on the man for making the most of his own career and considering his safety before anything else. It's not his fault that other aspiring prizefighters attempted to emulate his path to greatness.
With that said, boxing is just now starting to understand that a safety-first mentality keeps mainstream and casual fans of boxing away from the sport. Paying customers expect to see more "fight" in their fights, and prefer to see plenty of ebb and flow drama in the ring.
For years, the late great Emanuel Steward would complain that most of his fighters became too enamored with the ability to make an opponent "miss", rather than scoring to the body and head with clean counters. Although he had a great amount of respect for the fellow Michiganian, the renowned boxing coach couldn't stand the defensive influence Floyd had on an entire generation of fighters.
"If I see you avoiding two or three punches consecutively without returning fire, you're not doing enough to win the fight," exclaimed the legendary trainer of champions to his entire stable of combatants. The astute trainer knew that knock-outs brought fans to the arenas. He also knew that fights were won by scoring effectively to the body and head, and not by making opponents miss.
Judges score fights by the amount of clean, effective and consequential punches landed...not by how many a fighter avoids. Ring generalship and effective aggression are a secondary criteria, not the primary.
Emanuel knew boxing would not thrive without seeing these brave combatants throw punches with bad intentions...and lots of them. Fans want to be inspired, not bored out of their minds. They want to see risk-takers and not athletes who appear to be "afraid" of getting hit.
Once again, Floyd was an anomaly. Somehow he became the biggest draw in the history of the sport while winning with a minimal offensive effort...his PPVs should have featured a disclaimer urging other fighters "not to try this at home, because it won't work for you!"
Floyd had that rare combination of charisma, speed, reflexes and intelligence. His success was lightning in a bottle that more than likely won't be replicated again any time soon...most casual and mainstream fans are hoping it won't.
Another negative aspect that fighters are just now dismissing is the idea that there's great shame in getting a loss on your resume.
In no other era has a single loss meant professional catastrophe more than the last ten years. The great Emanuel Steward also stated that the only undefeated fighters are the ones who never fight anybody.
Truly Floyd, once again, was the exception. He racked up an amazing 26 consecutive wins in title fights and defeated 23 current or former world champions throughout his stellar, future Hall of Fame career.
Obviously Floyd used his win/loss record as a marketing tool, and fans, as well as other fighters, began to believe that a single loss was a shameful occurrence, which resulted in fighters being cautious in their respective match-up selection.
Fighters and their teams would respectively either refuse to face other titleholders or price themselves out of demanded match-ups against undefeated badasses in their respective division. Thankfully, fighters and fans are starting to realize that there has to be a winner and a loser in every match-up, and there is no shame whatsoever in a loss at the highest level of the sport.
Even the great Sugar Ray Robinson had 19 professional losses upon retirement.
So although Floyd generated a ton of interest in his events, boxing as a whole suffered while he reigned supreme. Mainstream and casual fans seemed to take pride in stating, "boxing is a dead sport which features little to no action." Although Mayweather's bank account was thriving, boxing was consequently becoming a fringe pastime in America during his tenure as the biggest draw in professional sports.
Finally, too many professional fighters were looking at the riches Floyd was earning for twelve rounds, and started to demand millions for a mere tune-up. Most boxers didn't understand that they couldn't demand "Floyd money" because there was no demand for their respective fights.
If there's little to no demand for a match-up, where is the money expected to come from?
Unfortunately, most didn't consider what Floyd had to accomplish in the ring before he could make those kinds of demands. Floyd didn't just turn pro and expect a purse of $30 million dollars. It took a lot of work and a lot of good fortune to finally demand a fortune for his efforts.
It took Floyd eleven years as a professional to finally earn a purse that exceded seven figures.
So although boxing's growing pains over the past half-decade were a result of Money May's influence, none of it was his fault.
With that said...on behalf of a legion of mainstream and casual fans who desperately want to fall in love with boxing again, I am urging Floyd to stay retired. Please don't influence another generation of fight fans. For the positive health of the sport, enjoy your retirement from the professional ring.
Your absence from the sport has been greatly appreciated.