Floyd Mayweather: To Be TBE He must go for Fifty

D. Gulley for The Shop Report

If you think TBE is not going for fifty, come on, you’ve got it all wrong man (phrasing loosely based on the aptly titled song “The Denial Twist” by The White Stripes).  TBE – the abbreviation of The Best Ever – is another name for Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, and like the title of the song suggests, Mayweather and his fans are in absolute denial that he would end his career at 49-0…

TBE is not the Greatest – So Says Mayweather

TBE – The Best Ever – Floyd Mayweather’s self-proclaimed other nickname, was birthed out of necessity to separate himself from The Greatest boxer (arguably) of all time, or our time – Muhammad Ali.  The idea of Muhammad Ali’s being considered ‘The Greatest’ is a much about Ali the champion pugilist as it was about Muhammad Ali the man, who parlayed his public persona to raise awareness and influence cultural change like few other sports figures have since (such as Arthur Ashe, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson).  Ali ‘The Greatest, championed a 56-5 professional record through social injustice the likes of which few modern champions have ever heard of and no other will ever experience.  With that in mind, The Best Ever is still distinct because of its focus strictly confined to the sweet science…

The Best Ever calibrates the Compubox the way one would zero out a scale before weighing items.  He can’t be hit, and you can’t avoid his hits.  Combat sport fans lust for the knockout leaves them dissatisfied with the manner of clean, consistent punches that Mayweather has landed on his competition.  The fact that he doesn’t have more knockouts is because he’s realized that going or the knockout – always – makes you vulnerable to defeat.  Reference Hugo Ruiz v Julio Ceja or Manny Paquiao’s last fight against Juan Manuel Marquez.  In each case, the fighter in danger was the one delivering the damage but could not seal the deal.  Mayweather can lay claim to TBE in part because he understands this, therefore he makes sure that each and every punch counts; knockout be damned.

Cherry picking is a sweet science in itself albeit highly unpopular within any major fanbase; and Mayweather fans are huge in number but still smaller than the overall boxing fanbase.  The majority hates the idea of cherry picking but being champion should afford one the privilege because the picking was done for them as a challenger.  Though cherry-pickers shouldn’t be ridiculed, the equal opportunity champions should deserve extra credit for taking on any and all challengers.  Now that Mayweather picked Andre Berto, we see evidence of an eroding fan base given the lukewarm response and anticipation to the upcoming bout, the last of Mayweather’s 6 fight deal with Showtime.  But before plummeting the stock of TBE, take a look at the other five fights of the deal: Manny Pacquiao, Marcos Maidana (twice), Canelo Alvarez, and Robert Guerrero.  Each of the fighters brought titles to the ring that left with Mayweather.  While titles aren’t what they used to be, they still remain a measure of the class of fighter that makes a champion.  Looking further back, the bout before the Showtime deal was against one Mr. Miguel Cotto, probably the most challenging fight for Mayweather in the last decade.  Cotto surrendered his WBC belt to Mayweather in this fight.  By now a trend should be established, Mayweather has beaten more world champions than any fighter on record.  So it shouldn’t matter if one is cherry picking the ripest fruit. [full disclosure, in a previous piece I chastised Mayweather on this tactic, I stand slightly corrected now]

Rocky Marciano – the OTHER undefeated champion

‘The Brooklyn Blockbuster’ had a professional record of 49-0, including KO’s against Archie Moore, Jersey Joe Walcott, and Joe Louis (though it was the last fight of Louis’ 18 year career).  It appears obvious that Rocky Marciano’s record remains in a time and place where undefeated records aren’t hallowed, as it’s not mentioned with Floyd’s undefeated record as much as it could be.  But TBE knows it’s there.  Assuming a win against Berto, there will be two undefeated champions in history, both Mayweather and Marciano.  The effort to separate The Best Ever from ‘The Greatest’, is pointless if the body of work will end up synonymous with another great fighter.  It’s not Mayweather like to be similar to anyone, and the difference will come at either a defeat (highly unlikely) or a pair of wins; the first of which may come against Andre Berto on September 12th.  Alas, the only way to make Mayweather’s 49-0 different from Marciano’s 49-0 is to make it 50-0.  And I certainly look forward to Floyd ‘TBE’ Mayweather separating himself from the other greats in history.

No, Mayweather you need Pacquiao, Pacquiao does not need you

D. Gulley for The Shop Report

I’ve made the obscure proclamation that I believe that Pacquiao will beat Mayweather in a match, until Mayweather decides to fight him.  Now, it appears closer to becoming a possibility.  But TBE must realize that his legacy, great as it is, needs Pacquiao while ‘Pac Man’s does not.  I’ve been rather hard on Mayweather in the past on this very topic; fight selection.  It’s the only flaw in his fighting style, if fight selection were ever to be considered a component of style.  Nonetheless, Mayweather has created this flaw for himself, at least when it comes to Manny Pacquiao and the best non-fight to have never happen (yet).

The Blame Game is an Equal Opportunity Employer

The following were the most persistent excuses for not having this fight:

    • Manny Pacquiao initially refused to agree to Olympic Style drug testing.
      Fueling speculation that the Pac Man packed something extra behind his punch, Manny initially refused to agree to such terms, which had never been placed on him by any previous opponent (even from his rival Juan Manuel Marquez).  For that matter, speculation of Pacquiao’s use of PHDs was not widespread until the accusations by Mayweather.  Though Manny eventually agreed to such terms, Pacquiao’s refusal for any duration should be a credit – not a discredit – to Mayweather’s claim.  Advantage – Mayweather
    • The two sides could not agree to purse split.
      Even though Pacquiao has relented his rather soft stance on the issue in recent days, he should have never done relented in the first place.  This is Mayweather’s fault exclusively, as Pacquiao never demanded more than 50% of the purse, never.  More on this later… Advantage – Pacquiao
    •  The fight can only be promoted by Showtime
      Here’s an argument that I can both understand and disagree.  Mayweather the boxer also has a heavy hand in his fight promotion and the deal he has with Showtime is the product this arrangement.  Manny Pacquiao is promoted by Bob Arum, one of many nemeses of Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, and therefore Pacquiao has much less do to with promoting fights as Mayweather.  Consequently, Mayweather the promoter can claim that only Showtime can promote the boxer’s fights but the boxer terribly misguided in thinking that his opponent would not want to be represented by his promotion company. No Advantage – push.

Certainly, there could be many more, but there merely white noise when compared to these three fickle ideas that impede the biggest prizefight in sports history.

Mayweather initiates the value of the fight…

Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather is the best pound for pound fighter in the world.  Critics deride his purported ‘cherry-picking’ of opponents but there is a measure of consistency in each of his fights: Mayweather’s supreme skill.  Compubox numbers show better than I can tell that Mayweather is arguably the most highly skilled tactician ever seen in the sport.  He both lands and evades punches more often than all of his opponents.  What Compubox and no other statistical analysis cannot show is how Floyd always adjusts to a fighter during the fight.  Floyd Mayweather is Shang Tsung personified; if his default strategy is somehow not effective, he will use his opponent’s strengths against them (reference his matches against Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley).  This is why he’s unquestionably the best pound-for-pound and his matches, snoozers that they can be at times, are still a sight to see.  Fans, haters and everyone in between can actually watch a fighter show you how to box and protect yourself.  There is no part of his style that would be a risk to emulate, unlike volume punchers who are high risk-high reward (see Manny Pacquiao).  47 victories, no defeats, and always firmly in control of any situation makes him the ulitmate prize-fighter.  Among the many rewards for a prize fighter are many millions of dollars, which is something that Floyd so eagerly enjoys mentioning.  Add to this his arrogant persona, which makes many seethe to see him beaten and you have a certifiable drawing attraction.  This is why the boxing world is waiting to see what’s next for a fighter who has offered so much already and has one, possibly two, more achievements left to accomplish.

…but Pacquiao sustains the value of the fight

As previously stated, we are already aware of what Mayweather brings to a match, well too aware in fact.  When explaining why the two haven’t met, Floyd always regurgitates his body of work, undefeated streak, the win-loss record of Pacquiao and his earning power for each fight.  Yet these are the reasons why he hasn’t fought the next best fighter of his generation?  Manny Pacquiao’s body of work includes winning titles in 8 weight classes.  This feat can also be a latent reason for Mayweather’s PHD accusation lobbied against Pacquiao, as the record outdoes Mayweather’s titles in 5 different weight classes.  He is not undefeated, obviously, but two of his five losses to date include a controversial decision to Timothy Bradley, and a knockout loss to a rival Juan Manuel Marquez who was knocked down earlier in the fight and behind on the judges’ score cards until he rocked the Pac Man.  Nonetheless, he avenged the loss to Bradley and owns the career matchup over Marquez in four fights (which is why we don’t need to see this again).  Pacquiao is nothing if not exciting, and for fans of the action more than the sweet science of boxing, he delivers ten-fold.  He’s a volume puncher who’s increasingly becoming a smarter boxer.  Most significantly, Manny Pacquiao doesn’t have the stigma of dodging opponents in their prime.  Pacquiao didn’t wait long to meet Erik Morales once arriving in the weight class, and avenged his loss in their March 2005 bout only 10 months later.  Pacquiao scored a TKO against Miguel Cotto in 2009 a full 18 months before Cotto met Mayweather.  Aside from Ricky Hatton in 2008, none of the common opponents that Mayweather met first were in their prime (Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, Rafael Marquez in 2009 and Shane Mosley in 2010).  All told, the pound for pound rankings in the eyes of the public have remained Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao respectively, but it has been Floyd Mayweather pushing the discussion further down the road by fighter selection.

The peculiar mind of a multi-millionaire

Strangely, stretching the machine behind this super-fight makes some sense in Floyd’s case.  The frustration of the boxing world behind the non-fight thus far is because Manny has been recognized for years as the last guy left.  This would imply that as previously mentioned, Floyd’s body of work is largely completed if and when the fight happens.  And if so, then what?  Imagine if Mayweather and Pacquiao would have met in 2010 when originally planned, and Floyd won.   What interest would the public have in any of the subsequent fights; what about even a rematch between the two?  What interest would there be in Mayweather vs. Robert Guerrero fight after Mayweather beat Pacquiao? Or, how about Mayweather vs Maidana the first time after a Mayweather victory over Pacquiao?  The difference in these fights occurring before and not after Pacquiao is millions (and The Rock means MILLIONS – check the WWE reference) of dollars.  Floyd would likely tell you that being the number one money earner and earning as much money as you can are in fact mutually exclusive.  Floyd Mayweather has become the highest earning athlete by having never fought the second biggest draw in the sport, Manny Pacquiao – a guy who arguably eclipses Mayweather’s popularity outside of the mainland USA.  So, the case of Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao may not be one of procrastination but of maturation, with an tremendous ROI at start that has amazingly gained interest several years after it would have peaked.  There has been no fighter or matchup able to “shale” the demand of a Mayweather-Pacquiao matchup, so it has not plummeted like oil in recent days.  Rather like gold over the last ten years, it has remained increasingly high.  It remained high because Mayweather kept winning, and Pacquiao kept bringing excitement.  For this reason, Floyd must understand that half of the value in this dream matchup is with Pacquiao, because he’s done his part to remain to sustain the interest.    Pacquiao deserves what two fighters would split.  Mayweather is more than welcome to finagle his “promotional” works into some revenue stream leading from this green lake.  Perhaps too, it annoys Mayweather that his pristine body of work is continually compared to Pacquiao’s which has lost some luster in recent years.  But testing one’s mettle and getting scarred is no excuse for refusing to reward a guy who has ultimately brought half the interest to the fight, no more but certainly no less.  This is why Pacquiao’s legacy is complete with or without a Mayweather match and Mayweather’s is…

Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, The WWE, and the Familiarity

D. Gulley for TheShopReport –

There was a familiarity in what I experienced on Saturday night’s boxing pay-per-view and the WWE event that followed on Sunday.  The familiarity isn’t in the price-tag (the WWE event was cheaper by around twenty dollars – when, if ever could one say that about a WWE event?), but in the culmination of events that led through the conclusion of the bouts – Mayweather vs. ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Randy “The Viper” Orton vs. Daniel Bryan.  It was after about round 4 that I realized, “I’ve seen this before”; and based on the current state of affairs in boxing, I’m very likely to see this at least another 4 times (the remaining obligation of Mayweather’s fight deal with Showtime).

Mayweather being Mayweather  – a worked-shoot

In pro-wrestling lingo, a work is an arranged event presented as if it were in fact real.  In contrast, a shoot is an event that is truly authentic.  For casual and semi-informed wrestling fans, think of a typical back stage argument as a work and the “Infamous Incident in Montreal” that occurred at the 1997 Survivor Series as a shoot (arguably the most famous shoot ever).  A worked-shoot is a hybrid of those events, whereas elements both real and arranged are combined.  Mayweather does a masterful job of presenting all three facets through the span duration of the All-Access episodes leading up to the fight.  ‘Money’ Mayweather performs the work – trash talking his opponent during his training.  Floyd Mayweather performs the shoot – speaking candidly about how De La Hoya’s blueprint has never delivered a victory to anyone he offered it to, and defending his lavish lifestyle as a celebration of hard work and dedication to boxing and not the pursuit of nefarious ventures (no argument here).  Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather performs the worked shoot – showcasing the shopping spree for the ladies of ‘The Money Team’ (TMT), and the shopping spree for his daughter in nearly equal time.  It would appear as if Floyd resigns himself to knowing that he’s the heel (wrestling term for bad guy) of boxing even if he’s the featured attraction.  This reminds me of a guy named Paul Levesque (more on him later).

Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez – is this his moment?

Young, strong, fast, powerful, determined, hungry are just six words to describe the upstart challenger.  At just 23 he was a prime formidable challenge for a still great – and aging – 36 year old Mayweather.  In my analysis, Alvarez posed a greater threat to win than Miguel Cotto before him.  Alvarez has a similar fighting style to Cotto – which clearly gave Mayweather more trouble than anyone in recent memory – and unlike Cotto, he was only partially battle-tested but yet not war-weary.  A photogenic face with a personality that appears in stark contrast to the champion makes it him a better face (aka babyface, wrestling term for good guy) than WWE’s Daniel Bryan compared to Randy Orton.  A look at the trail of destruction that Canelo left (e.g. the punishment he delivered to Austin Trout in April) is a solid case that Mayweather’s undefeated streak was near its long and illustrious end.

The Direct Link – The World Awaits & WrestleMania XXIV –

The World Awaits – Mayweather’s 2007 (not-so-surprising but lackluster) victory over Oscar De La Hoya – wasn’t Money’s (then nick-named as Pretty Boy) first main event, but it was arguably his first significant headliner.  To clarify by comparison of pro wrestling, there’s a distinction between the main event of WWE Raw (weekly), compared to Night of Champions (monthly pay-per-view) moreover compared to headlining WrestleMania (the preeminent pay-per-view).  The Mayweather fights against Jose Luis Castillo and Diego Corrales were compared to Raw, his Night of Champions Moments were vs. Zab Judah and Arturo Gatti, and The World Awaits was Mayweather’s first WrestleMania.  There was significant build up to this fight, the constant disclosure about the purse of the fighters, the first incarnation of a 4 part mini-series leading up to a fight, and the beginnings of ‘Money’ Mayweather – the worked shoot.  However, during the promo to The World Awaits, something went awry.  The main idea of the promotion is that the case for both fighters winning is supposed to be made, the ambiguity of the finish should be ever-present; not the logical winner.  The little doubt that I had of a Mayweather victory prior to the promotion was completely gone before fight night.  It could’ve been due to De La Hoya who has historically has trouble with faster (or better opponents) like Hopkins, Mosley and Felix Sturm [but I digress].  It could have been due to actions of Floyd Mayweather Sr. – Oscar De La Hoya’s former trainer – that led to De La Hoya choosing Freddie Roach for this bout.  This situation gave a the heel (wrestling term for bad guy) a sympathetic element – which was good for family but horrible for promotions.  On a minor note, Mayweather’s claims (later somewhat substantiated) on De La Hoya’s character also aided in sabotaging the contrast of character which was a foundational element of interest in the fight.  Mayweather would learn quite a bit from these missteps by working his match against WWE superstar ‘The Big Show’ in WrestleMania XXIV in 2008.  A rarity in crossover matches that feature athletes from other sports, Mayweather actually played the heel against the massively larger seven foot, four hundred pound pro wrestler.  “Money” Mayweather was by now fully defined – the arrogance, swagger, dedication and preparation that made him boxing’s biggest attraction crossed over rather convincingly to the world of sports entertainment.  Working with the talent of WWE, primarily Triple-H on how to sell a match, particularly the building of a match paid off well.  Let me note, the match itself was not that great, but the building of the match was remarkable.  Mayweather and WrestleMania XXIV is an often overlooked event that foreshadows the discontent that even some Mayweather fans have with the era’s greatest fighter.

Throw Some Game Into the Money

“Triple-H” or “The Game” (the Paul Levesque guy mentioned earlier) is name likely to be exclaimed from the mouths of anyone in awe of seeing WWE’s current COO accompany Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather to the ring in 2009 vs. Juan Manuel Marquez and 2012 vs. Miguel Cotto.  The Game has built quite a legacy for himself from his in and out of ring moves (his wife is the daughter of WWE owner Vince McMahon).  Paul Levesque has quite a bit of creative control behind his Triple-H character and other talent in the WWE.  Most significantly, Paul has a keen awareness of the perception of both Triple-H (the character) and Paul Levesque (the person) as a heel and has made a career of using this to his advantage.  Interestingly enough, Mayweather’s post fight scuffle with Shane Mosley occurred after the Marquez fight where Triple-H first accompanied Mayweather to the ring.  Since this incident, I argue that Mayweather’s pre-fight promotions have been measurably better, each eclipsing the former, and the only missteps have been the chosen opponents (more on that later).  Mayweather stays consistent in making sure that he’s the heel of the match, and the opponents are viewed as the face.  Like his boxing prowess, he’s turned a flaw in the “Money” character into a strength of that very character.  The sympathy for repairing an estranged relationship with Floyd Sr. has evolved into a repaired relationship where Floyd Sr.’s trash-talking has only helped to further push “Money” Mayweather has a heel.  This is akin to the disclosure of the budding romance and eventual marriage of Stephanie McMahon to Paul Levesque (Triple-H) during a time when Triple-H was involved in a feud with a tyrannical owner – and father-in-law – Vince K. McMahon.  The Levesque-McMahon family has been able to work the relationship into its current state where COO Triple-H and his wife are the heavy-handed, manipulative, heels of the company.

All Will be Revealed – Why am I Surprised?

Of all that I knew and have known, I didn’t connect the dots until the fourth round of the Mayweather-Alvarez fight.  Once it became apparent that Alvarez was not going to get around the straight left jab of Mayweather, and Alvarez’ boyish haircut would tell the tale by waving every time he was hit, I felt a sense of Déjà vu.  This sense of Déjà vu that made me think back to this year’s WrestleMania XXIX where The Undertaker defeated CM Punk to extend his undefeated streak at WrestleMania to 21-0.  My logic and decades of following the sport (such as it is) of wrestling dictated to me that I knew the result before the match began; The Undertaker would win.  Nonetheless, the match was a capstone of masterful promotion that captivated an audience by making the best case that each competitor could win the match; CM Punk, the era’s longest reigning WWE Champion vs. The Undertaker  a former WWE Champion that has always found a way to win at WrestleMania, if nowhere else.  The idea of CM Punk winning defied and compelled me against my logic, and I bought in (and paid $59.95 for it).  And in the fourth round of Mayweather-Alvarez, I found the familiar element; I realized that I was being duped into believing that Alvarez posed a serious threat to dethrone a fighter of Mayweather’s skill much like believing that CM Punk would be able to end the Undertaker’s legacy when he has not matured into his own.  Like The Undertakers streak, the product of a decades-long push (wrestling term for a scheduled program/story), Mayweather’s undefeated record is one worthy of history books.  The difference is that Undertaker – the sports entertainment athlete – appears to have faced greater tests than Mayweather – the combat sport prize-fighter.  And this is unfortunate for Mayweather.  He has the utmost respect for his profession and his work ethic defines as such.  I shall clarify, as I am encroaching on making an argument that Mayweather’s fights have been somehow fixed, that I do not suggest that Canelo and/or any of Mayweather’s preceding opponents took a dive.  I firmly believe that Mayweather, Alvarez or any of the aforementioned boxers in this piece have too much self-respect to force a conclusion to a match.  I submit that the field of competition in professional boxing is incredibly fragile, even far weaker than the field of WWE champion candidates.  This is the reason why Alvarez and before him Robert Guerrero, and before him Victor Ortiz – but not Miguel Cotto – have all disappointed; they were never a match for Mayweather.  Most smart marks (pro wrestling term for fans who allegedly have sense of the inner-workings of the enterprise) of boxing realize this, and this is why they rather look at what could’ve been compared to what actually was.  The smart marks of boxing state that Mayweather should’ve fought Cotto prior to Cotto’s controversial wars with Antonio Margarito, or perhaps should’ve given Paul Williams a shot. More persistently, the echoes of the Filipino sensation-turned-politician-who-must-not-be-named still remain, however faint, considering that his most recent year proves that he has lost any advantage to pose a threat to Mayweather.

The Ultimate Choice

Ultimately, Mayweather dictates his destiny, and deservedly so.  Like it or not, he’s undefeated, unblemished, and has never been knocked down as a professional.  He has the power and notoriety in the sport unmatched by any other active fighter.  With this power, he can stay the current course, selecting the fighters that showcase Mayweather’s best talents rather than their own.  He can also force and influence the type of change by an athlete most recently expressed in 2010’s infamous “Decision” that changed the landscape of franchise building and contract negotiations in the NBA.  Mayweather has accomplished a great deal in his career and his willingness to do things by Mayweather’s own terms is understood and respected.  Though, his accelerated work rate in this stage of his career is a sign that he does acknowledge the murmurs of his fans and detractors.  It is within Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather’s ability to create the type of fights with challengers that truly possess the skill to give Mayweather the challenge he deserves.  Otherwise, I will continue to have more belief that an arranged decision in a WWE match between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton is less certain than the outcome of the next fight between Mayweather and his next opponent.