I won’t ever pilot an X-Wing.
By Kyle Magin
My Star Wars fantasy is relevant, so bear with.
I’m never going to join Red Squadron in an attack on the Death Star.
Luke Skywalker will never throw me a bro nod at an awards ceremony.
I’ve made my peace with that.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. needs to do the same with his desire to be remembered as one of the greatest boxers ever.
It’s just as fantastic as my desire to fly next to a Wookie and Han “Greedo shot first” Solo. And, like my inability to go back in time and travel to a galaxy far, far away, Floyd can’t do shit about his dream.
Floyd is a great boxer, no doubt. He’s never lost. And even though he hasn’t really knocked somebody out in seven years, he’s dominated most everyone he’s ever faced.
It’s the back end of that clause where Floyd’s desire — stated in the lead-in promotions and interviews to his Saturday fight with Marcos Maidana — really hits a snag.
Floyd famously ducked, avoided and eluded a megafight with Manny Pacquiao beginning in the late 2000s, when such a fight would be actually desirable to fight fans, and continues to avoid it to this day, when such a fight would be desirable to promoters.
He fought a severely declined Oscar de la Hoya (future Clippers owner?) in the midst of his severe decline, a vastly overrated Ricky Hatton at the height of his undeserved esteem and Victor Diaz with his hands down. He’s had a few gems, for sure, but by-in-large, Floyd has handpicked opponents for their names well past or prior to their abilities to give him a great fight (Looking at you, Canelo Alvarez.)
Taking on Maidana again gives Floyd what he wants — the Argentine is a warrior with a wicked uppercut that registers when you’re looking into the bottom of the MGM’s Jumbotron, beat rising star and previously undefeated Floyd protégé Adrien Broner in his last match, but punches himself out early like a host of Mayweather opponents—a name without a game to match Floyd’s own.
Now he wants to be remembered as an all-time great? Here’s the hypothetical situation that maybe gets Floyd into the conversation of an all-time great welterweight, never mind pound-for-pound champ.
Fight and beat:
• Pacquiao (just to say he did it. At this point it’s analogous to hooking up with that high school crush of yours who’s now a townie doing hair at the inspiringly-named salon your mom thinks about trying.)
That list would clear out every meaningful division and challenger within 13 pounds of Floyd’s preferred 147, something his predecessors and betters in the small man’s game — Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard — all at least attempted during their illustrious careers.
Problem is, Floyd’s not sure he wants to fight out his current Showtime contract — three tilts remain after Saturday’s clash with Maidana. Even if he did go on a tear and make fights that the feudal world of boxing would be sure to stamp out—he spent his prime picking his spots and dancing around outmatched foes. He fought smart instead of bravely, making fights when the matchup was most physically advantageous for Floyd, not his fans or the sport.
These decisions, all Floyd’s, do not an all-time great make.
His style is impeccable. The shoulder roll technique has rendered him the most fearsome counter-puncher in the game. Opponents’ best punches find his elbow, maybe his pelvis, but frequently nothing at all. He’s made gobs of money — he’s seriously talking about (also) buying the Los Angeles Clippers, a plan that probably snags when his comedy routine involving Pacquiao and sushi sees the light of a larger American audience — and likely took home $80 million after his 2013 fight with Alvarez.
He’s turned the lead-up to his fights into must-see TV and studiously avoided the traps of unscrupulous promoters and drugs and alcohol that downed so many other great fighters.
Much of his success can be credited to his on-again, off-again trainers, Roger Mayweather and Floyd Mayweather, Sr. For all their bombast, his uncle and father know their boxing history and intentionally steered Floyd past distraction and pitfalls or provided examples of what not to do, in Floyd Sr.’s case.
This is why it’s puzzling that Floyd feels he’s an all-time great. He damn well knows better. Floyd’s an amazing fighter, self-promoter and moneymaker.
But if he honestly think he’s an all-time great, I’ve got to start bull’s-eyeing some womp rats in my T-14.