On a night when college football was the bigger story, the king of boxing continued his reign atop the sport. Floyd Mayweather dispatched the dashing, red-haired Canelo Alvarez so effortlessly Saturday night in Las Vegas that the king hardly earned the $40 million-plus tribute he’s expected to bank.
But nothing Mayweather does surprises. Not anymore. Oh, he’s not the most likeable champion that ever held multiple belts? So what? He’s only the best to do so.
There, I’ve said it. Yes, Floyd Mayweather is the best fighter ever. He’s all that we’ve wanted to see in a great fighter: quick of feet and fists, elusive in a dancer’s way with the kind of power found in a warehouse of Duracell batteries.
These are the visible signs we notice about Mayweather. Yet unlike all the others who boxing historians have attached the label of “greatest ever” to, Mayweather is the smartest of the lot. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the Underground School of Street Education, which has helped him turn his brand into a moneymaking empire that Google, Facebook and — dare we suggest it — Apple itself must envy.
In a sport where so few boxers matter, Mayweather is all that keeps the sport a pay-per-view powerhouse. He draws audiences like Paris Hilton, Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump draw controversy.
Viewers come not to celebrate Mayweather, but to see someone beat him to a bloody mess. For all the things that he is, he is not a king that fight fans have warmed to.
To me, his persona resembles Muhammad Ali’s. For like Ali, Mayweather is brash, cocksure and defiant. Fight fans seem to hate those traits in boxers, particularly those boxers who are Black, handsome and rich.
Pretty Boy Floyd is all three — and more. He is boxing in this millennium. The divisions he rules are the only ones people follow. Ask yourself this: Who is the world’s heavyweight champion or the world’s light-heavyweight champion or the world’s lightweight champion?
Now, what man stands atop most of the weight classes between the heaviest end of the sport and the lightest?
Don’t bother to guess. The answer is Mayweather, and no one on the horizon looks capable of taking those belts from him.
Once upon a time, I thought Mayweather was a paper champ. I reckoned that he dodged the best fighters just to keep his record spotless. He didn’t want to fight Manny Pacquiao because he knew he couldn’t beat him.
In hindsight, I can see better what Mayweather was about. To him, a fight with Pac Man was purely business, and the businessman in Mayweather, 36, wasn’t going to let the lesser fighter get the same share of the purse that he did.
Now, such a fight seems pointless. Who wants to watch it? Pac Man is a flawed fighter, his aura of invincibility having long ago been shattered. Mayweather, meanwhile, has continued to win titles and earn mega-checks.
I know I’m late to the bandwagon; so are others. But boxing insiders, fans and critics are stingy with praise, even when they see greatness in front of them. Nobody looks as great in the present as the fighters from our past do, right?
That’s just truth, because if ever a man in the hurt business were better than Pretty Boy Floyd, I’ve yet to see this fighter inside the ring. Nor has anybody else.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images)