Can a Fighter Be Great When He Refuses to Fight Greats? Mayweather Names Next Nameless Opponent
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. likes a man with a slow hand. He picked one with two of them for his next opponent.
The undefeated welterweight scheduled a fight with Argentina's Marcos Maidana for Saturday, May 3. Was Henry Bruseles booked that weekend?
Maidana holds notable victories over Adrien Bronner, Victor Ortiz, and a washed-up Erik Morales, so it's not as though he's a no-talent nobody. But he's slow and plodding, tailor made for the quicker, slicker Mayweather. We've seen this fight before, and we know how it ends.
"Marcos Maidana's last performance immediately brought him to my attention," Mayweather explained in a news release promoting the fight. "He is an extremely skilled fighter who brings knockout danger to the ring. I think this is a great fight for me and he deserves the opportunity to see if he can do what 45 others have tried to do before him--beat me."
Does Floyd even believe his own words? Maidana may or may not deserve the opportunity. Mayweather's fans deserve better.
Mayweather is a legendary gambler outside of the ring. Inside of it, he's cautious and conservative. His career is defined less by who he fought than by who he ducked. Kostya Tzu is retired. Paul Williams is paralyzed. And Manny Pacquiao isn't who he was five years ago. The Money Man let those big-money fights slip by because he's afraid of losing. Twenty years from now, when ESPN Classic combs through Mayweather's fights to showcase his talents to a generation that never saw him apply the sweet science in real time, the network could air fights against Oscar de la Hoya, Zab Judah, Jose Luis Castillo, and maybe Miguel Cotto. That's it. After 45 fights, Floyd Mayweather hasn't stockpiled too many fights worth repeating. That's what separates him from other all-time great fighters: we want to watch their epic battles over and over again. We want to forget that we ever witnessed Floyd's glorified sparring sessions. Mayweather values winning more than the challenge.
What would Ali be without Frazier, Leonard without Duran, Barrera without Morales? Challenges define boxers. Fighters can win through losing.
Maidana, at 35-3 with 31 knockouts, boasts considerable power. But who, aside from Floyd's handlers, clamored for a fight with El Chino?
Why not the more dangerous Manny Pacquiao, the longer Amir Khan, or the bigger Sergio Martinez? Because, on his 37th birthday, Floyd Mayweather gave himself what he's always given the fans: the safest fight possible. And fans have always been dumb enough to buy his fights. Will the Showtime pay-per view on May 3--Cinco de Mayo weekend normally reserved for superfights--prove any different? Mayweather is great because he wins but he rarely wins against greats.
No fighter has marred Floyd Mayweather's record save Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather's always up to fight a fading star (Shane Moseley), a lighter-weight fighter (Juan Manuel Marquez), or a big name with small talent (Arturo Gatti). He rarely takes on a true challenge. And at 37, it's not likely that he'll start doing so anytime soon.