05-08-2012, 10:29 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Apache Juntion, AZ
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is Back in Superfight Driver’s Seat
By Lyle Fitzsimmons
I got an e-mail from an old friend yesterday.
“I made this statement to a colleague earlier today,” it said.
“Mayweather’s an all-timer. I just thought I'd share.”
Hardly an Earth-shattering proclamation on its own, but in context it represents a dramatic shift.
A music guru who dabbles in boxing, the friend had been an entrenched member of the “OK, Floyd's pretty good, but he's beatable ... and I don't like him” club for as long as I've known him.
He was among the misguided who thought the late Arturo Gatti had a chance to do more than bleed, fall and surrender against Mayweather a few years back in Atlantic City.
And he's included a caveat with every pro-Money pick since, wistfully pining “I'd be happy to be wrong” before admitting that the foe – from Baldomir and Judah to Mosley and Ortiz – had little chance.
The same was true over the weekend.
Bless his heart, my pal approached Saturday night’s main event with his recurring brand of hopeful zeal and he carried it proudly through the ring intros – where the always-sturdy Cotto looked properly grim and clearly contentious upon hearing the “touch gloves” admonition from referee Tony Weeks.
Poor guy, I felt kinda bad for him.
Because the more I think about it – and regardless of any “I've seen the light” e-mails since – the more I have to shake my head toward anyone who expected anything other than a gutty and effective performance from Mayweather, or cringe at those who walked away from it with anything other than a “Now I get it, Floyd's the best” mindset.
Even the ardent Cotto fans – the ones who insisted Mayweather cherry-picked past foes and was incapable of handling an elite who’d try to rough him up – had to walk out of the MGM Grand firmly comprehending their guy, while game and gritty, had come out on the short end of a street fight.
And it's not because Cotto's all that bad.
But because Floyd is just that good.
In fact, the only ones still reticent to believe are blind faith followers of a certain Filipino belt-hoarder, a crowd somehow maintaining Mayweather has sidestepped their guy and insisting that their man’s last-round TKO of Cotto 30 months ago – in spite of a dubious catch-weight mandate by a certain asset-covering promoter – was somehow superior to a decisive victory at nine pounds heavier.
In the end, as the new champ said afterward, it’s just Arum being Arum.
But hey, I'm no fool. I understand the economics.
The Top Rank conglomerate had everything to gain with a Cotto surprise – perhaps setting up a nice, safe rematch at another concocted scale number – and everything to lose if Mayweather not only beat the WBA champion as expected, but beat him up to boot.
The latter provides the company’s arch nemesis clear pound-for-pound leverage – namely an increasing flow of positive public opinion – to demand that the fight with Pacquiao be made once and for all on his terms, with his testing demands and with his split of the proceeds.
In other words, it’s a perfect storm of reality for Arum.
While his prized possession made a welterweight name with blowouts of flawed targets coming off defining losses – Pacquiao’s last seven opponents were a combined 19-8-1 with three KO defeats in their four lead-in fights – Mayweather foes over the same stretch include four reigning champions, two who’d not lost in this century and none who’d been stopped in the fight’s scheduled weight class.
And unlike the cash-grabbers and no-hopers who’d sell souls and concede details to get a spot on a Top Rank poster, Mayweather is fully aware of his bargaining position and has no urgency to accommodate.
He said he wants the fight. He said he’ll take the fight.
But he won’t back down just to get it made.
And the more time passes, the more fans are thinking he shouldn’t have to.
Especially when the 40 in 60/40 still means more than they’ll make in 10 lifetimes, and the needle prick is no more intrusive than the typical minimum-wage job requirement.
Come June 9, after beating a guy with precisely one lead-in fight above 140 since 2007, it’ll be interesting to see what tack the traditionally parrot-like Pacquiao – trained to chirp the “I fight who my promoter tells me to” mantra – decides to take in response to Mayweather’s verbal gauntlet.
If he breaks script, we might have a fun December after all.
If not, at least for ol’ Bob’s sake, try to act excited for Marquez IV.