On May 7th, “Sugar” Shane Mosley will step into the ring to face current pound-for-pound champion Manny Pacquiao. While the promotional parties involved try to drum up interest in the fight, there’s a question looming above the proceedings like a old drunk at a high school prom. It’s a simple one: “Why isn’t Mayweather fighting Pacquiao instead?”
Many will say it is due to the current legal problems Mayweather is facing. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Mayweather has had plenty of chances to come to terms with all interested parties in order to make what would be the biggest fight in boxing history. He’s decided against it every time, even when Pacquiao finally gave in to the demands of Team Mayweather.
With Floyd, there always seems to be an excuse as to why he can’t fight Pacquiao, no matter what he may say in his next shot-from-home video. The fact is, he doesn’t want to risk the chance of losing his perfect record.
Odds are, he can beat Pacquiao. He is a better defensive fighter than Pacquiao is an offensive fighter. He is at least the equal of Pacquiao in terms of speed and conditioning. But still, he, and the world know that Pacquiao presents him with his biggest challenge, and the biggest risk to his undefeated record.
That is a risk he doesn’t want to take.
He could be lobbying, right now, for a fight with Pacquiao. It would not be as hard as everyone imagines. He could choose to be transparent in the proceedings and put everything on the table as far as contractual concerns. This would keep the boxing world interested in the fight, and ready to buy it, should Pacquiao keep on winning. He says he came out of retirement because the world of boxing needs him. What the world of boxing really needs is for him to step up.
Great fighters of past generations have always found ways to make great fights happen, because they wanted bragging rights. And they wanted those bragging rights to be founded in the truth that comes with winning the fight against an excellent opponent. Mayweather clearly thinks that he is owed bragging rights over opponents he has yet to face.
He claims openly that he is the greatest boxer in history. He says he is better than Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, and so on and so on. Well, all of those fighters would have found a way to fight Pacquiao a long time ago, no matter what legal battles were going on in their lives.
One gets the feeling that if it were possible, Mayweather would try to take Pacquiao to court and have himself declared the winner of the fight without ever stepping into the ring in the first place. No doubt he would try to sue Pacquiao for the legal fees and inconvenience as well.
Someone needs to remind Floyd that a swagger is a silly walk for someone with such a long way to go. If he does not make this fight happen, he will be known as the guy who didn’t want to fight Pacquiao, for the rest of his life. It will wipe out all of his past accomplishments.
When a fighter as great as Floyd Mayweather Jr – and he is great – puts all his energies into dodging fights, it is not in the service of the sport, it is in service to something else, within him.
Should his legal problems be settled out of court (which they no doubt will be), he has the ways and means to set up an agreeable fight with Pacquiao the very next day. The fight would be the biggest gate in boxing history, and it would crush pay-per-view records, granting both men their biggest purse to date. They could split it down the middle and they would still be wildly rich, both in money and attention, something that Mayweather loves more than anything.
But that is not going to happen. Mayweather will make the ridiculous argument that he should get anywhere from 60% to 75% of any purse in a fight with Pacquiao, which will stall the fight even more. After that, he will find another point to rail on, and so it will go, until either Pacquiao retires, or until he is finally beaten by larger foe. Both of those considerations serve Mayweather handily: he can claim that Pacquiao retired because he was afraid to fight him, or that Pacquiao was never that good anyway, since he lost to whatever opponent that finally manages to bring enough height, weight and power into the ring. Everyone has a ceiling, and when Pacquiao finally finds his, Mayweather will begin shouting from the rooftops.
In the end, Mayweather needs to remember that no one cares about what he says he would do to Pacquiao in a fight. We want to see it.
Instead of facing Pacquiao in the ring, he’d rather mix it up with the security guards of his gated community. For a boxer as great as Mayweather to be fighting so hard to avoid a fight, it is nothing more or less than conduct unbecoming.