If Floyd Mayweather loses to Robert Guerrero, the boxing world might have some explaining to do.
Showtime put an unprecedented amount of support behind the $200 million, six-fight contract with Money May, and the deal probably doesn’t include a “What happens if I get knocked out?” clause. Mayweather is the closest thing boxing has to a mainstream sports attraction. And his control on the circumstances that surround his fights and self-absorbed stances in negotiations for money and opponent choice would all change in defeat.
If the bully goes down, what do we do?
A scar on Mayweather’s resume creates an endless amount of possibilities. Everyone that follows sports will automatically learn more about boxing. Floyd’s place in history will change within seconds and the comparisons of him to past kings will be re-evaluated.
Of course, Guerrero would get much-deserved cred for the victory, while other young stars like Canelo Alvarez and Andre Ward would arguably step to the forefront and organically blossom as more recognizable faces.
A Mayweather loss is not the end of the world, just an end of an era. The end of the Floyd Mayweather undefeated era.
The sport did not die when Muhammad Ali lost to Leon Spinks or even Larry Holmes. Boxing did not lose traction after the Tyson ear-biting incident. Those sluggers are much bigger icons than Money May. Today, a loss to Guerrero will probably hurt Mayweather’s ego more than anything and create more drama for him and fight fans.
We won’t forget about Floyd because of a bad night at the office, just like we did not forget about Manny Pacquiao when he got knocked out cold last December. But a loss will damage Floyd’s mystique.
You see, we measure legends in boxing by their ability to perform in the ring and the strength of their opponents, but a mystique is hard to come by. Like him or not, Mayweather carries a singular venom with fight fans and his competition. He talks a big game and backs it up. Mayweather wins just like jellyfish live forever. He is boxing's invincible narcissist.
“Anything can happen in the sport of boxing.” Floyd said it himself. Through adversity and all, Floyd always wins. And the natural doubt that surrounds all of his fights keeps us intrigued. Mayweather has spoiled us with his talent for almost 20 years. He’s a hero or a villain to many. In 2002, Floyd won a close, albeit disputed, decision over Jose Luis Castillo, and a few years ago, he was badly shaken by Shane Mosley.
A loss for Floyd is historic more than anything else. Imagine the look on Mayweather’s face if Guerrero wins. Would Floyd make excuses or be gracious in defeat?
No one knows. Neither does he.
Winners win. But father time catches up to us all. He turned the season around on Roy Jones in 2004. He closed the door on Oscar De la Hoya in 2008. And some time soon, the 36-year-old Mayweather's reflexes won’t be quick enough to beat the clock. (I might be wrong. But in boxing, recent examples show unless your name is Bernard Hopkins, it makes me right.)
Remember, boxing history is full of second chances. Even for those fighters that take the idea of a second chance and multiple it by 20. In this sport, there is always a room for a comeback. If that wasn't the case, then fighters would not threaten to “retire” and magically return a few months later.
It’s hard to tell how the sport would adjust to a potential Mayweather loss next week because we are so used to watching him win. But there is no denying that we’d continue to watch to find out what happens next.