For those of us that watched Floyd Joy Mayweather Jr. coming up through the ranks, we watched one of the most naturally-gifted fighters since the young Roy Jones Jr. take on all comers in the Jr. Lightweight/Super Featherweight division. He outclassed veteran Tony Pep to earn his shot at WBC 130lb Champion Genaro Hernandez, before pitching a virtual shutout and making the once-beaten champion quit in eight rounds. Mayweather then defended his prized belt against Angel Manfredy, Justin Juuko, Carlos Gerena, Diego Corrales (R.I.P.), Carlos Hernandez, and Jesus Chavez.
Mayweather then moved up to the lightweight division and challenged its top fighter for his WBC crown, Jose Luis Castillo. He won a closely disputed decision, a decision which boxing fans (including myself) thought deserved an immediate rematch. Mayweather obliged. In the rematch he clearly outboxed Castillo and won a more clear decision (which was mysteriously closer on the scorecards) and put the critics to rest.
Mayweather fought respectable opposition in the lightweight division before moving up to the Jr. Welterweight division and beating a still-dangerous Arutro Gatti (R.I.P.) for his WBC 140 lb title. Floyd fought Henry Bruseles and DeMarcus Corley in eliminator bouts to earn his shot at Gatti. Fans (including myself) wanted him to fight 140 lb kingpin Kostya Tszyu. Mayweather never fought Tszyu. He chose instead to move up to 147 and take his shot at the linear welterweight champion Zab Judah, a stop on the road to the biggest paycheck of his career, Oscar De La Hoya.
He got his fight (and a reported $25-30 million) with De La Hoya. This marked the unquestioned end to Floyd Mayweather as a serious championship fighter, and opened the door to the era of "Money" Mayweather, the prize fighter...his prize being the money. Mayweather could have unified his welterweight title with any of the other titleists, but chose instead to oblige a disrespectful Ricky Hatton's challenge.
After Floyd handed Hatton his first loss by impressive knockout he walked away from another record payday with De La Hoya and retired. If you thought that Floyd was really retired, you may be one of the few that thought Sarah Palin was properly-qualified to be a Vice Presidential candidate.
In Floyd's absence Manny Pacquiao was crowned the pound-for-pound king after a (questionable) victory over Juan Manuel Marquez, and destructions of David Diaz, a dried-up De La Hoya, and an exposed Ricky Hatton.
When Floyd ran afoul of the IRS he announced his comeback. Juan Manuel Marquez called him out after he battered Juan Diaz. Mayweather took the challenge and won a shutout victory over the little man that gave Pacquiao fits (albeit at a lighter weight division).
Now the stage has been set for a make-shift welterweight tournament. Mayweather could fight Shane Mosely, Paul Williams, or the Pacquiao-Cotto winner. There are plenty of viable candidates at Mayweather's disposal. He spat in the face of Mosely's challenge, saying Mosely already had his chance to fight him (he really did). He has already scoffed at negotiations for a fight with Pacquiao and the uneven revenue split being offered up by Bob Arum. Mayweather is now entertaining the possibility of a fight with 19-year old Mexican prospect Saul Alvarez and a potentially sold out 100,000 seat Mexico arena, and all the money that would potentially come along with such a live gate.
I've defended Mayweather adamantly, saying his talent cannot be denied. I could understand his chase of the almighty dollar, after spending so much time fighting for short money under the Top Rank banner. Despite Mayweather hand-picking his opponents, I've felt there was a methodical plot behind every one of his movements. I've offered up the hypothetical "Manny wouldn't be able to find Mayweather" argument, and the ever poular, "Cotto would be punching air" arguments. I'm running out of patience with Mayweather, a long-time favorite of mine. The pundits are right, Mayweather is alienating his fans. I love to see a skill-based domination of another fighter. After all, boxing is about "hit-and-don't-get-hit", isn't it? But when a fighter goes so far out of his way to avoid the tangible possibility of a loss, it becomes too much to rightfully defend. Hell, even Mayweather himself couldn't defend his actions in yesterdays interview with Ra the Rugged Man, how in the hell am I supposed to continue to do so?
There are few fights that actually matter for Mayweather: Pacquiao, Mosely, Cotto, and maybe even Paul Williams. Mayweather could easily negotiate a 50-50 split with Arum (for a Pacquiao or Cotto fight). Negotiations with Mosely and Golden Boy could be done in his sleep. Should Mayweather take another light trot down easy street and fight Alvarez, you won't hear me defending his decision. You may hear me bashing Mayweather, saying "to hell" with a long-time favorite of mine.
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