It’s almost as if Floyd Mayweather Jr. craves negative attention or something. Isn’t it? How else can you explain his recent comments to ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael regarding his next opponent?
That’s right; the preeminent fighter in the sport, the undefeated savant, the best boxer of a generation and self-proclaimed “best ever” wants to fight either Andre Berto or Karim Mayfield next, presumably in September.
Let’s treat this as seriously as we can for at least a few more seconds.
Mayweather is the lineal champion at welterweight and junior middleweight as well as a holder of numerous alphabet titles in both weight classes. Both Berto and Mayfield are welterweights. Neither holds a world title.
While various dubious sanctioning organizations might say otherwise here or there, neither fighter is actually a legitimate contender. Neither is ranked by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board or the Ring Magazine in the top 10 at welterweight or any other weight class.
So if we are to take Mayweather at his word, we are to believe that Mayweather, the undefeated welterweight champion and No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, would like to fight someone who isn’t even a ranked contender to earn victory No. 49.
That’s not just stupid for him to suggest. It’s downright shameful. Neither Berto nor Mayfield has any business being in the ring with Mayweather unless he is his sparring partner.
Neither has done anything to warrant the fight, and neither possesses any attribute that would lead any reasonable or sane person to conclude he could give Mayweather any trouble at all.
So let’s assume Mayweather isn’t stupid and shameful as it seems he wants us to believe. It’s hard to think of a man such as he, a man who has been so ridiculously successful in the sport of boxing, as anything but savvy in his chosen trade. Isn’t it?
So let’s assume Mayweather is smart and savvy and just saying these types of things for some logical reason. And since neither Berto nor Mayfield deserves a shot at Mayweather by logic’s standard, we can conclude it isn’t because he’s seriously considering a bout against either of them.
Feeling stumped? Me too.
Mayweather might possibly being saying Berto or Mayfield is next is to plant the seed of disappointment in the public’s heart now so that when he makes his real choice, one that hopefully comes from a legitimate list of contenders, people will be happy with the fight no matter whom he picks.
The list of logical contenders is presently a short one. Mayweather just soundly whipped Manny Pacquiao, and while a rematch might someday be in order, it will have to wait until Pacquiao recovers from recent shoulder surgery.
So let’s move on down the list.
Mayweather’s best competition at 147 pounds is the undefeated Kell Brook. Other potential candidates include Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan and Keith Thurman. Out of those fighters, though, the tea leaves seem to point toward Mayweather fighting Khan next.
Brook might be the best challenge to the throne, but he doesn’t quite have the star power yet to warrant the risk. Bradley is represented by Mayweather nemesis Bob Arum and doesn’t have the resume to suggest a bout against Money would generate enough money for the two contentious sides to work together again so soon after Mayweather-Pacquiao.
And Keith Thurman seems forever stuck in the purgatory that Al Haymon created with his Premier Boxing Champions series. He’ll fight guys like Robert Guerrero and Luis Collazo for the foreseeable future, with many left wondering why he’s not being positioned for a big-time pay-per-view bout.
Mayweather is also the champion at 154 pounds. Since he’s already bested Canelo Alvarez, the best option there is probably Cuban southpaw Erislandy Lara. His long arms (74" reach) and careful style could give Mayweather fits. But again, Mayweather isn’t the type to risk bouts against tough outs unless it comes along with absurd purse sizes.
Mayweather-Lara wouldn’t generate enough cash for that.
And yes, if Mayweather were really the best ever, or "TBE" as he so often proclaims, he would probably look toward making a showdown with undefeated middleweight monster Gennady Golovkin. Smaller men in boxing have fought larger, and they did so without claiming their superiority over all other fighters ever.
But there’s nothing in Mayweather’s long history of careful matchmaking that suggests he wants any part of Golovkin. And he’s been dismissive of all suggestions otherwise.
So here we are now. Mayweather is talking about Berto and Mayfield, but he’s really probably just considering Khan. And he’s a smart guy. Don’t let anyone fool you about Floyd. He’s sharp. He knows the general boxing public will let out a collective yawn when Mayweather-Khan is announced for September, and he wants to get out ahead of it.
Mayweather might believe the yawn will be less loud and come along with less angst and indignation now that he’s floated out bouts against no-hopers like Berto and Mayfield.
He must believe that, and he must also believe the boxing public is dumb enough to not notice the setup.
But as smart as Mayweather is at his chosen profession, he’s wrong about this one thing: Boxing fans are smart. They pay greater attention to detail than those of any other sport, and they know and accept that their sport is akin to a carnival. They’re savvy to the games fighters and promoters play, and they don't like being duped.
No one believes Mayweather will actually end up fighting Berto or Mayfield, so all Mayweather is doing by suggesting otherwise is giving fuel to his most ardent critics and making a mockery of his own career. Come to think of it, that’s stupid and shameful too.
Mayweather must love negative attention.
Kelsey McCarson also contributes to TheSweetScience.com and BoxingChannel.tv. Undefeated junior middleweight Jermell Charlo punched him numerous times last year for charity.