|It’s Time To Vacate, Floyd - Boxing
By Debbie Wagner (Jan 29, 2008) Doghouse Boxing
When a fighter like Floyd Mayweather Jr. has everything going for him, expectations run hot and cold. To some, there is little to expect because he’s done it all. To others, there is a lot more to expect because he hasn’t done it all or, to be adventurously critical, he refuses to do it all.
By most, Mayweather is the legitimate welterweight champion of the world and by many, he doesn’t deserve the courtesy. Since beating Carlos Baldomir for the crown, Mayweather hasn’t defended one single welterweight
contender to date. Since then, Mayweather has faced and beaten Oscar De La Hoya for the WBC super welterweight title and the naturally smaller world junior welter champ Ricky Hatton. Now, it seems very likely that ‘Money’ Mayweather’s next fight will be a rematch against ‘The Golden Boy’ in September.
So where are all the welters lined up for the belt?
They’re fighting among themselves to make the best of a lame situation; that’s where. And there are many to choose from and if you ask a random handful of fans, odds are, you’ll get mixed responses as to who they think the ‘real’ reigning champion is. Just ask trainer Emanuel Steward, who did commentary during HBO’s telecast of WBA titlist Miguel Cotto’s defense against ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley. During the broadcast, by his own enthusiasm for Cotto, Steward challenged fellow commentator Max Kellerman’s unspoken support of The Ring magazine’s policy that calls Mayweather champion.
And why not? Whatever you might think about Cotto’s opposition since beating
Carlos Quintana for the vacant WBA belt, at least his victims were actual welterweights. Cotto doesn’t seem to duck the challenges either. His vulnerable times in the ring are less criticized and more embraced because he suffers through them and perseveres. Just think Cotto-Ricardo Torres at junior welter or Cotto-Zab Judah at welter.
Kermit Cintron’s road as a beltholder is unique too for his next option is a defense against his sole conqueror Antonio Margarito. When Margarito stopped Cintron in 2005, he held the WBO’s version of the belt while Cintron held the NABF belt and an ‘interim’ belt the WBO gave him for beating Teddy Reid. At the time, and up until Margarito was beaten by current titlist Paul ‘The Punisher’ Williams, ‘The Tijuana Tornado’ (sez Steve Kim from Maxboxing) was perceived by fans as the most feared man in the welterweight division. In a weird twist, now Williams believes he is, as do many of his supporters, and now-IBF titleholder Cintron, trained by Steward, is granting Margarito a shot at his belt. A true power shift but all done among real welterweight titlists and contenders.
Yes, Mayweather is the recognized world champion but you can see why debate is so fervent.
So, what good is a world championship to a champion that doesn’t want to defend it against the class he represents? Very little. It just sits around on a shelf collecting dust with all the other belts or being displayed by an entourage en route to another multi-million dollar payday against a fighter who has no bearing in his division. So what if Mayweather’s defense is against De La Hoya? That’s only if De La Hoya makes the 147-pound weight limit and that doesn’t mean at all that he’ll actually box like he should against Mayweather. Weight or not, a giant paycheck is around the corner and who cares about contenders who deserve their day?
If you read The Ring and support it or if you don’t, one thing’s clear on their end. They don’t want a fighter who isn’t doing his job to continue sitting on a belt he won’t defend. You might believe that. You might not. Another thing is clear; there are plenty others who want that recognition of being the man to beat. They need that opportunity.
When Paulie Ayala held the recognized world junior featherweight championship, he didn’t defend it either. He chose not to give Clarence ‘Bones’ Adams a rematch probably because the fight he won the title in was their second fight. Ayala probably figured no one would care to see a rubbermatch. Ayala moved up to 126 and faced Erik Morales for the vacant WBC featherweight title. After losing to Morales, Ayala stuck around featherweight to beat Edel Ruiz and decide to vacate his championship before losing to Marco Antonio Barrera. Ayala then retired but at least his old belt was up for grabs once more.
No one’s saying that Mayweather should retire. He should fill the expectations that are asked of him or exceed the expectations that are not. Why not give up the belt? Mayweather won the championship. That’s good enough if he won’t defend it against the deserving. It’s ok. Champions have done the same before; why not now? If Mayweather weren’t champion, would he be half as criticized as he is now for his current one-on-one accomplishments? I doubt it.
To be fair, this isn’t just a poke-poke at Mayweather. Well, yeah, maybe it is, but not all the way. Think about Bernard Hopkins who’s seen as the world light heavyweight champion today. Hopkins beat Antonio Tarver for the belt but waited a year to defend against Winky Wright, a totally, naturally undersized fighter. You could make an argument that he’s older but he needs to live up to his expectations and obligations and face some real light heavy contenders also. Maybe that Zsolt Erdei guy can finally get the chance to make his claim stick, right?
It’s a world championship and not a tennis bracelet, guys.
So, what do you think, fellas? How about giving someone else a chance to ride? There’s less pressure in the end and maybe you’ll even get the chance to win it back. Sounds like a win-win.
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