An Open Letter to Floyd Mayweather Jr
By Chris Ackerman, (May 4, 2006)
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First, congratulations on another win and for a professional performance even in the face of some unfortunate events. While a couple other names get tossed around when discussing who deserves consideration as number one in the mythical pound-for-pound rankings, yours still receives the most votes. The voices of those contesting the matter are getting louder, however, and the crux of the objection is the lack of any real opposition of late. A few analysts, and a few more fans believed Zab had the stuff, but that was wishful thinking. Nothing in his career gave any indication that he posed a threat. As near as I can figure, Jose Luis Castillo was the last guy any realist figured might have a chance against you. The year was 2002.

Roy Jones faced the same type of criticism throughout his career. I wrote a piece breaking down much of the discussion and pointing out that in the absence of such a dominant presence, most of his opponents were in fact skilled, tough and champion material. Maybe part of the problem exists because supreme talent and dedication makes others look bad in spite of level of ability. But maybe there is some truth behind the claims that Floyd Mayweather Jr. hasn’t taken a tough fight in years, and that it was a calculated choice on your part. I don’t know, but maybe.

Sure you can best any of the lesser guys from 154 south, we’ve seen it with Gatti, Mitchell, Sosa, N’dou etc…but can you beat the best at 140? Can you beat the hungry, aggressive, young and tough guys with skills? There was unfinished business at junior welterweight, but you made the move. Those guys will join you at 147 soon enough, so in the meantime can you beat the most dangerous in this division? Of course you can. Most of the fans know it, the fighters know it and the media knows it. But the longer you wait, the more tune-ups you take, the more it looks like you don’t believe it and the more ammunition your critics have.

The offer was there, but it was turned down. A lot of people cried ‘Chicken Floyd’ at the news that Bob Arum’s massive purse offer for the Margarito fight was rejected and your promotional contract bought out. That was the final proof they needed to cement their case that you’ve ducked every difficult opponent since Castillo gave you a workout three and a half years ago. Others suggest you are holding out for a mega payday fight with Oscar de la Hoya this fall, and that a fight in between would make that impossible.

Based on your history it is much easier to believe this was a business decision than otherwise. On the surface it would seem your business sense has carried you well, as you remain undefeated, (alphabet soup issues aside) you’ve held belts in four divisions, and are a multi-millionaire who is considered the best pound for pound fighter of the day. Now you’ve maneuvered yourself into a position to cash in as opponent for Oscar de la Hoya’s retirement party. Maybe. The question is, why has a fighter of such a rare caliber been feeding on scraps and in need of a past-his-prime mega star to cash in large?

I think you know the answer already. You are the best fighter in the world yet have not been and are not now, nearly the PPV draw you could be. Why? Attitude and choices. It’s basically that simple. There have been a lot of actions, quotes, incidents and interviews that have negatively affected your appeal. I am not saying change who you are, but if you wonder why the gangsta shit ain’t endearing you to fans and marketers it’s because we all live in the adult world. All the rocks, the entourage, and the whole bone thug identity and association is tired and made more annoying by the fact that you are above it. You have what it takes to become a historical figure in the sport but you gotta chase it, and that means making alterations to an approach that hasn’t been working.

If you want people to stop saying you are the next Ray Leonard you need to step up and realize that being the most talented isn’t enough to get your own legend status. Being cocky and havin’ a swagger is a good thing, but crossover superstardom starts with conducting yourself as an ambassador for the sport. The post Gatti fight interview gave us hope. That same kind of humility and grace was again on display during and immediately after the Judah fight. If that continues people will very soon be referring to up and comers as the next Floyd Mayweather. A man with enough talent can afford diamonds. Add a personality the public can embrace and that same man can afford diamond mines.

Do you want people to whisper your name in reverence? Do you want there to be an awed hush whenever you enter a room? Do you want to forevermore be treated like a god by fans, media and fighters alike…and do you want to look in the mirror and know you earned it? Well your chances of that happening are slipping away. The clock is ticking on the physical gifts and with every soft touch another legion of fans gets that much more disillusioned. The money and the respect are all abandoning you Floyd. They are being replaced by questions, second-guessing and even disgust.

But this isn’t about them. This is about you, your name, your legacy and, most importantly, this is about the sport of boxing. Diamonds aren’t a man’s best friend. Sometimes a man has to be his own best friend and take objective stock of what he has and what he values. Do you value another watch or another Escalade, or do you value the idea of being called peer by guys like Roberto Duran and Julio Caesar Chavez?

You need to pick a fight and do it double quick. Pick a guy some people don’t think you can beat. Be charming and charismatic…and beat him. Then do it again and again until you can’t do it any more. Don’t keep creepin’ up in weight and fighting the second tier guys there, it proves nothing and there are ready-made excuses. If the opponent wins, he was too big. Oscar’s head would look great over your mantle and his name would add some sparkle to your resume, but he ain’t the man anymore. Sure, that fight will push the decimal place on your bank balance a couple digits to the right but at what cost?

The mantra “If it makes dollars, it makes sense” is real catchy and cutesy but by adopting that type of silly, juvenile prima donna nonsense you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Everyone wants the De La Hoya fight because with him comes the scratch. If you had made different choices in the last three years it could have been you bringing it. Just a minor adjustment to the credo is all it would take. “If it makes sense, it will make dollars.” It makes sense to fight Ricky Hatton. It makes sense to fight Miguel Cotto. It makes sense to fight Antonio Margarito. For the least known of them, you were offered 8 million. How much would it be for the next one after you got the win? 12? And after that? You’re the promoter now; you’re free from having anyone else call the shots and collecting a huge chunk. Pretty Boy Promotions presents Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus…? Has a nice ring to it doesn’t it….

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