Mayweather & Judah – These bad boys are good
By Rob Scott (July 9, 2005) 
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Whether it’s blatant or whether it’s subliminal boxing promoters, journalists and the media as a whole always set the tone on how fighters are perceived.  Before the WBC super lightweight title fight between ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather and Arturo ‘Thunder’ Gatti, fellow writer and good friend, Lem Satterfield of the Baltimore Sun penned a great story on the unfair disparity in HBO’s half hour pre-fight show. Satterfield’s piece hit the nail on the head about how the network and the media persistently brought to light the outside the ring imperfections of Mayweather and ignored the spotted occurrences in Gatti’s existence.

It’s not the first and it definitely won’t be the last time that unfair characterizations have taken flight. I can remember back in ‘96 when Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield were set to clash for the WBA heavyweight championship; it mirrored the Mayweather/Gatti build-up in the sense that there was that good guy/bad guy overtone to it. Tyson played the role of the convicted rapist and all around Bad Boy, while Holyfield was portrayed as the God Fearing Warrior. The degree in which the media made these references gave off a sense that we could have just as easily had changed the names of the fighters from Tyson vs. Holyfield to Night vs. Day.

We all know that there were no sinless fighters in that ring that night. We all know that boxing isn’t a sinless sport.  We all know/knew this so much that when the Tyson /Holyfield fight took place I found myself saying, and not to be a pun, “He amongst us without sin – May they cast the first stone”. The problem has been that even though many don’t have the right to throw stones, they hurl verbal boulders like a basketball player making a pass, only to hit a player in the head that is looking in the other direction.

The pen has been a powerful tool that has made some fighters the darlings of the sport, while that same power has vilified others to no end.  The media has altered an old childhood saying in a sense, where sticks and stones may still hurt your bones, but words can do a great deal of damage as well. Two fighters that have had this media tag of boxing bad boys are undisputed welterweight champion Zab ‘Super’ Judah, 34-2 (25), and the newly crowned WBC super lightweight champ Mayweather, 34-0 (23). From Judah’s in ring tirade in ‘01 after his defeat to Kostya Tszyu; to Mayweather calling an HBO offer “a slave contract”, shaking the media’s stigmatic views have been their hardest bout.

Both have had their critics, but to a large degree, like others, a starting point to their problems really began in the minds of people who sought past greats within them. I think back to when Allen Iverson first entered the NBA; he came with tattoos, street persona and his own brushes with the law – while people were looking for a ‘Mr. Nice Guy’. You could hear cries of “He’s no Michael Jordan”. That was just it; he never wanted to be a Michael Jordan – he just wanted to be Allen Iverson. Mayweather and Judah’s brash, boastful way of being is one of the things that make them who they are.  Mayweather just wants to be Mayweather. Judah just wants to be Judah. Both want to be universally recognized superstars; but do they have to have the good guy persona of a ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard to achieve this?

What you get is what you get with these two fighters. Just like Allen Iverson, Judah and Mayweather can’t and won’t be denied their due. We continually look for the second coming of a Leonard, but Leonard is the past. With Judah being 27 years old, and Mayweather at a short eight months older, these two are the future.

The future will surely one day pit the two together. How will they market that fight, I wonder, ‘The battle of the bad boys’? They actually can do just that, because these two are bad in every good sense of the word.
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