A Mayweather risk could gain him rewards
By Rob Scott (November 19, 2005) 
Photo © HoganPhotos.com
When it comes to the mind state of a fighter and that of a fan, we will always find a definite difference. This weekend we will see ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather Jr., 34-0 (23), the fighter perceived by many to be the very best in the game, once again step into the ring on HBO, as he makes a welterweight appearance against former 140lb world champion, Sharmba ‘Little Big Man’ Mitchell, 56-4 (30), from the Rose Garden in Portland Oregon. It’s a fight that leaves some fight fans and critics asking, why? Why is Mayweather facing the perceived washed-up Mitchell instead of someone like undisputed welterweight champion Zab ‘Super’ Judah? Why isn’t he going in with a Ricky Hatton, an Antonio Margarito or even taking that proposed fight with #1 middleweight contender Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright? These are questions that many have inquired about and want to know the answer to.

From the viewer’s perspective these are fair questions as they are the ones who watch the fights and want to see the very best against the very best, but there is a definite realization that boxing is not only a sport, but also a business. The words ‘if it doesn’t make dollars – then it doesn’t make sense’ has become an often-used saying that Mayweather himself has uttered time after time. From the vantage point of this writer, both Mayweather and the viewers themselves are right of their assessments. The question is just how much?

While at home, I recently put the DVD in of the ‘99 Hasim Rahman vs. Oleg Maskaev match-up and took notice of a debate of sought between Roy Jones Jr. and Larry Merchant. Merchant expressed his thoughts on a fighter’s obligation to take chances, while Jones, who was speaking from a fighter’s standpoint, saw things through different eyes and even blamed Rahman’s subsequent loss as a consequence for taking such chances by fighting Maskaev instead of boxing him.

Now we all know that Jones has played the cautious role to an undesirable degree, but I did get his point. His point was that the measure of accomplishment has to coincide or exceed the risk. In comparing this theory with Mayweather, I can’t help but ask what exactly does Mayweather want? Yes, ‘if it doesn’t make dollars – then it doesn’t makes sense’, but at this stage Mayweather can make more dollars and cents if he takes the necessary risks.

Let’s think of an Oscar De La Hoya, who Mayweather has always thought about. Those thoughts have been that he is a more skilful fighter and he deserved the type of purses that De La Hoya rakes in. The skilful part gets no argument from me and deep down I don’t think De La Hoya himself feels differently. Getting the amount of money that De La Hoya collects is another belief entirely. The phrase ‘you can’t get water from a rock’ comes to mind, as fans have been that rock and haven’t showered Mayweather with the De La Hoya type purses that he really wants. In order for that to happen Mayweather has to put butts in the seats.

Don’t get me wrong; four million a pop is no chump change though, as Mayweather is making a decent pay for what he does. The problem is deep down, just like his record label is called, he wants to be ‘filthy rich’. He wants to be De La Hoya rich.

He may be able to get more, but at this stage of the game, he isn’t a soloist. Even DeLaHoya himself was forced to pick up the level of opponents, as the Trinidad, Quartey and Mosley were added to his resume. But to this point we have been treated to boxing’s version of the three-way truths. It’s been Mayweather’s version, his opponents’ versions and the ‘real’ truth. The real truth is everyone wants to be a star and get paid star money, but neither Mayweather nor his potential opponents will gain riches in the De La Hoya realm until the haggling stops and they face one another.

Who’s right and who’s wrong? It really doesn’t matter, because as long as the nitpicking resumes, the fans won’t see the fights they want. Have you ever heard the saying ‘the customer is always right’? If these guys believe that just a little bit, then they will give them what they want. Mayweather vs. Judah, Hatton and others are ones that should take place now – not years from now, when we will all be years older.

Stars hate the paparazzi and the media in their business. Floyd, being pound-for-pound is just like being a Hollywood star – certain expectations come with it. If you are perceived as the best in the game, then certain fights are expected to take place. The measure of accomplishment should coincide or exceed the risk. A victory over Mitchell will give you a win, but a risk in fighting Judah next should give us all a reward.
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