COMMENTARY | Could boxing's resident pound-for-pound king and all-purpose bad guy have hand-selected an heir to his cash-heavy throne?
Recently, Floyd Mayweather posted a video on his official Facebook page showing a clip of a dinner conversation between him and current WBC lightweight champ, Adrien Broner.
Apparently, the two championship fighters spent some time together in Mayweather's adopted hometown of Las Vegas and were then planning on a visit to Broner's stomping grounds of Cincinnati, Ohio. Also, from the looks of it, the two got along famously.
The video showed Mayweather playing mentor to "Baby Bro," giving advice on how to properly put a rubber band around a stack of cash and generally acting the part of calm, reasonable father figure to the 23-year-old talent.
"The ultimate goal," Mayweather told Broner, "is to get you to that level where it don't matter who you're going in [the ring] with."
Mayweather also talked about putting Broner on the undercard of his May 4 pay-per-view and allowing HBO's 24/7 pre-fight series to go behind the scenes and "see how Adrien Broner really lives."
The video, itself, is really just a bit of fluff, barely worth the space devoted to it in this column, but there are much bigger issues at play here.
Mayweather's ring talent and boxing expertise are beyond debate-- He is a master boxer and definitely one of this era's very best. To say any less would be pure denial or sheer ignorance. But, in terms of outside-the-ring conduct and having a fan-conscious fighter's attitude, the five-division world champ has been a dismal failure.
Aside from the domestic abuse charges, which led to a two-month jail sentence earlier this year, and the various other altercations in his life, Mayweather has also been the poster boy for frivolous wasting of money. The fighter has spent the better part of that last five years or so making it rain in night clubs, betting massive amounts of money on sporting events, and otherwise doing recklessly silly things with large chunks of money. He's been living as though a fighter's money is an endless source and that the well will never run dry.
Of course, those of us who have followed the sport know that this is not the case. The richest of boxers often find themselves dead broke after no longer being able to fight. Mayweather, despite making as much as $40 million per fight, is still living paycheck to paycheck. Unlike his Filipino arch-nemesis, Manny Pacquiao, he doesn't have any endorsement deals, production deals, or any other irons in the fire. His Mayweather Promotions "company" is still unlicensed and pretty much DOA.
And, in terms of fan recognition and appreciation, Mayweather claims the opposite, but the truth is that he likely cares little about what the fans actually say or think. From the way that he has conducted his career thus far, it appears that he only loves to stroke the fan base that sees him as a celebrity and he pays little attention to the hardcore fight fans who have actually made him the celebrity.
So, now, he's passing down the seeds of disconnect to the next generation of fighter. But, whereas Mayweather became the Mayweather of today well after having established himself as a superstar in the ring, Broner is getting the indoctrination well before he has earned his spot among the best and the brightest.
It's obvious from his ring style and general attitude that Broner has a great appreciation for Mayweather. Over the last couple of years, Broner has morphed into a mini-Floyd, both in fighting style and lifestyle. This face time with Floyd will only enforce this esteem and appreciation.
So, is a monster being groomed?
What happens to an impressionable young talent being mentored in the art of entitlement before actually earning the right to feel entitled? If Mayweather's 2012 mindset somehow gets transferred into the 23-year-old Broner's head, fans could be in for some truly disappointing, fight-killing drama over the next several years.
Mayweather was, at one point, a world class fighter, first and foremost. He put on entertaining battles and truly pushed his skills in the ring to dominate and destroy his foes. The Mayweather of the "Money" era is now one who reluctantly returns to boxing whenever he needs some more "rain" money for strip club photo-ops. And, while he's still brilliant in the ring, he's generally not pushing for the win anymore. He simply does what he has to do to win. This is good for him, but bad for the money-paying public. There is no doubt that Mayweather's lust for celebrity has tamed his passion for the sport.
The fear is that Broner will develop this same attitude, but even before the world gets to see the brilliance he has inside.
"The Problem" should clean up the lightweight division and then wade into the deep waters of junior welterweight, where his star will truly be made. The fan-friendly possible match-ups at 140 lbs. are endless. But, if carrying a case of Mayweather celebrity entitlement, Broner's rise to greatness will be bogged down in ego conflicts, money issues, and personal indifference.
This mentality has robbed us of at least five years of Mayweather's full potential. If 23-year-old Broner gets buried in this mindset, we could lose out on seeing an entire career of full potential.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.