COMMENTARY | How you view Floyd Mayweather depends a lot on how you see the sport of boxing and how you define an athlete's role in the sport.
Those with a more pragmatic, business-like approach to the boxing world, tend to be able to cut Mayweather some slack for his current stance of no Pacquiao fight unless it's completely on his own terms. On the other hand, those with a romantic, nostalgic view of the sport only see Mayweather as someone standing in the way of a bout that could, finally, get made.
Looking at it like that, it's easy to understand why the five-division world champ and current pound-for-pound best can be loved by so many fans, yet hated by just as many, if not more.
Throughout the four years of back and forth nonsense involved in trying to make the mega-fight, Mayweather and Pacquiao have exchanged blame for the failure to get together. However, the truth of the matter is that neither side of this fiasco is as innocent as they claim and both bear considerably more blame than they care to accept.
Now, though, Mayweather is fine with putting himself out there as the bad guy and as the one keeping 50-50 negotiations from happening.
The way Mayweather sees things, he is now the sport's undisputed PPV king as well as the undisputed pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. Manny, on the other hand, is 1-2 in his last three bouts, no longer a world champ, and is coming off a poorly received, poor-selling PPV event. So, according to business man Mayweather, Pacquiao is no longer his equal to be dealt with on equal terms. Pacquiao has to come to him, hat in hand, and be willing to make some major concessions before even being considered a worthwhile possibility.
From a business perspective, Mayweather is a hundred percent right.
If Pacquaio were the one sitting pretty and Mayweather just rebounding off some tough times, you can bet that for any talks to begin, Mayweather would have to bring himself humbly to the table with a willingness to fight on Manny's terms. It wouldn't be much of a stretch to assume that Mayweather would even have to, at least temporarily, fight under Pacquiao's Top Rank promotional banner.
Away from boxing, a dominant company at the head of its industry wouldn't be badgered into bending over backwards to facilitate a business deal that would benefit its chief competitor. A McDonalds that works its way to the no. 1 spot in the fast food industry would never enter into a business deal that would graciously benefit no. 2, Burger King.
Mayweather is in the odd spot of having claimed his undisputed no. 1 position after so many years of neck and neck competition with Pacquiao, only to have fans and media demand that he make the concessions needed to put together a bout with Pacquiao. Obviously, Mayweather balks at this notion and, as a fighter concerned with the business bottom line, he has every right to put the brakes on this type of thinking.
As a competitor engaged in sport, though, Mayweather hasn't a leg to stand on.
Yes, he's no.1 and Pacquiao is well behind him in all areas at the moment. But in his realistic weight range, Pacquiao is right below Mayweather and is the only opponent, at this point, really worth fighting.
A top fighter has to take on the next best. That's all there is to it. Business, politics, and egos be damned, there's nobody but Pacquiao for Mayweather (and vice versa). One strains to even imagine a suitable substitute.
Mayweather, as a sportsman, will forever be hounded by the fact that he never faced his next closest competitor. And since he seems likely to finish his career above Pacquiao in terms of fame and money generation, most of the guilt will be assigned to Mayweather. Whether that's wrong or right, it's just the way history will remember both fighters' last years. They will remember Pacquiao's appearance of pursuit and Mayweather's latest stance of defiance.
So, this all boils down to Mayweather.
Floyd, the business man, can retire without guilt, sure in the fact that he did what he had to do and made sane, reasonable decisions throughout his career.
Floyd, the athlete, will be leaving unfinished business. Like the legendary Lakers had they never met the Boston Celtics, Mayweather's legend will forever be tempered by the fact that he never faced his personal measuring stick of greatness.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and is the author of Notes from the Boxing Underground. 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.
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