COMMENTARY | There's probably nothing Floyd Mayweather can really do to stop the critics from picking away at his career and legacy. It got to this point a long time ago and likely fortified his resolve in only looking after himself when it comes to his career.
To put things in perspective, there's not a major fighter out there who gives more respect to fans' wishes than their own bottom line. Boxing is a risk-reward business where all fighters -- not just the ones we happen to dislike -- cherry pick through a list of challengers to find the biggest payday for the least amount of risk.
The major stars, who have full control over their careers, are often the most guilty when it comes to picking and choosing the "right" battles at the right time.
When it comes to Mayweather, though, the criticism of this activity is louder and nastier. The attacks go beyond simple expressions of disappointment and actually aim to destroy a legacy that the five-division world champ has spent 17 years building.
Much of this aggression comes from the fact that "money" is "money," and he doesn't choose to hide who he really is and what he truly believes. Some of this nastiness, however, comes from the fight-making fiasco he had with Manny Pacquiao and the wave after wave of Internet-savvy Pacquiao fandom that has doggedly pursued him ever since the mega-bout was declared DOA.
But the question when it comes to Mayweather's dedicated critics is when, exactly, will they concede that enough's enough and stop trying to cast aspersions on nearly two decades of honest hard work.
Looking over Mayweather's resume, there's really no glaring absence -- other than Pacquiao, which by now we should all know is due to both fighters' unwillingness to come together. Mayweather has faced most everyone he should've and/or could've faced, including several fighters he had been accused of ducking.
Recently, the resume is as good as can be expected, especially considering the promotional turf war that has kept Top Rank fighters and Golden Boy fighters from facing one another.
Was it Mayweather's fault that Robert Guerrero, a top 5 welterweight on just about everyone's rankings, was made to look like a five-fight novice in their May bout? It wasn't like Mayweather was going to be able to fight a higher-ranked welterweight -- Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao, and Timothy Bradley are all Top Rank fighters and, as a result, off limits to Floyd.
Was it Mayweather's fault when another top 5 welterweight, Victor Ortiz, chose to headbutt his way to a foul-filled KO 4 loss?
And what about Miguel Cotto? Wasn't Mayweather scared spitless to fight the Puerto Rican battler, ducking him at every turn? Previously, they could never fight because of Cotto's Top Rank affiliation. But what happened the moment he became a promotional free agent? Within two months of Cotto leaving Bob Arum and company, Mayweather signed to fight him--at junior middleweight, with no catchweight clause. And what was the end result? It was a unanimous decision victory for Mayweather.
Now, none of this will matter to those already heavily invested in hating Mayweather just for the sake of hating him. To the dedicated critics, enough may never be enough. Mayweather's opposition will always be too old, too young, too flat-footed, too weak, too muscular, etc…
But what about those fair-minded critics who have not crossed the line dividing skepticism from blind hatred?
Will a solid victory over Saul Alvarez on Sept.14 be enough to stop the crusade to diminish Mayweather's legacy? Alvarez is big, young, strong, smart, and highly motivated. However, the arbitrary 152-pound catchweight clause may keep some from giving Mayweather his proper credit -- maybe rightly so.
So, then what?
More dominant wins over solid top 3 or top 5 opposition will keep making his case for all-time great consideration, but the angry criticism will persist. At this point, even a solid victory over Pacquiao would likely result in cries of, "He's too old now! He just got knocked out!"
Maybe the fair-minded individuals who are concerned with preserving a well-earned legacy should just follow Mayweather's lead. The future Hall of Famer, confident in where he's been and what he's done, stopped paying attention to the conveniently fickle critics long ago.
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.
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- Floyd Mayweather
- Manny Pacquiao