Floyd Mayweather Jr. needs some advice – good advice – because he's obviously not getting much of it these days.
He's one of the primary reasons, along with Manny Pacquiao, Bob Arum, Leonard Ellerbe, Al Haymon and Richard Schaefer, that the most anticipated boxing match in at least 25 years isn't going to happen on March 13, and is likely never to happen.
The failure to make the fight between the two men regarded as the best in the world is going to have a devastating short-term impact upon the sport. Mayweather looks like a bully for trying to force a drug-testing regimen on Pacquiao that is not standard for boxing protocol. Pacquiao looks like he has something to hide by refusing.
Schaefer, Arum, Haymon and Ellerbe look like oafish boobs. They were given a winning Powerball ticket and, in arguing over who got to cash it, let it slip through their fingers and into the sewer. Long-term, boxing will be fine, because there will be other fights that will eventually stir the souls of those who love the sport.But now, the customers are angry and they're going to let the powers that be know it.
That's why Mayweather is so desperately in need of good advice. It appears that he's edging close to a deal to fight Nate Campbell at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on the same March 13 date that he was going to fight Pacquiao.
That, by the way, is the same night that Pacquiao will fight Joshua Clottey in Dallas.
Campbell is a good fighter, but he's been a lifelong lightweight who fought only a handful of times at super lightweight. He's fought 40 times as a professional and has weighed under 140 pounds in every one of them.
Mayweather is a welterweight, and has been for more than four years. He was the long-time pound-for-pound kingpin, and lost that throne only when he temporarily retired in the summer of 2008.
He's so good that in a recent issue of Ring Magazine, an article suggested he would defeat Hall of Famer Henry Armstrong and narrowly lose to the great Sugar Ray Robinson. That may be ludicrous – Robinson and Armstrong are the two greatest pound-for-pound fighters in the history of the sport – but it is an indication of the esteem with which Mayweather is held in the boxing community.
And this is where he needs a little good advice:
Fight a welterweight, for God's sake.
The public has had enough of him fighting lightweights and super lightweights. He owes the public the best bout he can give it after being a part of the destruction of the bout the world so desperately wanted to see.
He should be facing Paul Williams, the lanky super welterweight who insists he can still make 147 pounds. That won't happen, though, particularly since Williams is also managed by Haymon and given Mayweather's recent history of picking on the smallest guy he deems acceptable.
Since sneaking past Oscar De La Hoya at 154 pounds in 2007 – a match that drew a record 2.45 million pay-per-view sales – Mayweather has subsequently fought then-super lightweight champion Ricky Hatton and lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez.
The way Mayweather has been going, if his team can't come to contract terms with Campbell, he may turn his attention to super flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan.
It's outrageous that Mayweather would consider another small opponent. He could easily push his bout back until April and face Williams in a fight that would pit the second- and third-ranked fighters in the Yahoo! Sports pound-for-pound ratings. That way, he'd meet a legitimate challenger and would not force fans to choose between dueling matches.
That would go a long way toward soothing the anger of fans who felt jilted at not getting the Pacquiao fight, and would prove Mayweather is sincerely seeking a challenge.
By fighting a guy who never has weighed in at 140 pounds in a fight – the most Campbell weighed was 138 ½ when he met Timothy Bradley in August – it looks like Mayweather is trying to siphon more money out of the consumer's wallet.
This entire scenario is filled with enough heels and double dealing to fill a few seasons of Batman. How about Bob Arum as The Joker, Richard Schaefer as Egghead, Al Haymon as The Penguin and Leonard Ellerbe as The Riddler?
It's not hard to believe that Arum never wanted a bout with Mayweather. Arum was Mayweather's first professional promoter and did many great things for his career. But their relationship was frequently contentious and Arum feels the same way about Mayweather these days as Dick Cheney does about Democrats. Arum hates Mayweather. He really, really hates him. As soon as Mayweather gave him the opening by demanding the blood test, Arum was looking to pull the plug. It wasn't because he was afraid Pacquiao would lose, but rather because he couldn't stomach two months of working so closely with Mayweather.
Had Arum wanted to make the fight, he would not have gone on vacation when the bout was teetering on collapse. Rather, had he wanted to make the fight, he would have flown to the Philippines, met with Pacquiao face-to-face, and managed to get an agreement.
Had Team Mayweather really wanted the fight, they would have never insisted on the drug-testing demand. It's admirable that Mayweather wants to see boxing become a clean sport, but he went about it in the wrong manner.
He should have held a news conference to announce that because he believes steroids, EPO, human-growth hormone and other performance-enhancing substances are prevalent in boxing, he would voluntarily undergo random testing administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency to set an example. He could have challenged Pacquiao to do the same.
Further, he could have had his powerful advisers work within the system to change it to make such testing the standard. Rather, he tried to bully Pacquiao and Arum, and the ploy backfired. Mayweather eventually compromised and was willing to set a blood-testing cutoff date 14 days before the bout, but that move was hollow. Several experts have told Yahoo! Sports that there are numerous performance-enhancing drugs, notably EPO, that clear the system in 2-4 days. As a result, a 14-day testing cutoff would have been useless.
Pacquiao's reputation is tarnished, too. He could have avoided this whole thing by agreeing to the tests if he knew he is clean. Pacquiao did not make one good argument why he shouldn't have submitted to the tests.
He offered a series of lame excuses why he would not agree to be tested, though he kept saying he wanted to do the fight to make his fans proud.
That would have entailed a few minor inconveniences during his training camp – it's not as if the testers would have awakened him in the middle of the night – in order to submit the blood samples.
Pacquiao's best argument against being tested is that he believes giving blood too close to an event will weaken him, though there is no medical data to support that. Still, it might have given Mayweather a psychological edge, if Pacquiao somehow believes he was being weakened. That said, that's where a trip to the Philippines by Arum could have quelled the boxer's fears, because though he's not highly educated, Pacquiao is not a stupid man. Arum would have been able to explain that the testing would have been little more than a two-minute annoyance a couple of times during camp.
And Arum could have told Pacquiao the story that a very prominent source in the anti-doping community told Yahoo! Sports regarding Olympic swimming hero Michael Phelps. After Phelps won his first gold medal, he was taken in for a random blood draw, the source said. Later that day, he swam two preliminary heats in other events. The next morning, he won his second of eight gold medals.
So much for being weakened.
All of the players in this mess are at fault. There are no good guys. The fighters have moved on and at least we'll be spared the pious grandstanding from both camps. For his part, at least Pacquiao has taken a reasonable challenge by fighting Clottey, a hard-nosed, aggressive man who gave Miguel Cotto fits in June.
Mayweather, though, can still do something to help the sport that made him rich and famous. He can start by picking on someone his own size.
We've had enough of watching him against lightweights and super lightweights. It's time to fight a real welterweight.
- Manny Pacquiao
- Bob Arum
- Floyd Mayweather Jr