Floyd Mayweather is an immense talent, but boxing not only survived, it thrived, long before he ever pulled on a pair of gloves. And, as much as it might jolt his ego, it will survive just fine once he decides he to retire from the ring for good.
Boxing survived the retirements of Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard and it will survive without Mayweather, as well.
For all the good Mayweather thinks he's doing for the sport, the reality is he's doing it far, far, far more harm. Forget the lunacy of not making the fight with Manny Pacquiao, a bout the fans of the sport that he professes to want to please, have been desperate to see. The problem here is that Mayweather's success has led him to believe that it's a sport of one and that he's the only fighter who matters.
There are many fans and sycophants in the media who buy that angle and repeat it ad nauseum, but for all the good Mayweather's bi-annual mega-fights do for boxing, he's also bringing it great harm with many of his words and actions (or lack of actions).
Mayweather did an interview with FightHype.com's Ben Thompson -- he rarely speaks to any media except Thompson other than when he's trying to promote a fight and needs the publicity -- in which he blasted Oscar De La Hoya for guiding Canelo Alvarez from Showtime to HBO. Mayweather talks repeatedly about being his own boss, which is also what Alvarez wants to do. Alvarez wanted to decide how his career unfolded and made sure it happened the way he wanted by directing De La Hoya to bring him back to HBO, yet Mayweather takes issue with another fighter taking charge of his career.
Oscar De La Hoya has always been disloyal; very disloyal. He was very disloyal to [ex-Golden Boy Promotions CEO] Richard Schaefer. Richard Schaefer built that company from the ground up. I don't have anything against Eric Gomez at all, but De La Hoya is a piece of [expletive]. Oscar is a snake! [Showtime Sports executive vice president/general manager] Stephen Espinoza, he's been more than fair. It gets no bigger than Showtime. What I love so much about Showtime is that we are the only side. Wherever Mayweather goes, it's showtime, period!
Now, forget for a moment that Mayweather himself made a similar move when he jumped in 2013 from HBO to Showtime in exactly the same manner for a better deal. For years, Mayweather would lavish praise upon HBO and refer to it as the best network. Showtime only became the best network in his eyes after it lavished him with an extraordinary contract that HBO wouldn't, and perhaps couldn't, match.
Time will tell if the decision was correct, but De La Hoya made the move not only to take Alvarez to a place where he'd be able to land the type of fights he wanted, but also to the network which historically has had far more success building stars.
Showtime had a marvelous year showing great fights in 2013, though it's dropped off considerably in 2014. But Showtime hasn't truly built a star who fought exclusively on its network in the 21st century.
The majority of the high-profile fighters who fight on Showtime's Championship Boxing series, men such as Adrien Broner, Danny Garcia and Amir Khan, were first developed on HBO.
That's not in dispute. Showtime hasn't had a mega-star develop on its own network in years and there is nothing in 2014 that would suggest that's about to change.
Showtime has done yeoman's work under Espinoza improving the quality of its product and it may ultimately develop a star on its own, but the hard, cold truth is that now, it simply has not done that.
Mayweather, though, ripped De La Hoya anyway and tried to set himself up as a paragon of virtue and loyalty.
But one thing about me, if I'm with you, I'm loyal to you and I'm loyal to the end. I was with HBO and for years, I wasn't even under contract with HBO. I didn't have a deal with them anymore. I was only doing fight by fight for years. I wasn't with no one, but I was doing a fight by fight with HBO and I was loyal to HBO. I'm with Showtime right now. We're not the B side and we're not the A side; we're the only side.
That last line is the problem: We're the only side.
Wrong. A Mayweather-Pacquiao fight would be huge not because of just Mayweather, but because of Pacquiao, as well. In late 2009 and early 2010, when the bout first should have been held, they weren't just one and two in the welterweight division, they were one and two in the pound-for-pound rankings, as well.
It was Mayweather, the master boxer, against Pacquiao, the feared slugger, for supremacy in the sport.
That was the sell and it was far bigger than either of them individually. That remains the case today.
Mayweather and his brilliant adviser, Al Haymon, are masters at using leverage to get what they want, much like Schaefer routinely did on behalf of De La Hoya. If HBO balked at a match that Schaefer proposed because it felt the quality wasn't good, Schaefer would respond by saying something along the lines, "OK, but Oscar isn't going to be happy." A short while later, HBO Sports executives would change their minds and cave to Schaefer's demands.
One of the reasons that the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight hasn't happened is because executives at MGM Resorts haven't demanded it. They understand that Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum is a loose cannon and could, and has, taken Pacquiao away from them for big fights in the past. He took Pacquiao to Cowboys Stadium in Texas for bouts against Josh Clottey and Antonio Margarito and has brought him to Macau, China, for a 2013 match with Brandon Rios, and an upcoming fight with Chris Algieri.
Mayweather, though, has never fought a major bout anywhere but the MGM Grand. And management at MGM Resorts want to keep it that way.
If those executives leaned on Mayweather to make the Pacquiao fight, it would have a much greater chance of being made. But they're concerned that Mayweather won't react rationally and might opt to fight elsewhere, such as the Barclays Center in New York, which has been heavily courting him.
Public relations people for the Barclays Center have been extremely aggressive in letting media know they are interested in staging a Mayweather fight, so much so some of them begged reporters last month to tweet that Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark was in Las Vegas for Mayweather-Marcos Maidana II negotiating a deal to bring a Mayweather bout to New York.
Though MGM Resorts executives have been extraordinarily loyal to Mayweather and treated him exceptionally well, they can not be certain he'll remain loyal in return. His recent history shows he won't.
He thinks of himself first, last and always and long-term relationships don't seem to matter to him.
Think for a second what he did to Showtime when he appeared before the Nevada Athletic Commission on Sept. 23 in Las Vegas for things that appeared on the reality series promoting his Sept. 13 bout at the MGM Grand with Maidana.
On one episode, several of Mayweather's girlfriends were shown smoking marijuana while Mayweather ordered an assistant to go buy more rolling papers. Later in the same episode, a scene was shown in which two boxers fought a 31-minute round that eschewed safety.
NAC Commissioner Bill Brady couldn't have defended Mayweather any stronger if he'd been Mayweather's paid legal adviser, so there was little chance of Mayweather facing any difficulties. Brady's actions were outrageously unprofessional, showing little concern for equity or getting to the truth of the matter. Brady was at the hearing to defend Mayweather and defend him he did, no matter what Mayweather said or how he was perceived.
When Mayweather spoke at the hearing, he simply threw his partners at Showtime under the bus. The marijuana, he said, was a prop. The 31-minute round had several breaks and wasn't one continuous round of action as had been portrayed on TV. All of the crazy things that Showtime showed, he said, were just acting in order to promote the fight.
Showtime, of course, will have to use All Access in the future when Mayweather is done fighting to promote other cards. But he clearly didn't care. No one believes that a so-called reality series is 100 percent unscripted and unfiltered. Everyone knows the cameras are around and, at least to a degree, that influences their actions.
But he long has sold himself as outrageous, over the edge. But when he was pushed, he admitted he is not so outrageous and over the edge as Showtime's show made him appear.
It was all fake, he said.
But Yahoo Sports talked to several employees at Showtime, who weren't allowed to speak publicly after a corporate directive came down from on high. But all of those employees were extraordinarily angry at Mayweather and insisted he'd lied.
For Mayweather to criticize De La Hoya only a couple of weeks after slamming Showtime as he did makes him a hypocrite of the highest order. Showtime had paid him more than $130 million over four bouts in the last 16 months but he didn't take one for the team, so to speak. When challenged, he dumped on Showtime and said their reality show wasn't what it appeared to be.
Mayweather deserves a lot of credit for making himself into a star. It takes far more than simply talent, and though he has great talent in excess, he understood perfectly how to market and promote himself.
But Mayweather sucks all the air out of the room and there is none left for other fighters. For boxing to thrive -- for his own company, Mayweather Promotions, to thrive -- new stars need to be developed.
In Mayweather's world, though, it's about him first, last and always. And that, as much as anything else, is harming the sport that's made him unimaginably rich and famous.
It would be nice if he'd do something for it in return that did something other than line his own pockets, but don't expect that any time soon.