An Epidemic Of Gutlessness

“That fight,” says Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the recent celebration for his 40th birthday, “makes a lot of sense.”

Interesting statement. The “fight” Floyd refers to is the one proposed and much discussed between himself and mixed-martial arts fighter Conor McGregor, a match which, in fact, from a sporting perspective, makes no sense whatsoever. And not that we didn’t already know this, but what Floyd means when he says “a lot of sense” is that it’s the fight that represents the biggest payday for the least amount of risk. As we all know, Floyd Mayweather, as talented and skillful as he is in the ring, remains a businessman first, and a pugilist second.

Despite the fact that numerous roadblocks appear to be frustrating a Mayweather vs McGregor clash, everyone knows better than to count this match out until Floyd says otherwise. If the erstwhile “Pretty Boy” says he’s open to the fight happening, then it remains a distinct possibility for sometime down the road. And the reasons why are, as stated, very obvious: money, and almost zero serious competition.

Let’s be honest: Conor McGregor has no chance whatsoever of winning a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather. None. Zero. In an octagon under MMA rules, he has plenty of chances, but in a boxing ring, forget it. McGregor did do some boxing as a teenager and of course he spars as part of his MMA training, but this is not nearly enough preparation for him to even compete with a mid-level contender, let alone a boxer of Mayweather’s talent, experience and skill. Even a 40-year-old Floyd would toy with an opponent who, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t know how to box.

McGregor: zero risk.
McGregor: zero risk means “it makes a lot of sense.”

But Floyd insists that this match “makes a lot of sense.” In addition to the reward vs risk equation informing that statement, the other thing it reveals is Mayweather’s attitude towards pugilism, the sport which has made him a very wealthy man. By seriously entertaining a total joke of a fight with McGregor and asserting that it makes sense, Floyd is showing once again how little regard he has for the sport to which he owes so much.

It seems silly to have to point this out, but all sports rely on meaningful competition to be relevant. This is why team sports have play-offs and then championship games, and why amateur sports have tournaments to determine through elimination who are the very best competitors. But over the last decade Floyd has been the biggest offender in terms of the trend of champion boxers denying the sport and its fans the most challenging, interesting and significant bouts.

Smart businessman? Or lousy competitor?
Smart businessman? Or lousy competitor?

Back in 2007 Mayweather reached the absolute pinnacle, defeating Oscar De La Hoya in a massive “superfight” to take the title of the number one boxer on the planet, both in terms of supremacy and drawing power. And ever since, Floyd has been indifferent to actually testing himself, or to giving the most deserving rivals the same chances he got to achieve greatness and make big money. His activity rate, a schedule which was never exactly hectic, plummeted as he continued to avoid the most dangerous matches, and as he ducked a fight with Manny Pacquiao for five long years.

Why rehash this again? To make a point that needs to be made: contrary to what the two potential participants may say, a Mayweather vs McGregor fight does not make sense and would represent another blow to what little integrity boxing has left. Further, it would be nothing more than a swindle, as promotion of the match would necessitate proffering a falsehood. Let’s be blunt: to say a Floyd vs Conor boxing match represents any kind of serious competition is a flat-out lie.

The face you make when contemplating your rematch clause.
The face you make when contemplating your rematch clause.

But Floyd says “it makes a lot of sense” and his statement reminded this writer of when Andre Ward campaigned for a match between himself and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. a few years back. After defeating Edwin Rodriguez in 2013 he proclaimed that a match with “Son Of A Legend,” a match that would, let’s face it, be barely competitive, “should” happen, implying that the fight was attractive and that boxing fans wanted to see it, which was completely untrue. Everyone knew that Ward would box circles around Chavez Jr., a fighter who had recently been extremely lucky to get a decision win over journeyman Bryan Vera, but Chavez represented the biggest payday for the least amount of risk for Ward, so why not call him out?

You know, it may be difficult for some to recall this, but there was a time when boxers blatantly calling out low-risk opponents while avoiding tougher challenges would have been called what they are: cowards. But it seems our world is too tame and ‘PC’ for that kind of talk now. We might be more polite and call them “opportunists” (i.e. persons who exploit circumstances to gain immediate advantage rather than being guided by consistent principles), but that’s about as harsh as anyone will get. Instead people will tip their hats to Ward and Mayweather’s supposed business acumen, while turning a blind eye to the damage done to boxing.

Here's hoping this is the start of a rivalry boxing needs.
Why does Ward vs Kovalev II not “make sense”?

And now we have Ward reportedly getting set to retire instead of manning-up and fulfilling his contractual obligation to give Sergey Kovalev a rematch. Forget for the moment the undeniable truth that most observers thought Kovalev clearly deserved the nod over Ward in a competitive and entertaining battle this past November; the simple fact is “Son Of God” agreed to a rematch clause when he signed to face “Krusher.” But just watch: when he retires, Ward, instead of being criticised for his failure to live up to his commitments or for his lack of competitive zeal, will be praised for his sharp business sense. “He’s holding out for more money,” his apologists will say. “He’s letting a rematch marinate. Smart move.”

In other words, Kovalev vs Ward II does not, to use Floyd’s term, make “a lot of sense,” while Mayweather vs McGregor does. Add in Tyson Fury having some kind of breakdown instead of fulfilling his obligation to rematch Wladimir Klitschko, Canelo Alvarez ducking Gennady Golovkin, and a bunch of so-called champions avoiding Guillermo Rigondeaux, and it’s impossible not to conclude that boxing is suffering through an unprecedented epidemic of gutlessness. As Donald Trump would say, “Sad!”              

— Robert Portis 

6 thoughts on “An Epidemic Of Gutlessness

  • February 27, 2017 at 2:00 pm
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    Poor writing. Calling boxers cowards and ending with a word from that moron Trump. Taking the less dangerous fights for more money … It’s called professional boxing. Maximise reward, minimise risk.

    Reply
    • February 28, 2017 at 10:32 pm
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      Dear Gary,

      You’re obviously not a boxing fan. If you were you would have kept such an asinine comment to yourself. It amazes us to think that you would even read article like this. We assume then that you must degrade greats like Roberto Duran and Oscar De La Hoya, who fought anyone near their weight classes to challenge themselves without allowing the fear of losing to preclude them from fighting, as poor businessmen. Also, his writing style has nothing to do with the content, which you took offense to. Please point out all spelling and grammatical errors next time you describe a writing as being “poor”.

      Love,
      Real Boxing Fans

      Reply
    • March 1, 2017 at 3:06 pm
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      This is exactly the tension the article addresses. I’d like to side step the whole thing with an authorizing body that could create and enforce boxing matches. Without that, you’ll see these articles and these responses forever.

      Reply
  • March 1, 2017 at 7:50 am
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    A decent article and I agree with the points you made about Floyd and his desire to take big-money fights that entail little risk. However, lumping Fury in with the opportunists at the end is wrong. He didn’t pull out of the Klitschko rematch because of cowardice (why would he? he won the first bout comfortably on Klitschko territory), he was going through a hell of a lot in his personal life and is under investigation by the UK Anti-Doping Agency. What’s weird is you spoke (dismissively I felt) of Fury “having some kind of breakdown” then equated that with gutlessness. No wonder there’s such a stigma around mental health!

    Reply
  • March 1, 2017 at 8:19 am
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    Article is a bit unfair. Some of the greatest fighters of all time are guilty of indulging in a bit of spectacle for a payday at the end of their careers. Mayweather has nothing to prove. If he can still get paid putting on exhibitions, so be it. There is a market so he’d be a fool not to take advantage. Don’t get too caught up in romanticizing the history and reputation of boxing. In it’s “glory days” it was a mob-run gambling front rife with sham decisions. Enjoy the science, appreciate the masters, throw away the sanctimony. We may be fans but these men do this to put food on the table. Who wouldn’t take the easiest route to make maximum dollars – regardless of profession?

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  • March 2, 2017 at 2:00 am
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    I don’t want to try to exonerate Ward for his sudden and timely aloofness, but comparing him to Mayweather in regards to avoiding risks is an egregious claim, for me. The way you structured the article ( Starting with Money Mayweather and trying to lump S.O.G’s actions in as the same) is also a little manipulative.
    Moving up a weight division to fight an undefeated, world-class champion, with a relatively small following and an 81% K.O. ratio is something that “Money” Mayweather would never do. Although, “Pretty Boy” Floyd might. Ward did. I don’t think Andre Ward is God’s gift to boxing and we’ll see what happens with the rematch with Krusher, but when we start calling guys like Ward, “cowards” for taking risks and trying to maximize their own profits, it shows a lack of empathy from the fans of this blood-sport. Taking too many risks and therefore damage, and not being financially astute leads to head injuries, poverty and overripe careers. There’s a million stories like that in boxing. And they’re actually worthy of the word, “Sad!”

    Reply

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