Floyd Mayweather Jr. is one of the best fighters of his generation. The undefeated, undisputed, pound-for-pound and pay-per-view champion has been in the game for 16 years. He’ll look virtually the same, when he walks into the ring against Robert Guerrero on May 4, as he did when he first walked into the ring as Pretty Boy Floyd for his professional debut.
Of course, back then, Mayweather wasn’t all about money. Money Mayweather, as he’s now known, is a creation, a caricature Mayweather uses to drum up attention for the fights. Manny Pacquiao was the media darling. So was Oscar De La Hoya. Floyd took what the market gave him, and used the arrogant, egotistical persona to play the role of the bad guy. He pretended to use stacks of cash to make phone calls, burned $100 bills in clubs, went on racist tirades, and constantly insinuated that Pacquiao was taking steroids. You had to pay, just to see if he finally lost.
Mayweather was somewhat forced into that hole because he wasn’t all that exciting in the ring. He’s extremely talented, rarely got hit and almost never got hurt. He mastered the sweet science. But for all Floyd’s ducks, feints and check-hooks, many people still remember a great night’s sleep while he fought De La Hoya. Compared to Pacquiao, who beat the hell out of the Golden Boy and always fights in exciting fashion, Pretty Boy Floyd didn’t give the same adrenaline rush to fans. So Floyd replaced him (Pretty Boy) with Money.
Eventually, the persona started carrying over to the ring. He started standing in front of opponents and trading more punches. Though it made for exciting fights, even old man Shane Mosley landed a shot on him in 2011 and he’s barely won a round since beating Antonio Margarito in 2009. Mayweather’s last fight, a year ago, against Miguel Cotto showed more cracks in the armor. He took numerous hard shots, but naturally, still walked away with the W.
It was all in preparation for his gargantuan deal with Showtime Sports. Mayweather, now the exciting entertainer, fought like a madman for about three fights and, for the first time in his career, took some punishment.
But Floyd most certainly is not about that life, and now that he’s made all that money – signing with Showtime for six fights over the next 30 months – he doesn’t have to be. It shows in his preparation and pre-fight mantra: fighting smart.
Smart, in boxing, is another way of saying “don’t get hit.” Don’t over-extend yourself. Don’t try to knock the other guy out and leave yourself exposed. Keep your head moving. Wait for your opportunity.
None of those things featured heavily in Mayweather’s last couple of fights. He knows it, too. It’s partly why he decided to bring his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., back to training camp after constant feuding between the two forced Jr. to repeatedly kick Sr. out, and have his uncle Roger handle the training. Now, he’s even named his dad the head trainer.
“Miguel Cotto was an interesting fight, but I wasn’t pleased. I give myself a D+ for that last performance,” Mayweather said on Showtime’s pre-fight show, All Access. “I got hit with some shots I feel I shouldn’t have gotten hit with and lost a couple rounds I shouldn’t have lost. I brought my Dad back to my camp because that was the best thing for my career. He’s here to fix any problems that I had from the Cotto fight. So things will be better May 4.”
Unless Floyd Jr. and Sr. went on a sabbatical to learn more offensive tactics, better means back to the basics. Back to ducking and dodging. Back to making people look stupid.
“[Floyd Sr.] has been upset with me,” said Mayweather Jr. “For my last six fights, he doesn’t want me to take any punishment, so I gotta tighten up my defense.”
It’s a legacy-boosting move. Floyd is more susceptible to getting caught with a shot simply because he’s now 36 years old. Plus, the only thing more important than money is the “0” on his record that allows him to make all that bread. Floyd hasn’t really flirted with losing it just yet, but he’s flirted with the possibility of losing it, as any boxer does when he allows himself to take more shots. With more focus on defense, those possibilities may have just disappeared.
That’s bad news for Robert Guerrero and anyone else he fights for the rest of this contract. Now that Floyd has made his money, it’s all about preserving his undefeated record as he attempts to go down as one of the greatest fighters of all time.
Just like it was when he started.