Someone said earlier today, “When Floyd Mayweather leaves boxing he can’t be replaced just like Michael Jordan could not be replaced when he retired from basketball.” To some extent there were those who resembled Jordan when he left the game, but it wasn’t the same.
So when the discussion centers on Mayweather, well, this is boxing. And it will be difficult to find a suitable successor to duplicate what continues to be done by Mayweather after his dominating win over Robert Guerrero Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Though there seems to be this consensus, Mayweather picks his opponents and has the most lucrative contract for an athlete in sports, because it is difficult to find someone like him. And perhaps that is true as a one-night title defense of $32 million, part of a six- fight $200 million deal with Showtime, is unprecedented and will be hard to duplicate.
Boxing does not have a viable replacement for Floyd Mayweather Jr. Like him or not, he has brought that persona to the table and represents the sport. He no longer is public enemy number one because the mega fight with Manny Pacquiao never took place.
Mayweather is the face of boxing, and will continue to be, until he says no more. Guerrero finally discovered that after 12-rounds of boxing he never saw before. Mayweather was hardly hit and Guerrero missed, and took a share of punches. In many respects, was Guerrero worthy of getting a deserved title opportunity for Mayweather’s WBC welterweight belt?
Yes, because Guerrero was in line as the World Boxing Council saw it that way, and he earned the title shot. Because Mayweather is the face of boxing, and with every reason to say otherwise, Canelo Alvarez was a fight away, as was Austin Trout.
Adrien Broner, jumping up in weight could be an opponent down the line. Miguel Cotto gave Mayweather a test last May, but another one will not be on the table and there is Amir Khan looking for an opportunity.
The next fight is September 14th, so boxing won’t have to wait another year to see the face of the sport. The likely matchup would be the young and talented Alvarez, but the improved defense that Mayweather showed against Guererro could be a test for the Mexican.
So, Mayweather commands the business. He gets the money, publicity, and it is well deserved. We are not, perceiving him, the foul mouth- bad - boy of boxing. He did not swear or retaliate when Guerrero Sr. called him “A wife beater” at the final press conference last week. A, 90-day incarceration period leaves a lot of thinking and a change of attitude about a perspective of life.
We see a new Floyd Mayweather Jr. with his composure, attitude, and gracious “Thank you, Thank you” to the fans, television commentators, media, and to Showtime for giving him the most lucrative contract, pertaining to an athlete in sports.
And this is boxing, where Mayweather has always been perceived as the bad guy and when the major contract was a thing of the past. He was the subject Saturday along with a prestigious horse race, “The Kentucky Derby.” He culminated one of the highlight days in sports, along with the NBA and NHL playoffs and Major League Baseball games.
Did the boxing fan seem to care that earlier, at an arena in Germany, Wladimir Klitschko once again successfully defended the WBA/IBF/IBO heavyweight title? No, because the heavyweight title is meaningless and no longer the face of boxing. Mayweather is the face and took that title, even if he says, “I am still growing.”
Growing to an unprecedented title as the undefeated and best pound-for-pound fighter in the business at 36-years of age, and Pacquiao or the middleweight champion Sergio Martinez can’t say that.
The layoff shows no rust in the ring. Mayweather is still going strong and we will see him even more. That is good for the image of boxing, as long as he stays away from trouble and the trash talk.
On the podium, at the MGM Arena post fight press conference, Mayweather concluded, “Thank you everyone. You guys have been great.” There was gratitude again to the media and fans for appreciating a new attitude, and how the sport has evolved around Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy and a Mayweather partner put it in perspective, “See you here again September 14th.” We don’t have to wait another year under this Mayweather deal.
We will be there, but who will be in the ring facing Mayweather? He is the face of boxing and the sport revolves around him until further notice 17-years later when he first became a story.
Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com, Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso