Mayweather’s lack of a true rival hurts boxing


By Peter Bailey-Wells

Some people say it takes blood, sweat and tears to complete a hard task. In boxing, that expression is taken literally, and no one has bled, sweated or cried more than Floyd Mayweather Jr.

On Friday night, Mayweather defeated Marcos Maidana in a majority decision to increase his career record to 46-0 and further solidify his place as the greatest pound-for-pound boxer in the world.

But does Mayweather’s success even matter? What happened to the sport of Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Sugar Ray Robinson?

As strange as it would have seemed years ago, boxing is now irrelevant to the average sports fan, and it’s mostly Mayweather’s fault.

Mayweather has made upwards of $350 million from fighting professionally, and reportedly has many luxury vehicles. He is the highest-paid athlete in the world, and makes most of his money without endorsement deals. His fight with Maidana had a guaranteed payday of at least $32 million and will probably net him more than that.

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    But he’s still bored. As early as 2007, Mayweather discussed retiring from the sport that ceases to challenge him. How is it possible to take a sport seriously when its biggest athlete is bored?

    When athletes are dominant, they establish rivalries that spark a continued interest in their sport. Ali had the “Rumble in the Jungle” and the “Thrilla in Manila”. Jordan had Isiah Thomas, Reggie Miller, and the New York Knicks. Gretzky had Mario Lemieux along with the New York Islanders.

    Mayweather’s biggest “rival” in the boxing world is Manny Pacquiao, the charismatic Filipino congressman. A Mayweather/Pacquiao fight has been in the workings since 2009, but has never materialized due to several different disagreements between the Mayweather camp and Pacquiao camp.

    And therein lies the problem. If Jordan were Mayweather, he would do anything to get into the ring with Pacquiao. If Mayweather really wanted to be the best, he would settle any disagreements with Pac-Man and force that fight to happen.

    Maybe it’s easy to be lazy when you make more money than any athlete in the world.

    Maybe Mayweather is scared.

    Maybe it’s tough to take it seriously when you’ve never lost.

    What we do know is that the Rockets won the NBA title in 1994 and 1995, and if MJ hadn’t gone to play baseball, those trophies would be sitting in the Bulls’ trophy case. There is no doubt MJ was the best because before and after his “retirement,” he beat all comers, and left no stone unturned in his quest to be the greatest of all time (GOAT).

    If Mayweather wants to be the GOAT that he claims he already is, he has to fight like Ali, the Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the 20th Century.” Ali had no fear. Mayweather behaves like he has no fear, but there will always be skeptics, and until he fights Pacquiao and silences those critics, his status as GOAT will be in question.

    Until he fights Pacquiao, boxing’s relevancy will be in question.

    Peter is a freshman in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @pbaileywells22.