Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been fighting at the championship level since the end of the last century. For nearly two decades he has remained undefeated. Any fair analysis has to concede, at the very least, that he is the best fighter of his generation and one of the very best defensive boxers of all time.
On Saturday night he will enter the ring for what is being promoted as his final fight, against Andre Berto. Mayweather will be attempting to match Rocky Marciano’s 49-0, one of the sport’s most iconic records.
But there is a lack of enthusiasm and Online chatter heading into what is, on paper, anyway, a boxing night of historical importance. I almost wrote a “surprising lack of enthusiasm,” but the truth is, it’s not really a surprise.
Berto’s trainer, Virgil Hunter, made a lot of noise at the press conference announcing this fight that “real fans” wouldn’t criticize the matchup. It was a preemptive attempt by a smart trainer to take the focus off his fighter, who is widely viewed as undeserving of this fight.
Well, I consider myself a “real fan.” And I’m not really interested in criticizing Berto. He’s a ring warrior who has been in some of the most exciting fights of the past half decade. He was offered a great opportunity and he’s taking it.
But it’s not a criticism, but merely an unsentimental presentation of facts, to point out that he is 3-3 in his past six fights. He was knocked out by journeyman Jesus Soto Karass in July 2013. Although he won by Round 6 TKO against Josesito Lopez last May, he benefited from a very quick stoppage and was clearly losing over the first five rounds. He’s not a top-20 welterweight at this point.
So that makes him a very tough sell as an opponent for the man who is viewed as the pound-for-pound king. Mayweather can point out that he’s just as credible an opponent as Chris Algieri was when he faced Manny Pacquiao in November 2014, and he’s not wrong about that. But that doesn’t make this a compelling fight, either.
Some of lack of interest for this fight is the inevitable hangover from his megafight with Pacquiao last May. The biggest boxing event in a generation failed to deliver in the ring when Pacquiao proved to be no more capable than previous Mayweather opponents at consistently landing punches against him.
This fight is also being over-shadowed in large part by the two pay-per-views that will follow it in October and November: Gennady Golovkin vs. David Lemieux and Miguel Cotto vs. Saul Alvarez. In a struggling economy, it’s unavoidable that consumers would be saving their money for a more sure thing.