- REUTERS/Issei Kato
- Floyd Mayweather has teased three comeback fights in the last two months, and even attended a press conference to confirm a supposed bout on December 31.
- But he recently claimed he was “blindsided” at the press conference and has now pulled the plug on the deal.
- Regardless of that farce, one thing is clear – Mayweather is desperate to return to fighting.
- But many great boxers before Mayweather did not know when to call it quits, and ended their careers on a low.
- Mayweather might not stop fighting until he loses, and that would be a crying shame – but the one crying would be him.
Floyd Mayweather has always promised blood and sweat before he competes in the ring, but if he ever does return to the fight game for one final cash-grab, it could end in tears – and the tears would be his.
Mayweather has made coming out of retirement a business. A comeback, the American knows, means a money fight, something Mayweather knows plenty about.
The 41-year-old retired for the first time in 2007 after he flattened British fighter Ricky Hatton with a highlight-reel check hook in the 10th round.
But he only stayed retired for two years as he returned to boxing for a ruck against the expert counterpuncher Juan Manuel Marquez, whom he dominated with an impressive ease in 2009. Marquez was a lighter opponent but Mayweather looked as good as he ever had, before romping to a succession of clear-cut wins over some of the sport’s biggest names like Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, and Manny Pacquiao.
In a wildly successful comeback, he won five world championship titles in two weight classes and earned over $600 million in just ten fights – more than he had in his previous 39 bouts. It was like he had never been away.
But then he went away again. He retired after he outclassed an inferior opponent in Andre Berto, a bout that earned him $32 million, and this time it appeared he would retire for good. Before the start of the 12th round, supposedly the final time Mayweather would ever sit on a stool during professional combat, he gave a passionate, teary-eyed speech to his father and head coach, Floyd Mayweather Sr., before fighting the final round of his life – his swansong.
That was it. Mayweather called the curtain on an illustrious career at 49-0, at 38 years old, in 2015.
Mayweather is past his prime
Only, that wasn’t it. There was one more fight to come, as an opportunity presented itself that would guarantee Mayweather would dwarf his previous fight salary. That opportunity was Conor McGregor, the mixed martial artist with a gift of the gab, verbal jabs, and a lethal left cross that had concussed many an opponent in the UFC.
Mayweather retired for the third time in 2017, after he labored to a 10th round stoppage victory over McGregor. It was a big-money win, a jackpot that scooped him $275 million, but Mayweather looked poor. McGregor, a boxing novice who had never once fought a professional four-round fight let alone a championship 12-rounder, hung in there until the 10th, and landed 111 punches in the process, more than any other opponent had landed on Mayweather before.
Yes, Mayweather eventually got the job done, but he did so while looking old and past his prime against a novice. It became clear that it’s unlikely he’d be able to compete against active and elite boxers like Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford, or “Canelo” Alvarez.
Mayweather, unsurprisingly, hung up his gloves at 50-0 and became boxing’s first billion dollar fighter. Unbeaten throughout his entire professional career, he left with barely a scratch on his face, having earned more money than any other boxer. He revolutionised the pay-per-view landscape and flew into the sunset, on his terms, as a filthy-rich winner. Boxing? Mayweather completed it.
He now has the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas, a strip club called Girl Collection, a garage filled with rare million dollar cars, a “Billionaire” watch worth $18 million, luxurious mansions, and two private jets. He even flew one of those planes to the other side of the planet just to take an Instagram photo earlier this year.
‘Becoming a farce’
Still, that doesn’t appear to be enough for Mayweather, who clearly wants to fight once more.
He announced a rematch with his former opponent Pacquiao at a nightclub in Japan two months ago, told TMZ Sports in October that he was “absolutely” fighting the UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, and then held a press conferance to confirm a comeback against the relatively obscure Rizin kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa, a 20-year-old who likes anime, aliens, and Harry Potter. Within days, he claimed he was “blindsided” and pulled the plug on the December 31 show in Saitama City.
As Shannon Sharpe, the popular panelist on “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed,” said on Fox Sports 1: “These things are becoming a farce.”
The fight game is littered with great athletes who take one fight too many as some boxers just don’t know when to call it quits.
The former three-time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali “retired” after he avenged his previous defeat to Leon Spinks by beating him in front of 70,000 fans in Louisana in 1978. Ali should have stayed retired, but an $8 million offer lured him into a fight against jab maestro Larry Holmes two years later. Ali, showing signs of trembling hands and stuttering speech, was obliterated in 10 rounds by Holmes. That should have been enough, but Ali still refused to accept the call of retirement and fought Trevor Berbick in 1981, losing by unanimous decision.
And Ali is not alone.
Former “Baddest Man on the Planet” Mike Tyson didn’t know when to call it quits as he was embarrassed in three of his last four fights. His 2004 and 2005 losses to Danny Williams and Kevin McBride would likely have been reversed had he fought them earlier in his career, but Tyson took the fights, lost badly, and ended his career on a low.
Even Roy Jones Jr., the fabulously-athletic sharpshooter, should have retired for good when he won a heavyweight world title having begun his career as a junior middleweight. But after his landmark 2003 decision win over John Ruiz, he lost eight times in 15 years and his record, and legacy, has suffered as a result.
Mayweather could end up as boxing’s next cautionary tale. The man has been fighting’s biggest box office attraction for over a decade, but his magic act is stale. It is time for him to disappear into retirement forever.
If he doesn’t, he will likely keep returning until one day he loses. Then, his record, that undefeated and unbeatable legacy he has built since 1998, will be lost forever.
That would be a crying shame – but the one crying would be Mayweather.