Victor Ortiz had barely hauled himself off the canvas following his shock 2nd Round defeat to Luis Collazo before his conqueror uttered the “M” word. Yep, like everyone else, Collazo wanted to put his name forward for the Mayweather sweepstakes, to earn a payday like no other, $2-4m for the honour of getting jabbed and countered into oblivion for 12 one sided rounds with the P4P King.
Mayweather of course, has narrowed the field to just Amir Khan and Marcos Maidana, but it doesn’t stop nearly every fighter between 140lb and 160lb (or even 175lb in Bernard Hopkins case) from calling “Money” out, and the answer as to why is all in Mayweathers’ nickname.
When we look back at eras of boxing, we remember great winners, valiant losers, great wars and boxing masterclasses, drama, glamour and personality. From the Ali years through the great middleweights (Leonard/Hearns/Hagler/Duran), the whirlwind that was the Tyson era and now, the lottery ticket.
When we look back at this period in boxing history, no matter what happens, one name is going to stand out and that is Mayweather. It doesn’t matter if you think he’s cherry picked his opponents, it doesn’t matter if you think he hasn’t been in a single fight that warrants ‘classic’ status, if, as seems likely, he’s going to retire undefeated after 4 more glorified sparring sessions (he’s too good for ANYONE in his weightclasses), then no matter what, he is going to define this period of boxing for better or for worse. Every Mayweather fight is an event, he’s even managed to make choosing his opponent an event this time around, and he’s been involved in both of the two biggest fights of the last decade (De La Hoya and Canelo).
For fun, I tried to put together a short blast of the other things that will define this last 10-15 years of boxing
1 – The fight that never was.
OK, it still might happen, but even if it does, it’s 2 years past it’s REAL sell by date. I don’t even need to tell you what I’m talking about
2 – To PED or not to PED
That is the question. Pacquiao, Marquez and many others have moved through the weight classes inexplicably, rumours of alleged failed testing plague even the biggest name in the sport and world champions have been caught. As the science becomes more complex, and new substances flood the market that can mask PED’s or work as PED’s without detection, who knows how deep the problem goes. The surface, one safely assumes, has barely been scratched.
3 – The Cold War
Not a new thing in boxing rivalries between promoters or networks, but when Floyd Mayweather defected from HBO and signed with Showtime, it sparked a chain of events that escalated this to an unforseen level, as HBO effectively banned Golden Boy from their network and Showtime literally went into exclusivity with De La Hoya and Schaefer’s outfit.
The sad state of affairs has led to many great potential fights that can’t be made, including the matchup in #1.
4 – MGM Grand – the new Caesars
From the great Ali images, to Tyson, Lewis, Holyfield – Caesars Palace always seemed to be the arena in Vegas most linked to boxing. The MGM Grand Garden Arena has stolen that title and even usurped Madison Square Garden as the new home of the biggest fights. Largely thanks to Mr Mayweather.
5 – Heavyweight Hell
Traditionally boxings’ glamour division, the heavyweights have struggled to entertain arguably since the retirement of Lennox Lewis after a controversial and arguable cuts victory over the emerging Vitali Klitschko. Klitschko and his brother Wladimir have dominated the division for well over a decade, filling stadiums in Germany and Russia, but America has rejected them wholesale and heavyweight boxing needs America. The division that brought us Ali, Foreman, Tyson, Lewis and co, will surely bring another superstar….but where is he?
6 – Great Rivalries
Holyfield/Bowe, Holyfield/Lewis, Pacquiao/Morales, Morales/Barrera, Vasquez/Marquez, Marquez/Pacquiao and of course, Gatti/Ward. Need I say more?
7 – The British Invasion – “There’s only one Ricky Hatton”
When Ricky Hatton fought in Vegas, he brought the crowds. Vegas loved Hatton and the hordes of Brits that followed him each and every time, peaking with 35,000 rabid fans flooding the strip for his fight with Floyd Mayweather. Hatton may not have quite had the absolute quality to beat the very top fighters in the sport, but no-one else could have dragged a town full of people 10,000 miles across the world to see him fight. Incredible
8 – Social Media Explosion
Fighters calling each other out on twitter, Facebook polls to decide opponents, counting the number of ‘followers’ a fighter has – never has access been so direct and so explicit as in the age of social media. Beyond that, the community of boxing fans has been brought together more than ever before. Anyone who spent the evening online on the night that “The One” was announced, or when Adrien Broner was vanquished by Marcos Maidana could tell you that.
9 – The 24/7 years
HBO has excelled with it’s coverage of big fights and the 24/7 series is the definitive pre fight documentary series. Fighters aspire to be covered by 24/7 cameras and the execution, cinematography and ability to engage the audience with the lives of the fighters and see them as something more than a brutal pitbull that’s going into a ring to hit another man is outstanding. Some of the great dramatic moments outside of the ring have been captured on 24/7, not least Floyd Jr and Floyd Sr’s gym fallout, and the incredible row between Team Pacquiao and Team Rios in Macau, China recently
10 – Manny Pacquiao
Of course I didn’t forget him. The guy has been a superstar and arguably been involved in some of the most thrilling and dramatic big fights of the modern era. His fights with Morales, Barrera, Marquez, Cotto, De La Hoya, Hatton all probably classics for various different reasons. However, in recent years, since ‘finding God’ and after a couple of reputation busting defeats, some of that stardust has faded, whilst his rival Mayweathers’ has gotten ever brighter.