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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mayweather Madness: Inside the Heart of a Shattered Ego

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It was in May of 2007, and Floyd Mayweather had finally done it. After outpointing Oscar De La Hoya for a title in his fifth weight division in front of the most viewed pay per view fight in history, he had finally been recognized by the world as something he knew he had been for a very long time; the best boxer on the planet and the best of his generation.

Not only was he the best, he was undefeated. No other man on the planet was capable of beating him. After the De La Hoya fight came millions of dollars, talk shows, celebrity appearances and mainstream star recognition. His identities of “Best boxer” and “Unbeatable fighter” were well intact and he thrived on it all. A knockout win over the over-matched but vastly popular Ricky Hatton only furthered his reputation and superstar status.

Then a funny thing happened; Floyd announced a very, very shocking and surprising retirement from the sport. He had finally reached the peak of his career and had just become a household name; why would he retire when every fight from here on out would earn him millions and make him a name for the ages?

Floyd claimed his heart was no longer into boxing, but upon further analysis it looks like it was a case of the old saying: To whom much is given, much is expected. The three major challengers lurking in the shadows during this time period were a very dangerous Miguel Cotto, a rugged Antonio Margarito and a rejuvenated Shane Mosley. Now that Floyd was given the recognition of being the best, it was time for him to take on the best. To fight these fighters in 2008 would definitely enhance his “Best boxer” legacy if he won, but it would surely put to threat his “Unbeatable fighter” tag as they had great potential to beat him.

So as Floyd battled his insecurities, something very special was happening. The void Floyd left in boxing by retiring was quickly being filled by a Filipino lightning bolt named Manny Pacquiao. After settling some scores with previous rivals, Manny went on to knockout De La Hoya and Hatton in a far more impressive fashion than the man known as “Money”. Not only that, but the seemingly superhuman Manny went on to destroy all three guys that Floyd did not engage with when he was on top; Cotto, Margarito and Mosley. All during the while Pacquiao totally eclipsed Mayweather’s five division titles with a world record and almost impossible to duplicate EIGHT division titles.

For the longest time Floyd refused to even acknowledge Manny at all, dismissing him as a flash in the pan and finding comfort that he still was the “Best boxer” and “Unbeatable fighter”. This all ended at the start of 2010, when Paquaio was awarded the prestigious Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) fighter of the decade award. Seeing that he was losing his “Best boxer” identity to the Filipino sensation, he finally broke his silence about Manny saying that he was undefeated and Manny lost a few times already so it made no sense for Manny to get the fighter of the decade award. His reasoning fell on deaf ears but one thing was clear: Mayweather was now feeling the effects of the recognition Manny was getting and seemed to be very upset about it.

What followed for Floyd were several lawsuits filed against him for getting into altercations with security guards and other various random folks, him putting up YouTube videos on his Twitter page showcasing Manny’s earlier career losses and a semi-racist video recorded rant about Manny and how he is not even close to as good as he is made out to be. It was clear to all who were following this that Floyd was internally breaking down and Manny Pacquiao dethroning him and taking his “Best boxer” identity was the major reason why.

So why not fight Manny and get his identity back? Remember Floyd also carries a “Unbeatable fighter” tag due to his perfect record; and if the non-stop action Manny were to beat him and take that too he would have nothing left to his name.

It seems Floyd has now found that trying to keep his undefeated streak intact by fighting lesser challenges combined with staying on the sidelines AND maintaining recognition as being the best boxer of his generation is just not going to happen. Manny has imprinted his stamp as the best boxer alive right now and nothing Mayweather can say or do besides fighting the man is going to change that; and he seems to now know it too.

Mayweather recently announced his return to the sport after a year plus layoff. He will be taking on tough WBC champion Victor Ortiz, a young fighter who carries lots of power. During the press conferences for the upcoming bout, Mayweather openly challenged Manny and stated he wants him next. For the first time in long time, Floyd seemed focused and happy while looking a lot less irritated and uncomfortable than he has the last couple of years.

Everyone has to look in the mirror when facing doubts, and it is a fact that Floyd had many uncertainties in his life as Manny rose to extraordinary fame and he was being forgotten about. To continue to ignore the problem and to just keep reassuring himself he was really the best and Pacquiao was not superior to him would have done nothing but continue his downfall and keep him fading into a dark path full of pity altercations, lawsuits and no life direction.

It’s up to Floyd now to prove to the world that he really is the “Best boxer” and “Unbeatable fighter”. He stated he’d like to fight many more fights and even after taking on Pacquiao he is in the sport for the long term. Congrats for Floyd for finding his passion again and for getting his career / life back in some order and positive direction. It seems that he’s ready to finally take some risks to prove he deserves to be remembered in history as one of the best and that he deserves the praise, riches and fame; because as Floyd has learned the long, painful and hard way: To whom much is given, much is expected.


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