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What’s My Beef with Floyd Mayweather Jr.?

Floyd Mayweather Jr Juan Manuel MarquezBy Joel Nepomuceno: Everyone knows him. When he retired from the sport of boxing, he was on top, undefeated, considered the number #1 Pound for Pound kingpin. He was called out more during his retirement than when he was active. True boxing fans have argued his place among the All Time Greats. Casual fans either love him or hate him. Even non-boxing fans like my own mom knows him from his mainstream crossover.

You’ve seen him doing the tango on Dancing with the Stars. You’ve seen him slap Big Show on Wrestlemania. But the question that lingers is what’s my beef with Floyd Mayweather, Jr.? Why don’t I like this guy? Why don’t a lot of people like this guy? Hard core fans to casual fans? A lot of people think he’s great, but there’s also a lot of people that flat out hate him.

Could it be his arrogant, cocky, obnoxious persona? Maybe. The way he’s portrayed on the HBO’s 24/7, it’s not hard to understand why this guy isn’t very likeable. The interviews he’s done, one in particular with Brian Kenny from ESPN, in which he claps his hand to get his point across and acts like an obnoxious eight-year old pining for attention.

The claims of being the best and letting everyone within ear shot know about it can be a little annoying yes. But I don’t think that’s it. I have friends who has met the real Floyd Mayweather, Jr., the one outside the public limelight, and they tell me that he’s a genuinely nice guy. I believe them. I don’t think that’s why I don’t like him.

Could it be that I don’t think he’s that good of a fighter? I don’t think so. I actually think that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a brilliant fighter. I consider him the best pure boxer right now. He’s defense is impenetrable. He’s lightning fast. He’s got the accuracy of a sniper and the precision of a surgeon. This guy is the best boxer out there right now. I don’t even like him, and I can agree that he’s the best pure boxer in the sport.

So what’s my beef with Pretty Boy Floyd? This question bothered me as I waited at the subway station for my wife to pick me up and I came to this revelation. Even though I think he’s the best pure fighter out there right now, I don’t respect him. Not in the way that I don’t respect his skills. I do. I respect what he’s accomplished.

I respect how highly he’s regarded. But what I don’t respect is how he refuses to challenge himself. I think his choice to fight Juan Manuel Marquez is questionable at best. It is what it is Floyd. A tune-up fight. He wants to see if he’s lost a step, a little bit of precision, whatever it is. But label it a tune-up fight Floyd.

Brian Kenny asked him why a lightweight? Why not Sugar Shane Mosley? Floyd’s answer…Sugar doesn’t draw enough PPV’s (and Juan Manuel Marquez does?), that he’s lost five times (all to fighters Floyd refuses to get in the ring with), that he’s lost to Miguel Cotto, who lost to Margarito, who’s lost to Mosley (but what Mayweather leaves out, is that he’s never faced any of them).

Floyd Mayweather thinks that his “0” makes him the best. Most fans agree with me, that’s not the case. Great fighters very rarely finish with a “0” on their records. Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Muhammed Ali…all were beaten at some point in their career. But in boxing, like in life, it’s not if you get knocked down, its how you dust yourself off and get back up that defines you.

It’s how you test yourself against the best that you find out how great you really are, not that you tell people you’re the best. I think the sooner Floyd figures this out, the happier he would be. He wouldn’t have to clap his hands and tell everyone he’s the best. People will give him the credit he deserves.

Even if he loses, the fact that he accepts the top challenge and risk his “0” would say more about his character than if he continues to fight smaller fighters, or fighters past their prime.

Think about it. The most well respected fighters today, they’ve fought the best, and sometimes they’ve lost. But they have something that a lot of people don’t give Floyd, respect. Sugar Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, and Manny Pacquiao have all lost at one point in their career. But most boxing fans give them the respect they crave.

They’ve all had battles that not only defined them, but defined their careers. Miguel Cotto’s fight with Sugar Shane Mosley was an old fashioned shoot out. Who can forget his fight with Margarito? The way, he was giving Margarito a boxing lesson, and how Margarito stalked him like prey towards the end. Who could forget his face swollen and bloodied to a pulp.

Who can forget Juan Manuel Marquez’s two fights with Manny Pacquiao. Who can forget his three knockdowns in the first, then his monumental comeback by giving the Pacman a clinical boxing lesson the last half of the fight? He officially drew one and lost the latter, but it defines his career and defines who he is. Who can forget Manny Pacquiao’s fights with Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Eric Morales?

The way he was pressuring Morales until he finally caved? The look on Morale’s face while he was on the canvas, with Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee jumping like a two year old, out of focus in the crowd? Who can forget Sugar Shane Mosley’s two fights with a prime Oscar De La Hoya? Or his two losses to Winky Wright? He dared to fight a bigger fighter, and he was denied.

Who could forget his last second knockout of Mayorga? And who could forget his total deconstruction of the most feared boxer at the time, Antonio Margarito? I’ll never forget that fight. I didn’t give Sugar Shane a chance, but he proved me wrong, and it was one of the best fights that I’ve seen live. Speaking of Oscar De La Hoya, it’s true. He’s lost most of his “mega fights.”

But he accepted the challenge. Who can forget him, pounding the canvas after taking the body shot from Bernard Hopkins? Who can forget his two fights with Sugar Shane Mosley? Or the way he gave Felix Trinidad a boxing lesson for 6 rounds, then decided to throw the fight away by playing it safe? But with the losses for these fighters, came something else that most people don’t associate with losing, respect.

But I think about Floyd Mayweather and the fights of his that I’ve seen. I can’t say that I have one moment, or one fight in particular that I’ve said, “yeah, this guy is the real deal.” He obviously is. As I’ve said, I feel he’s the most technically gifted boxer out there. But there hasn’t been a fight that he’s really tested himself. The fight with Oscar De La Hoya was billed as “The World Awaits”. And we did.

Unfortunately, for my $55 that I spent, I almost fell asleep. My friends started playing cards. The world did wait, for a snoozefest unfortunately. Mayweather’s fight with Ricky Hatton was pretty impressive. Impressive that it took him 10 rounds to knock out Hatton who came in face first.

Hatton was successful fighting good fighters that way. He wasn’t fighting elite fighters. So what’s Mayweather’s career defining moment? The moment that the world, in unison, says “that guy is it”. I’ll tell you one thing, it won’t come against Juan Manuel Marquez. I’m sure there are plenty of Floyd fans that will politely, or impolitely disagree with me, and that’s what I ask. Change my mind.

As I mentioned, Floyd is the best pure boxer out there, but who has he really, really challenged himself against? What’s his career defining fight? Maybe my mind can be swayed, and when it finally is, maybe I would be excited to meet him in person, as my friends were before me.

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