By Sishaq: As the old saying goes father time is undefeated. And because of that win streak we must bid adieu to the era of Floyd “Money” Mayweather. Those of us lucky to be alive were witnesses to a special athlete who was groomed to be nothing more in life except a world class boxer.
Some 40+ years ago Floyd Mayweather Sr. had the audacity to go into the lab to cook up a once in a generation athlete who’d transcend boundaries very few ever have. Floyd wasn’t just a gifted athlete who through “hard work and dedication” was able to “point to easy work”, but also a supreme businessman. The way Google took advertisement earnings to the next level, Floyd’s shrewd marketing moves in boxing world took his personal earnings into the stratosphere. Starting in the late 2000s Floyd became must-see TV and because of secret whispers from mystery man Al Hayman was able to turn the tables on boxing’s old guards – namely the everlasting Bob Arum.
After getting reborn again, the Money Man perfected the act of a bad boy villain and amplified it in the media every chance he could get. But it wasn’t just hot-air because Floyd had a chameleon-like war arsenal the envy of Sun Zsu. His planning was cunning, timing unsuspecting, power underrated, ring generalship miscalculated, scouting underreported, deceptiveness unexpected, and mental fortitude misjudged. It’s for these reasons his opponents all felt they held some advantage or another, but as we all well know 50 have tried and 50 have failed. With his retirement from boxing it now begs the question is there anyone out there who is ready to take the Money Man’s mantle? Who will provide excitement, drama, opinions, hilarious quotes, outlandish claims, a fallible character but all of it backed up by supreme talent?
Let’s look at some of the more common fighters that could make a case for putting on the glass slippers. To limit our pool, the fighter must be talented, charismatic, have crossover appeal and have some perceived weakness – all characteristics of Money.
The marketing draw, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Carne-lo has been in some wars recently and has proven to be battle tested. He’s advised by class act Oscar De La Hoya, who’s turned the protégé into a rising star attraction. But recent developments about failed drug tests cannot be ignored. Regardless of your opinion on Money, he’s never been caught doping. The wink-wink rumor has always been that Floyd received “special exemptions” with performance enhancers being a Las Vegas-based fighter but since it’s never been proven, we can only conclude it isn’t true. For Carne-lo on the other hand it seriously taints his legacy and stops a lot of momentum. However, this does not negate the special talent Carne-lo’s proven himself to be. And relatively young at 27 years he’s got a small window to reestablish himself as an uncontaminated fighter.
The poker-faced assassin, Genady “GGG” Golovkin. GGG is like the friendly neighbor next door who years later you find out had a pile of dead bodies in his garage, including a TV display made of the skeleton remains of his dog. He catches everyone off guard with his charming broken English but make no mistake, this ruthless street fighter is like the polite version of Iron Mike Tyson. With a 37-0 record and perhaps the most avoided fighter on the planet, GGG makes a strong candidate.
The money maker, Conor “The Notorious” McGregor. Although he’s only had one professional boxing match one thing is clear, McGregor already had a strong MMA fan base and because he helped sell the fight with Floyd, he can now parlay fans from both sports in future bouts. But can he get past Khabib Nurmagomedov first?
Mr. 90K, Anthony Joshua. Not only does he have Hollywood looks but also KOd the 64-wins lineal heavyweight and automatic first ballot hall of famer Wladimir Klitschko in an epic battle. If there was a street fight and you could only pick one boxer on your team, would it be anyone other than AJ? His future is looking very bright with some nice money spinning bouts on the horizon with Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
The rising stars, Keith “One Time” Thurman, Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr., Adrien “The Problem” Broner, Terence “Bud” Crawford, Mikey Garcia. I’ll group these elite fighters together because they’re all in the highly competitive and glamorous welterweight division. Keith and Errol can change anyone’s game plan with a single punch. AB is already recognized in the UK as the “Motormouth of America”. Bud is a rising star but, like Mikey, is still without a single fight at WW; though we’ll know soon what direction his career is going in after he faces off against head butter extraordinaire, Jeff Horn.
After careful consideration, IMO the next Mayweather is not any of the aforementioned candidates. The reason being they all lack the high TMT-standards of charisma, marketability, cross-appeal, or perceived weakness. Each of these boxers are talented but lack one, two or three of the qualities needed to be the next Money Man. If a sturdy house can only be on a solid foundation, the next Mayweather must have these four pillars to transcend the sport. So, you might be wondering, is anyone out there to save the sport from inconsequentiality? Are we in for a decade or two or three of despair, toiling out of the conscience of the mainstream and falling behind MMA, WWE, WNBA? You don’t want to see that happen. I don’t want to see that happen.
Most successful operations have a succession plan. When the time nears for a leader to retire, the person groomed to take his or her place seizes the opportunity to carry the franchise forward. But as good as Floyd was let’s take an accounting of the succession plan he left for us. Floyd fought the heavy hitting Marcos “Chino” Maidana but Chino is now heavy sitting if you catch my drift. Before he used to take pictures with interesting backgrounds, now he is the background! Floyd fought the rising Carne-lo, but he was left too poor to afford anything more than tainted street tacos and is currently serving a ban from boxing. Floyd fought “Vicious” Victor Ortiz, but he figured he’d rather face the stiff competition on Dancing with the Stars. Then there was Manny Pacquiao but he turned his attention to fighting a bunch of old geezers in the Philippines Senate. Juan Manual Marquez had potential but he got stuck in Groundhog Day; fighting the same opponent over and over and over again to the point even $100 million dollars isn’t enough to lure him back in the ring. Conor looked promising too, but he concluded fighting buses in underground parking garages was more his calling card. He too is facing a potential ban. Floyd once said, “once I beat a guy, mentally and physically, he’s never the same.” Is it a coincidence then that Floyd has completely turned off everyone he’s fought from boxing? One or two cases would be coincidental, but this is a clear pattern that whoever Floyd touches is cursed and doomed from the sweet science. It’s like the clock struck midnight and all the former opponents just turned into pumpkins.
So, is there anyone left out there who Floyd hasn’t condemned to perdition? Worry not because yes, someone is left, a hidden gem right under our noses. He’s gone undetected and stayed under the radar this whole time because we’ve been too preoccupied with the NKOTB syndrome – that is until now. Say cheerio to Amir “King” Khan. Let me give you a second to catch your breath and put a check on that rising blood pressure. Before you do something harmful to yourself or your computer screen, read me out for a paragraph or two.
I get it, he’s chinny with Bambi legs and has been dropped more times than a Jersey Shore grenade. Even fellow Brit Billy Joe Saunders declared recently, “Khan has got the worst chin in boxing”. But let’s think this through beyond the superficial layer. What made Floyd must-see TV can be best summed up to one thing – you were either 100% behind him or you 100% wanted his 0 to go, in other words he was as polarizing as heaven is to hell. The King has the exact same polarizing characteristic, just manifested in a different form. Whereas Floyd carefully cultivated his bad boy persona to attract haters Khan has done it naturally. You see, Khan’s chin is like Floyd’s 0, you want to see it fail and when it doesn’t you want it to fail even more the next time he gets in the ring, or better yet fail at life altogether. For most of the haters it goes well past the line of jealousy to an unhealthy 24/7 obsession. It’s like when a crack addict goes through withdrawals, he’ll do anything to see that chin go down. Floyd said it best, “some pay to see me win, some pay to see me lose, but they all pay.” But you’re probably thinking this doesn’t make any sense because Khan’s been gloriously down three times already. Oh, but you see that is one of the great ironies of the universe, Floyd’s gimmick was his zero losses. Had he gained a single defeat on his record the haters would have reached euphoria-ville and moved onto the next annoying undefeated target. Khan’s chin on the other hand is the hook. It’s like an Uber ride; the meter just keeps getting reset to 0 after every fight and you want to keep coming back for more KOs. It’s like an addiction, you want the urge (of seeing the KO) satisfied over and over and over but the longer you don’t get it fulfilled the more restless you become. But surely the formula can’t be that simple, and you’re right.
Here are the other necessary ingredients making the King the next Mayweather. Like the Money Man, Khan is indisputably a highly talented boxer. Like Floyd, Khan’s fights are entertaining – win, lose or draw, so you always get your money’s worth. Floyd picked opponents who in your mind made it conceivable to think this would be the guy to smash his 0. For Khan, his chin is always in doubt regardless of the opponent but the fact that he keeps chasing after elite punchers is what makes things next level. He’s already called out Spence, Thurman, Brook, Crawford, and Broner – this after taking on Carne-lo! Many will dismiss this as crazy talk. But let’s take the words of a guy whose gone 10 rounds with Shawn Porter, 3 rounds with Spence and 1 round with Khan – Phil Lo Greco. According to Lo Greco, “Khan hits HARDER than Errol Spence and may even KO him”. Recall, Lo Greco was blubbery, slow and out of shape against Porter and Spence because he was called to duty two weeks before their bouts but still dragged them both into a war, whereas Khan gave Lo Greco 3 months to come in the best shape of his life yet easily KO’d him in 39 seconds! It’s no coincidence Mayweather avoided the King like the plague (even though most of his fan base voted for him to take on Khan). Even Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao ran scared over the years.
Like TMT, the King often says crazy things in interviews that make you shake your head and think WTF is this guy on. Just like fans pulled their hair out listening to Floyd make excuse after excuse about fighting his contemporary, Manny Pacman. Khan’s doing the same to the British fan base by making Kell Brook jump through hoops to earn a fight. He’s already told Brook to win a belt, drop Eddie Hearn, go fight GGG, take only 30% of the purse (leaving 70% for Khan), forget about the fight altogether. Straight up hilarious how deliriously frustrated the UK fan base is right now.
I would be remiss if we didn’t get into the numbers just a little. Not until fight number 40 (against Marquez) did Floyd go mainstream. That was the first fight when Floyd’s six streak of over 1 million PPV buys began; before that he was only garnering 300K buys (except for the 2 million buys in fight 38 which Oscar De La Hoya pretty much carried). Floyd was 32 years old at that point. Khan is 32 years old now and entering his prime with a 36-professional fight record. In other words, Floyd’s crossover rise wasn’t meteoric, and the King is right on time for his TMT-esque trajectory.
Moreover, Spence is 28 years old but only has 24 professional fights, Thurman is 30 years old but only has 29 professional fights, and Crawford is 31 years old with 32 professional fights. Not only are these talented guys inexperienced but none have been in against elite competition on a routine basis. Khan on the other hand has a who’s who list of world class opponents; Carne-lo, Maidana, Danny Garcia, Marco Antonio Barrera, Paulie Malignaggi, Zab Judah, Julio Diaz, Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander, Chris Algieri. That experience, with the fastest combos in boxing, and renewed power makes him the most complete and marketable WW in the world today.
Speaking of a global presence, none of the current WWs have any crossover appeal. Khan on the other hand is a well-known commodity in America, the UK and Asia, and has proven to put butts in seats in all three continents (he’s a star attraction when he visits Asia). Coincidentally the big money is no longer in America, just as recently as last year there were 14 world champs from the UK signaling a serious power shift. It appears the stars are aligning just perfectly. The great Mike Tyson once said, “the temptation for greatness is the biggest drug in the world”. Teamed up with the slick operator Eddie Hearn and backed by the dominant Sky Sports media conglomerate, Khan having the eye of the tiger is well positioned to take the throne as the King of Boxing. The irony of it all is that the King escaped the Mayweather curse by a razor thin margin all thanks to Floyd avoiding fighting him – fate can be fickle that way TMT-nation. Let the era of the new King begin!