Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for a Floyd Mayweather Jr boxing match. And love it or hate it that means that boxing discussion over the next few months is going to be dominated by talk of him, his career, his opponents, his personal life, his place in history, his matchmaking and pretty much anything else both his “haters” and “fanboys” can think of to say about him. Opinion is certainly polarized; to some he’s the greatest of all time, a masterful boxer better than any to come before him who has never ducked or avoided anyone. To others he is a sham, a fraud, a boxer who cherry picks overmatched opponents, ducks anyone who may be a danger to him and who wins matches by running from his opposition. It’s easy to get lost in the chaos of a discussion about Mayweather Jr so below are a series of pointers on how to navigate a discussion about Mayweather without looking like a fanboy, hater or fool.
More than one person has been made a fool of trying to predict Floyd Mayweather Jr’s next move. Not so very long ago after all, it was seemingly guaranteed that Mayweather’s next opponent would be Amir Khan. The announcement never happened… and next came a fan poll on who it would be. The results of this were somewhat confusing; on most boxing sites the answer was Marcos Maidana but on the official poll Khan (helped by a lot of twitter advertsing) had a late surge to take the lead. And of course, there had been rumours and “exclusive reports” long before that.
But now it looks somewhat definitive. Khan himself says that he’s out of the running and that Maidana is the one about to earn millions of dollars and the chance, however remote, to enter his name in boxing’s history as the man who defeated Mayweather.
I’ve been pretty dismissive of the Khan bout previously but despite that I can see why it was an attractive option. Khan has many flaws but what he undoubtedly has is speed. Khan would be the fastest opponent Mayweather has faced since at least Judah and arguably the fastest he’s ever faced. Much of Mayweather’s success has been built on being the faster man, pot-shotting and picking off opponents from the outside; could he do the same against someone quicker than him? Maidana in contrast, despite technical improvements shown in his recent run that culminated in his defeat of the heavily hyped “new Floyd Mayweather” Adrien Broner, is still very much a brawler, an aggressive and powerful puncher who likes to draw boxers into a fight. We’ve seen Floyd against those repeatedly… and he tends to win and win well.
Outside the ring Khan also seemingly offers a lot. Floyd likes to tap into other fanbases… it’s one of the reasons he boxes many fighters with Latino heritage, especially around Mexican Independence Day as it opens up that lucrative market. Khan may not bring them, but he does bring the UK fans and the UK has frequently proven itself as a solid money maker for boxers. Maidana in contrast may be a popular TV fighter but he has no real constituency to fall back on; fans of Maidana tend to be boxing fans as opposed to fans of individual boxers and thus would have probably watched anyway.
So how is it that Khan didn’t get the bout when he had so much in his favour?
It’s no secret that Floyd Mayweather Jr and talk of P.E.D use in boxing often go hand in hand.
Mayweather and those around him pretty much introduced the term “Olympic style testing” into the boxing jargon during the messy negotiations between him and Manny Pacquiao for their much delayed and still uncertain superfight. Some associated with Mayweather accused Pacquiao of abusing P.E.D’s, Mayweather demanded more stringent testing than the athletic commissions require and for whatever reason (and it wasn’t entirely clear what it was) Pacquiao turned it down. The entire thing was somewhat of a farce and none of the parties come out of it smelling of roses.
But as well as accusing others of P.E.D abuse, there have been a number of rumours about Mayweather and his own conduct. Thomas Hauser, one of the few journalists to really put any effort into looking at P.E.D abuse in boxing, has written about the whispers that Mayweather Jr himself failed three tests that were hushed up. But that’s not the rumour I want to focus on.
The one I wish to focus on has been around for a while, at least since Mayweather faced Castillo for the first time. In the build up to that bout the commentators mention how Mayweather had suffered from hand issues and had injected himself to deal with them. From there the rumour has grown, passed on through message boards and badly sourced articles to reach a current form that essentially goes like this:
Floyd Mayweather injects his hands with a dubious substance during training and for bouts. This substance is banned in most states and the reason Mayweather only boxes in Nevada is that it is the only state to allow it/he has a special deal with them which means he ignores it. Mayweather is thus is essence a drug cheat.
Let’s see if there’s any truth to this rumour…
I was literally in the process of writing a post setting out possible opponents for Floyd Mayweather and listing Amir Khan as an option but a somewhat unlikely one.
Saying that a Floyd Mayweather Jr -Amir Khan fight would “have a huge crowd of Brits showing up wherever the fight would take place,” Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefersaid that he would “have to see if that fight can be done.”
“With Amir, there is no secret that he and his team are pursuing a Mayweather fight, and Floyd Mayweather, right now, is enjoying his time off. We’re working on it to see if, in fact, it can be done.”
I’d stress this doesn’t necessarily make it a done deal; Mayweather Jr has floated possible opponent names in the past to see what the reaction is only to choose someone else (Devon Alexander was the last to get that treatment), but with Schaefer and Golden Boy saying it rather than someone from the immediate vicinity of Mayweather Jr this is bit more solid a commitment.