Monday, September 16, 2013
Even after Tyson's fall from grace, the spirit of boxing lived on in Sugar Ray Leonard, Pernell Whitaker, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Vitali Klitschko and Wladimir Klitschko. Millions of viewers would tune in to watch these men who were all driven by the same fire that drove Tyson to be the champ. Today's boxing has, however, taken a slightly different turn.
To be fair, Mayweather does have some knock outs on his record, but most of them occurred during the early part of his career when he was actually hungry to be the champ. Over the past few years, however, Mayweather has essentially cherry picked his opponents to ensure the path of least resistance. After a round of negotiations ended (which, to many, seemed more like stall tactics), Mayweather ultimately declined to fight the one lightweight contender who was poised to give him trouble: Manny Pacquiao. If there ever was a time when Mayweather was focused on defeating his challengers that day has come and gone. Today, Mayweather is concerned with one thing: getting money. Indeed, he topped the Forbes list as the #1 highest paid athlete in 2012 earning $85 million last year alone.
And that is the state of boxing today, folks. Get money at all costs. In fact, the official nickname for Mayweather's team is "The Money Team." This guy walked out to the ring on Saturday night flanked by rapper Lil' Wayne and teen pop singer Justin Bieber. Justin Bieber? Really?
When your number one concern is to get money in any profession, it shows. Sure, money is a motivating factor in just about any profession, but, generally speaking, professional athletes compete against each other to win. And when I say "win" I don't mean win by a technicality. No, they want to win hands down, flat out, without question. After all, it's that competitive spirit that motivates us to watch sports in the first place. If sports fans were only concerned with finding out who has the most money they'd get front row seats at Wall Street.
Muhammad Ali knocked people out. George Foreman knocked people out. Mike Tyson knocked people out. And in case people think I'm showing heavyweight bias, let me also note that Sugar Ray Leonard and Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker both knocked people out, respectively. Floyd Mayweather, on the other hand, dances around the ring for 12 rounds and runs the clock out.