Floyd Mayweather, Andy Warhol, and what it means to be American in 2011


by Hans Olson

Floyd Mayweather Jr. may never fight again.

Maybe because of the legal issues…

Maybe for a lack of determination…

Maybe for the seemingly comfortable finances…

Then again, it just might be that he was destined to do only what he has done; in the sport of boxing and otherwise.

Quite possibly the best pound for pound fighter on the planet has come to define what being American in 2011 is. We are all TMZ. We are all reality television. We are all rich and poor, all strong and weak. We are all Ambien. We are the 24 hour news cycle. We are a fumbling mess of skillful brilliance packaged alongside syrupy energy drinks. We are all Top 40 listening, independently-minded, corporate-adhering, living, dancing, glorious successful failures. We are all high-shooting, amazingly desperate anomalies behind on bills and ahead on rumors. We are cell phone breaking, egomaniacal, social networking, 60-hour-a-week on the clock masterminds. In America, we have the most leverage even if on the lowest level. Our highest highs are our successes, only topped with our lowest lows in excesses. Floyd Mayweather has managed to keep us wanting whilst at the same time forcing us to push him away. We want our “Fame Monster,” but can’t bear to hear it one more time this year.

Floyd Mayweather strangely exemplifies all that we are, with a career that has been one unparalleled in boxing. We need to understand why. Well, really…we don’t. But we want to understand why.

Why do we care?

Why don’t we care?

I can’t help but think we need to impart wisdom from another unparalleled life…

How about Andy Warhol?

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1. “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

Floyd makes money. Lots of it. He’s good at it. It’s why he is the most recognizable boxing name in America, even after having fought only a handful of times over the last few years. The business model may have not been strategic, but the results came nonetheless. Every pay-per-view he appears in will do over a million buys. Every endorsement he has will be rich with profit…every ridiculous publicity stunt will have interest attached to it. Financial interest even.

Let’s face it: Even outside the ring, Floyd is an artist.

2. “Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches.”
Whether they hate him or love him, pundits on both ends write about Floyd until their ink runs dry.

3. “The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet.”

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao

If it happens, it will be the biggest fight since the first Ali/Frazier bout.

If it doesn’t happen, the “what if’s” will still be debated for decades.

Either way, it will always be an exciting attraction that will define both Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather whether or not they actually fight each other.

4. “What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. “

See: Every episode HBO’s 24/7 involving Mr. Mayweather Jr.

5. “When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can’t make them change if they don’t want to, just like when they do want to, you can’t stop them.”

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is who he is. Simple as that. Stop trying to make it any other way.

6. “I never fall apart, because I never fall together.”

Careful matchmaking? Safety first style? Non-taker of risks? However viewed, he is still viewed by lots and lots of people…and most of them hate him for it. He who doesn’t take chances usually doesn’t get rewarded by those non-risks. Somehow, someway, Floyd has. And you know what? Floyd still got in the ring with some damn good fighters along the way.

7. “I don’t know where the artificial stops and the real starts.”

Who is Floyd Mayweather Jr.? I mean, seriously.

8. “The mystery was gone but the amazement was just starting.”

2007? 1996? 2011? Where did it start, and where does it end?

9. “Some people spend their entire lives thinking about one particular famous person. They pick one person who’s famous, and they dwell on him or her. They devote almost their entire consciousness to thinking about this person they’ve never even met, or maybe met once. If you ask any famous person about the kind of mail they get, you’ll find that almost every one of them has at least one person who’s obsessed with them and writes constantly. It feels so strange to think that someone is spending their whole time thinking about you.”

Strangely disturbing, isn’t it folks?

Finally…

10. “It’s not what you are that counts; it’s what they think you are.”

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I’ll be damned if the great Andy Warhol ever thought, or wasn’t thinking…possibly the greatest boxer of our time may be exemplified in words he voiced.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. may not be what you want him to be. Heck, he may not be what I want him to be. But he is, and he will continue to be, Floyd Mayweather Jr. He may not have Andy Warhol at his side defending him years from now…but it isn’t up to us to like him or hate him.

It’s up to us to see him, or not see him.

And in reality; in America at least…when we look in the mirror, we see Floyd Mayweather Jr. in ourselves.

And mirrors don’t lie.

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