By Sean Crose
Imagine, if you can, Marcos Maidana actually defeating Floyd Mayweather on Saturday night. Say the rematch proved to be a repeat of the first fight – only the second time around Floyd was somehow unable to make adjustments. Or say the rematch took a “long count” turn sans the long count – in other words, Maidana got his man on the ropes and punched him to the canvas for a ten count. The world would be stunned. Boxing would actually knock the NFL off the weekend headlines for once in what seemed like ages. The sport, without question, would be back in the spotlight.
How long would it stay there for, though?
To be sure, a Maidana victory on Saturday would be good – very good – for boxing in the short term. People would be talking. People would be paying attention. People would be looking forward to the rubber match (just imagine the kind of money, press, and buzz THAT would bring in!). What would happen afterward, though? What would the long term results of a “tainted” Mayweather record be? Perhaps not very good. Then again…
The truth is that Mayweather has been as economically successful as he as at least in part because of the big deal that’s been made about his never having tasted defeat. The last time such a fuss was made over the number zero, Larry Holmes ended up with a tarnished reputation (at least, that is, until time allowed for that great champion’s career to be reassessed).
While a single loss can often be overcome in boxing (iconic fighters like Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Joes Louis, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman made out just fine with a marks in the “L Column,” thank you very much) such special attention has been given to Mayweather’s “zero” that anything other than a pristine record will reek of failure.
That’s as much Mayweather’s fault as it is anyone else’s – if not more so. Yet it doesn’t take away from the fact that a loss would greatly tarnish Money’s reputation. Even if he were to win a third fight with Maidana, things would never be the same. As Sade once sang, “it’s never as good as the first time;” or, in Mayweather’s case, the first forty-six times.
Yet a Mayweather defeat might create just enough extra attention for the sport to thrive until the next big name in boxing takes his spot on the throne. Floyd isn’t going to be fighting indefinitely, after all. Sooner or later, another fighter is going to have to take his spot as the fight game’s premiere attraction. With pay per view buys in decline, boxing could well use a shot of adrenaline before the inevitable changing of the guard occurs.
It’s also worth noting that a huge upset can often send the sport in a whole new direction. When Douglas knocked out Tyson, for instance, a new heavyweight era was ushered in, one featuring the likes of Holyfied, Bowe, and eventually Lennox Lewis. Each of those men was at least the “B” of Tyson’s “A side” before “Buster” stunned the world. Yet that single fight opened the door to a whole new age in the heavyweight division (people forget that Tyson was never able to dominate the heavyweight ranks the same way again).
Perhaps, then, a Mayweather loss would prove beneficial to boxing both in the long and short terms. The truth, however, is that one never knows. In order for the world to find out what the defeat of a prime (or nearly prime) Floyd Mayweather would mean, Mayweather would actually have to lose first. And the man makes that act of beating him very difficult to accomplish. Just ask the forty-five men he’s bested in the ring.