By Ivan G. Goldman
I disagree with Jim Lampley’s conclusion that Floyd Mayweather threw some rounds against Conor McGregor last August so he could set up a rematch and another easy payday. The scenario is plausible but almost certainly wrong.
It’s always a little delicious to wonder whether a complex, much bigger story lurks behind what seems so obvious.
That’s why plenty of otherwise sane folks agree with talented crackpot filmmaker Oliver Stone that Richard Nixon, LBJ, the FBI, the CIA, the Pentagon, and oh yeah, the Mafia, all worked together to assassinate JFK and blame it on a hapless Lee Oswald. But enough with science fiction.
One reason Lampley’s idea is actually worth considering is that Floyd calls himself “Money” for good reason. He wouldn’t be terribly opposed to scooping up another few hundred million dollars in exchange for another easy fight. There’s no doubt that in his last outing he wasted rounds just watching his opponent without launching much of an offense.
Yet there’s one big problem with Lampley’s view of events. Doing just enough to win is the way Floyd fights.
The only thing atypical about this one was that he actually went in for the kill and stopped his dog-tired opponent in the 10th. In fact, Mayweather poured on more pressure against McGregor than he usually does.
Cage-fighter McGregor had never fought a pro boxing match in his life and was used to the more abbreviated MMA form. So waiting for him to tire himself out before finishing him off arguably made pretty good sense.
Although most world-class fighters will go for an early knockout if they sense it’s to be had, Mayweather just doesn’t operate that way. If an opponent behaves himself, Floyd tends to make a silent deal that promises not too much violence in exchange for a civilized ending. There’s no reason to be shocked when that’s how the match turns out.
Eleven years ago the totally outclassed Carlos Baldomir was just too slow and heavy-footed to get anything accomplished, yet Mayweather, in complete control, was content to make every round look the same. None was thrilling. Fans not only booed but in many cases walked out early. When’s the last time you saw fans leaving a big pay-per-view championship fight before the final bell? It wasn’t the sport’s finest moment.
Six months later when Floyd defeated Oscar De La Hoya by split decision it was pretty much a repeat of his performance against Baldomir even though the diminished Oscar was approximately three times the fighter Baldomir was.
If you put up the cash to see him take on Andre Berto two years ago in what was advertised as Floyd’s farewell fight, you saw him follow the same plan there too. Sharp, stinging but not overwhelming shots and not much in the way of combinations. All combined with breathtakingly good defense. Robert Guerrero? Canelo Alvarez? Same story.
In all these instances Mayweather promised fireworks and ended up delivering snooze city. Against Manny Pacquiao he followed the formula against basically a one-armed fighter. It was another one of those fights of a century that wasn’t even the best fight that weekend.
Let me point out here that Floyd is in fact a tough, truly gifted boxer, one of the best ever. The man puts in his work in the gym and it shows. Come fight time, he handles whatever’s in front of him. And yes, he has on occasion been in some truly sensational contests. Diego Corrales, Miguel Cotto, and his first outings against Jose Luis Castillo and Marcos Maidana all come to mind. But because few opponents could test him, he generally switched to cruise control as he compiled his record of 50-0, 28 KOs.
So when Lampley or anyone else notes that Mayweather failed to do all he could, my question is this: What’s new?
Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class (Permanent Press, 2015) is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.