Floyd Mayweather has carefully cultivated a public image that he thinks he is the greatest fighter in boxing history, more skilled than Robinson or Ali. There is no blueprint to beat him, he claims, because he’s never been beaten.
But privately, Floyd is well aware that he can be brutally knocked out. Deep down Floyd knows the welterweight competition is so talented and violent, that top tier, prime gladiators like Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and Manny Pacquiao could potentially cause him permanent physical damage.
“When I’m 50 or 60, I want to be able to know my kids, and I want them to know me. I want all five senses to be sharp, sharp as a razor,” says Floyd. “I want to be able to live my life. That’s one thing I’ll say about my father, he gets around real, real good. My mother gets around real, real good. I want to be like that.”
With the brutal violence and relentless physical assault that Cotto and Mosley and Pacquiao surely would inflict, it makes sense that the protected Floyd would opt to handpick a featherweight like Juan Manuel Marquez. He knows Marquez won’t be able to hurt him and he can safely have his way with his skills.
But how would Floyd’s majestic skills be able to operate under the constant and complex pressure that Cotto, Mosley and Pacquiao will put him under? Will HBO and Golden Boy step up and make any of these fights happen? Or are HBO and Golden Boy content to stage second rate exhibitions with Floyd versus carefully handpicked opponents?
After he defeats Marquez, look for the HBO interviewer to ask Floyd about facing the Cotto-Pacquiao winner. Floyd will probably say what he said last time when asked by Larry Merchant about boxing Cotto: “I will retire from boxing, boxing won’t retire me.”
Floyd is a great fighter. One of the best of this era. But in the view of many, Floyd’s skills are overshadowed sometimes by the fact he is also an excellent selector at choosing the right opponents at the right time to look great against.
Until Floyd takes the risk and challenges Cotto, Mosley or Pacquiao – and faces the risk of a top threat, including the risk of potentially suffering brain damage – questions will remain about if Floyd is really just a great pretender.