Floyd Mayweather stopped improving as a boxer in around 2006 when he ducked Antonio Margarito. Then he also wasted other opportunities to grow and evolve as a fighter when he ducked top guns Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley. Mayweather opted to take the easy way out every time by handpicking Marquez, Baldomir, Mitchell, Bruseles, and has thus remained basically the same one-punch at a time, defensive boxer he still is now. Yes, Floyd worked hard in the gym but you only really get better and gain confidence, by testing your skills against the best. You don’t get better by beating up on opponents you know you are going to beat.
You only get better when you are physically and psychologically challenged and you are able to overcome unknown obstacles through your own cunning and guile. Let’s face it, Mayweather beat up on a bunch of handpicked no-hopers the last few years. Similarly, Roy Jones also stagnated his growth as a boxer with all the easy fights HBO gave him. And then when it came time to face a dangerous rival in Antonio Tarver, he couldn’t cope.
By contrast, Manny Pacquiao has developed into a superhuman, awe-inspiring wonder of the world, because he showed no fear or hesitation in the face of danger. Pacquiao innately has that self-confidence to test himself, regardless of the magnitude of the risk. And Pacquiao not only found a way to triumph but he thrived in spectacular style each time. He has astonished and inspired the world with the amazing performances of totally dominating Hatton, Oscar and now Cotto. The sports world is in awe of this marvel of a man and his incredible courage.
Mayweather had the potential to be a superstar also. But he lacked the confidence in himself and the courage to take the risks necessary to reach the very top. He never really reached the top, he just talked his way there and plenty of fools gave him his kudos without earning it. Floyd was never the #1 welterweight and he never will be until he proves it by beating the best. That is the only way you can become the best – you must beat the best.
If Mayweather would have fought and beat Margarito, Cotto and Mosley, when those fights were presented to him – instead of running away from them – his skills, confidence and sharpness, without question, would have evolved into a much higher form. But aside from that one sucker punch on Hatton, Floyd has been basically lackluster and hardly superhuman against De La Hoya, Marquez and Baldomir. The problem for Mayweather is simple: he lacks the courage to test himself, to put himself at risk against the best. And he has advisors and protectors who enabled him to always take the easy way out.
Now Mayweather does have the chance to challenge his skills against the best – Manny Pacquiao.
Many boxing fans are expecting to see this fight happen next. But those of us who know how Mayweather operates, are quite sure he is extremely uncomfortable with having to fight Pacquiao. He has been spoiled for years by being permitted to handpick all his opponents, why would Floyd now suddenly want to fight the most dangerous threat of all? Mayweather himself, though he would never admit it, has been shocked by the stunning performances of Pacquiao and realizes there is something very extraordinary about him. But all he’ll say is Pacquiao is a “good fighter.”
Mayweather has watched the gigantic improvements of Pacquiao and surely knows deep down his own improvement rate was limited and retarded by his own fears.
Can Mayweather stop the retardation process of his skills now by taking on Pacquiao – or is too late? It’s too late. He doesn’t have the power to nullify Pacquiao and so he can’t handle the all out, vicious intensity which will be brutally inflicted on him and he knows it. Mayweather will find some way to get out of the fight, whether it will be overpricing himself, fake retiring again, or concocting some other new, bogus excuse which remains to be seen.
Author of “Heavyweight Armageddon: The Tyson-Lewis Championship Battle” was called “A smashing success, one of the two best boxing books I ever read,” by Emanuel Steward.