Here is an early link to my Tuesday column about Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao. The full text runs below:
I don’t like Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
I like Manny Pacquiao.
I hope Pacquiao beats Mayweather Saturday night.
I hope Pacquiao knocks him out.
I object to Mayweather on two grounds — moral and athletic. Let’s handle the moral issue first.
He is a woman beater. He served time in the slammer for beating up his girlfriend in front of their small children. He complained he wasn’t comfortable in jail. A fight manager in New York said, “What did he expect? He went to jail not Princeton.”
Mayweather has been accused of battery several times. Bad guy.
I watched a TV documentary on Mayweather which asked why he’s allowed to fight in Vegas, make all that money.
He should be allowed to fight. He went to jail, did his time. In the NFL he’d have a problem getting work — see Ray Rice. But boxing has no strong governing body. And it does not protect its image like the NFL. In a strange way, a boxer having a bad image is good for boxing. Sonny Liston was a convicted felon. He also was heavyweight champion of the world. And then there’s Mike Tyson.
So, I defend Mayweather on that one point. I still want Pacquiao to knock him silly. I can’t stand a thug.
I object to Mayweather the athlete. This may also be a moral objection.
Aside from making a ton of money, Mayweather cares about only one thing in boxing. Being undefeated.
Mayweather does not care about fighting the best fighters or testing himself or being great. He cares about being undefeated. He fights fighters he knows he can beat, fighters who won’t threaten his record. His record is 47-0, and it’s one hell of a record. Better fighters than Mayweather were not undefeated. Sugar Ray Robinson, the best ever, lost 19 fights. He fought 200 times. Fought the best welters and middles the world had to offer.
Former heavyweight champ Rocky Marciano went undefeated as a pro, 49-0. He fought every important heavyweight of his time. Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, Joe Louis, late in Louis’ great career, and light heavyweight champion Archie Moore. These were Hall of Fame fighters and Marciano fought them all because he loved to fight and loved a challenge. He had a champion’s heart.
Floyd Mayweather never has fought anyone — not a single boxer — at the Walcott-Charles-Louis-Moore level. Why? Because Mayweather is afraid he’d lose. Or won’t risk losing. It’s unfair to say he has a coward’s heart as much as I want to. But he has a trembling heart, a cautious heart, a safety-first heart. The wrong kind of heart. Or no heart.
Here are other boxers with fighting hearts, boxers you’ve heard of. Muhammad Ali fought Liston twice, fought George Foreman, fought Joe Frazier three times.
Sugar Ray Leonard fought Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler.
Tyson ducked no one. Fought Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis and got his butt kicked. Spectacularly. He was a fighter. Also an ear biter.
Mayweather is a businessman. He weighs the risks. He is risk averse. He should have been an actuary.
He would not risk fighting Pacquiao when Pacquiao was good. He waited on Pacquiao until Pacquiao was shot. “Shot” is an important word in this context. “Shot fighter” in boxing parlance is someone who no longer has it. Absorbed too much punishment. Lost his punch. Got old. Pacquiao is 36, Mayweather 38. They should be on the Senior Circuit.
Manny Pacquiao is the Platonic ideal of a shot fighter. He almost was shot dead — in a sense. Two years ago, Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Pacquiao, knocked him cold for two minutes, Pacquiao lying face down on the canvas like a corpse.
At that moment, something must have stirred in Mayweather. His faint heart. Mayweather already had defeated Marquez, boxed his ears off, won a unanimous decision. Well, if Marquez, an inferior practitioner, could almost murder Pacquiao, there was hope for Mayweather. He took heart in his tiny heart.
All of a sudden, Mayweather expressed interest in a fight he had ducked for years. Yes, ducked. He had said Pacquiao used performance-enhancing drugs. He said that ruled out Pacquiao as an opponent. I have no idea about Pacquiao’s drug history. Or Mayweather’s, for that matter. But I know one fundamental truth about boxing. The fighter who makes the conditions, the fighter who raises objections is the fighter who does not want the fight.
Years ago, Wilfred Benitez and Hearns were hot welterweights. Hearns hit like a mule and Benitez had a weak jaw. One day Benitez’s manager, Jimmy Jacobs, came to my hotel room in Vegas, a room I shared with the great boxing writer Jack Fiske who got me into newspaper sports journalism. We asked Jacobs if Benitez would fight Hearns.
As I recall, Jacobs’ reply was. “I don’t want that fight for Wilfred. It’s not a good fight for Wilfred. I’ll ask for too much money. Hearns will decline. It will look like Hearns doesn’t want the fight.”
Hearns and Benitez eventually fought, Hearns winning an easy, dreary decision.
Mayweather raised the objections to the Pacquiao fight. Pacquiao always was willing. Has a fighter’s heart. A champion’s heart. Pacquiao will fight Mayweather Saturday even though Pacquiao is shot, his skills dim, his heavy punch a distant echo of what used to be. Mayweather will win an easy, dreary decision. Or he will get brave and knock out Pacquiao when he realizes Pacquiao cannot hurt him.
Mayweather is one of the best fighters I ever saw. Brilliant defense. Precise puncher. A genius in the ring.
But, I can’t stand the bum. I hope for a miracle. Pacquiao knocks him cold. Mayweather sits on the canvas for 10 seconds, his left arm draped over the bottom rope, his eyes vacant, his undefeated record defeated, his myth blown.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org