Despite my personal preference for baseball and football, one of my first sports-related memories stems from the boxing ring.
Back in the summer of 1989, I took my dad’s hand and walked across the street to a neighbor’s house to watch Mike Tyson take on Carl Williams. It wasn’t a thrilling match — my dad didn’t make it out of the bathroom in time to see the first round knockout — but the rest of the screaming neighborhood crammed into one basement with the Pay-Per-View feed was my introduction into how great sports could be for a spectator.
Even as my attention drifted to other sports over the years, I still found plenty of appreciation for any fight I came across. As boxing began to dwindle in popularity and other fighting sports took center stage, I wanted to still appreciate boxing for the strategy and psychology involved instead of cheering for someone in MMA to get choked out or have an extremity bent in the wrong direction.
This weekend features the biggest bout in a decade — if not more — as Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao square off Saturday night.
But I don’t think I can bring myself to watch it.
Before even discussing the $99 price tag attached to the fight, there’s the bigger matter of what this match is actually celebrating. Sure, there is a welterweight title and — in Mayweather’s case — an undefeated professional record on the line, but the troubling thing is that neither of those topics are getting much airtime.
As far as many — including me — are concerned, Mayweather’s 47-0 professional record means a whole lot less than his career 0-5 record in the courtroom concerning various assault charges against women. Honestly, what kind of sport are we supporting where any non-celebrity and/or millionaire with the same track record in his personal life would even be allowed out in public, much less entertaining the masses?
The answer to that question is, sadly, the second talking point receiving the majority of the airtime.
The glitz and glamour of Las Vegas is no stranger to the world of boxing, but even ‘Sin City’ is blushing a bit at the nearly $120 million purse being awarded to Saturday’s fighters.
If you’re looking into why such a huge payout is coming down the line, search no further than Mayweather. Despite his mostly-reprehensible track record as a human being, he has used some incredible business acumen to parlay his boxing talents into a money-making machine.
And that’s not meant as a compliment.
Mayweather is earning the majority of the money for this fight, due to the fact that he has negotiated the terms on all of his fights recently. Looking at the generally uninspiring fighters Mayweather has defended his title against over the last few years, it’s become clear that his shtick is little more than a money grab.
He has used his controversial personal life and flamboyant lifestyle to promote himself as an icon more than a boxer. The fact that he’s fighting a bout that should have been fought a decade ago looks more like one final payday than an attempt to prove himself as a great fighter.
It’s really a shame. Boxing used to be about working your way to the top and then seeing how long you could stay there.
Mayweather has changed the game. Nowadays, it’s about being a star. To do that, he has chosen to duck dangerous matchups in the ring while taking free swings at the women in his life — and all to his own benefit as he continues to rake in the hype.
Personally, my advice for Saturday is to grab a few mint juleps, watch the Kentucky Derby, and get to bed at a decent hour.
Relevant boxing will still be dead when you wake up Sunday morning.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.