You haven’t seen the last of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. inside the squared circle just yet. Not by a longshot, people. There are still foes to conquer, still dollars to be made, still records to break and still minds to change.
Oh sure, his time in this game I call the fight racket is now close to the end. And after nearly two decades as a professional, after having run his record to 48-0, after having humiliated Manny Pacquiao and after having more money in his bank account than some small far-flung foreign countries – the time for Mayweather to fight no more is at hand.
There really is nothing left to prove. There is nobody else left worth beating up. A rematch against Pacquiao is laughable. What’s the difference if he straps another championship belt around his waist? A man can only have so many cars, so many houses and so many homes before none of it means anything.
So how does Floyd Joy Mayweather, Jr. go forth from this time and place?
He says he will fight once more and when he wins that one it will bring his ring record to 49-0, tying him with the great “Brockton Blockbuster” from Massachusetts – Rocky Marciano. Then he says he will be done. That he will hang up his gloves and walk away from the only occupation he has ever practiced. But 49-0 ties him with Marciano. It doesn’t have the same ring to it as the even numbered 50-0. And forever and ever, years from now, when he haunts the late night gaming halls in Las Vegas, strolls down the street in Grand Rapids or kicks back courtside for another NBA game – there will be somebody – a drunk in the crowd, a hater or somebody trying to crack the veneer to get under his skin that will bring up the name Marciano…
The high flying heavyweight champion Larry Holmes lived under the microscope of Marciano and the mythical 49-0 mark. Holmes made it all the way to 48-0 before he went down in flames to only crash and burn against Michael Spinks. Holmes was a bitter man then. He told the reporters to kiss him where the sun didn’t shine and that Rocky Marciano couldn’t have carried his jockstrap. He blamed his loss on the judges and the establishment.
Mayweather says he doesn’t think of 49-0. Says he doesn’t dwell on Marciano, whose last fight was in 1955. He says he’ll stop at 49-0 and that will be the end of it. That’s all supposed to happen this September. Then Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is having us believe that he will slink out of the ring at the MGM Grand Garden for the last time and strut away forever from all the money, all the fame and all the fortune.
Others have retired undefeated. Joe Calzaghe, the Pride of Wales, walked away at 46-0. Sven Ottke, a feather-fisted German, was 34-0 when he said “Auf Wiedersehen” to the fight game. Of course there was the great Mexican, Ricardo Lopez who retired at 51-0 – but he had a draw that stained his pristine record like red wine poured on a white rug.
A couple things about Mayweather that I have learned in my interaction with him over the years is this: (1.) He doesn’t like to be doubted, and (2.) He doesn’t like to be challenged. Here’s the thing you must understand: If he stops at 49-0 then there will be those that will doubt he could have broken Marciano’s record and ran the table to 50-0. There will be those, the drunks, the belligerent, the ill-informed and the haters that will challenge him about whether Marciano is his equal – or heaven forbid – better than he.
And therein lies the rub as the saying goes. Mayweather can’t walk away at 49-0. That ties him to Marciano forever. And when you go by the initials “TBE” which signifies “The Best Ever” you can’t live your life hopelessly tied to another for all eternity.
And that’s why, “my good friends” as old-time ring announcer Ed Derian would have put it, that 49-0 is not an option.