Frank Warren’s Column – 18.09.15
By Frank Warren
Quit while you are ahead remains the oldest and sagest advice either at the roulette table or in the ring.
It is a maxim Floyd Mayweather Jnr asks us to believe he is about to follow. Whether we should take him at his word is the 64 million dollar question. No, in his case, make that the 640 million dollar question.
That is roughly what he says he has earned in his 19-year, 49-fight career and he insists he is getting out now with his marbles, and his money intact.
We’ll see. I am not convinced last week’s win over Andre Berto really was his last hurrah. And I doubt in his heart of hearts that either is he.
Others have done it, of course, prominent among them Rocky Marciano, whose record Mayweather says he is simply satisfied to equal, Lennox Lewis, Marvin Hagler and Joe Calzaghe.
To some, Mayweather may not be quite of that ilk. He is a guy nourished by celebrity, fed by his own ego. Rather like Muhammad Ali, in a way.
I am reminded of the remark by Joe Frazier when Ali, after telling the world he had retired on more than one occasion, inevitably unretired. “The trouble with Ali.” Frazier growled, “is that he doesn’t know how to die.”
And for all his millions, despite what he says now it may turn out to be the same with Mayweather. Wasn’t farewell the word he used after the Manny Pacquiao fight?
The $30million-plus he earned from picking off Berto’s matador-style will be crammed into an already overstuffed financial cushion but there is only so long a man of his mien used to living in the spotlight can stay in the shadows.
And without regular income from the ring he still has a seven-star lifestyle to maintain. He may not be the last of the big spenders but he is high up on that list. Fast cars, like fast ladies, don’t come cheap, especially when they are Lamborghinis, Bentleys, Bugattis, Rolls and Ferraris.
The Money Man is also one of Vegas’s high rollers when it comes to gambling. He likes a flutter as much he likes a fight. He may know when it is time to quit in the city’s boxing arenas but what about the casinos?
In Sin City, money can disappear faster than Usain Bolt sprinting down The Strip.
As his moniker implies, the Money Man loves the greenbacks almost as much as he loves himself. But he needs the cash to underpin the glory that goes with it.
Moreover, like so many big earners down the years, he is locked in combat with the one opponent none can beat; the tax man.
It has been ever thus from the days of Joe Louis with many retired champions having to pull on the gloves again to pay off what they owe the IRS.
Mayweather may be biggest earner in sporting history but how much of that reputed $600m or so has he actually kept? At least half of the $300m he trousered from the Pacquiao fight would have gone in taxes and expenses.
Money aside, it is hard to envisage a fighter of Mayweather’s ego and ability to exit stage left without making a curtain call, especially when the accolade of beating boxing’s most revered record awaits.
Last weekend’s ‘valedictory’ bout fulfilled his six-fight contract with CBS and Showtime leaving him a free agent should he decide to negotiate a record-breaking comeback next year.
Officials at MGM Resorts will no doubt want him to christen their new 20,000-seat arena that it is due to open in April.
There are plenty Al Haymon-advised young stars of the welterweight division waiting in the wings as a potential opponent, such as Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and Amir Khan. Then there’s always the possibility of a low-risk return with Pacquiao.
The mega-blockbuster of all, of course, would be Mayweather against Gennady Golovkin. But alas that’s a non-starter.
Mayweather’s father Floyd Snr is among those who believe his son will fight at least once more but sensibly says Golovkin would be just too big for him, which is bang on.
Mayweather has always liked to bring opponents down to his size, as he did Canelo Alvarez, which probably was his best performance.
As for that last weekend against the always beatable Berto, who by the way performed better than expected, it was the same old, same old. Hitting and not being hit. What more should we have expected.
As Berto said Mayweather was too fast, too clever, too crafty.
He always has been the maestro of the defensive art, utilising sublime natural gifts that make stand-out champions; dedication and discipline.
The best fighter of his generation? Unquestionably. Of all time? Not in my book. As an entertainer he simply wasn’t in the league of Ali or Sugar Ray Robinson.
Both Sugars, Robinson and Leonard, had the skills and boxing brain to beat him and I wonder how he would have coped with the long arms and concussive punching power of a Tommy Hearns.
But if he sticks to his word at least he leaves the game in better health and far richer than all of them.
At 38 Mayweather says he wants to use his own Haymon-backed promotional company to unearth and nurture a new Money Man. But I still suspect that deep down he feels there’s still life left in the old one.
So, goodbye or simply au revoir?
Like TBE’s good friend The Terminator, he’ll be back. Probably.
Pipe down, Evander
If Mayweather really is gone for good, there are plenty of glib epitaphs. One came from, Evander Holyfield, a gambler like Mayweather, sitting at ringside who churlishly claimed that Mayweather was the best ever “by the numbers only”, adding that the unbeaten record did not mean anything as Mayweather had fought no-one of note.
Not only untrue but how odd that Holyfield of all people should be so critical of someone who, unlike ‘The Real Deal’, hasn’t gone on too long and ended up broke or slurring his words. An example of the potless trying to call the kettle black, you might say.
Groves no ace for Jack
I feel a little sorry for George Groves. His split decision defeat by Badou Jack was a result that could have gone either way and had he not been fighting one of Mayweather’s men in Las Vegas he might be WBC champion today. But it wasn’t a robbery.
George gambled-and lost. He did not play his cards right and probably paid the price for that first round knock-down and not being quite positive enough.
I can’t help he wondering if he would have been better off taking the offer we made for him fight the Russian WBA Super-Middleweight champion Fedor Chudinov at Wembley. But he insisted he wanted to go down the WBC route.
On home turf he surely would have had a better chance he did in Vegas.
As I said last week, he was at the crossroads of his career and it is hard to envisage which direction he must take now.
At 27 he still has some good boxing years ahead of him and he is a resolute young man who keeps himself in shape. He’ll get work, if he wants it.
But the likelihood of his bitter rival James DeGale giving him an early crack at the IBF belt, even though they have unfinished business, is remote. Unless Groves is prepared to accept a comparative pittance.
A return with Badou seems equally unlikely as a Badou-DeGale unification scrap is already mooted and there is no chance of a quick shot at the winner of our upcoming WBA title fight between Chudinov and Frank Buglioni at Wembley on Saturday week as whoever emerges as victor is committed to a defence against Arthur Abraham.
I am afraid that Groves must accept that he is out of the swim at the moment and needs to tread water for a while. Just as long as he keeps his head above it then he’ll probably get another chance.
Josh bosh-and tosh!
Anthony Joshua’s so-predicable one-round felling of Gary Cornish to acquire the Commonwealth title told us nothing new about the young man Wladimir Klitschko reckons is the best heavyweight prospect in 25 years.
We always knew he could punch, but we still don’t know if he can take a whack.
It is easy to dismiss the giant undefeated Scot called The Highlander as a Cornish patsy, but he was supposed to provide the still-learning Joshua with his most rigorous examination yet.
The likeable Cornish’s unbeaten sequence of 21 wins had been achieved mainly against undistinguished opponents, but the truth was that he was punching above his class.
Joshua’s own unblemished record, 13 brutally brief excursions, had been equally nourished on the traditional heavyweight diet of old bruisers for young hopefuls.
I am not knocking that. Most modern heavyweight prospects from Ali through to the Klitschkos, via Frazier, Foreman, Tyson, Lewis, Bruno and co have been weaned on opponents of modest ability in their early contests.
But AJ’s promoter is talking a lot of Josh tosh when he claims that the Olympic champion would wallop Wlad right now.
Joshua has still to meet an opponent with both ammunition and ambition, who will rough him up. Then we’ll know what he’s really made of. And I suspect we’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Maybe Dillian Whyte is the man to rough him up when they meet for the British title, though on the evidence of his own performance in dismissing the hapless American Brian Minto he may not survive much beyond the 97 seconds Cornish lasted.
Whyte may be unbeaten himself, and have floored and defeated Josh when they both were novice amateurs (Joshua was also stopped in the European championships by the way, so he can be hurt) but he looks cumbersome and easy to hit. That’s meat and drink for Joshua.
Floyd Switched on by BoxNation
“I could not have chosen a better boxing channel than BoxNation to make my farewell.”
So said Floyd Mayweather of BoxNation’s exclusive screening of his 49th, and he says, final fight, against Andre Berto.
And he is in great company. The Golovkin-Lemieux and Cotto-Alvarez match-ups, both potential epics, will be shown by BoxNation in the coming weeks.
And if you go down the current list of the world’s best pound-for-pounder almost all have recently appeared on BoxNation. That’s why it is rightly called the Channel of Champions.