There is a disturbance in the force of professional boxing. Floyd Mayweather, 48-0, appears to be gliding safely into retirement by fighting Andre Berto, a fighter that many argue will not provide the competition for such a high-caliber match. The fight is scheduled for September 9. The average person on the street might say, “Who can blame the man for trying to end his career on a high note without serious injuries?” But the boxing world is up in arms over the fight, believing that Mayweather has chosen a comfortable opponent he can beat with ease as he rakes in his $100 million and maintains his status as the highest paid athlete in the world. Adding color to the controversy, the champ says that the Berto fight will be his last. If he wins he will tie with the great Rocky Marciano for the best undefeated record in boxing history, 49-0.
To put it all into perspective, boxing followers should know that the Welterweight champion will not be in need of Social Security. His total career earnings total $630 million, which includes $220 million for his most recent fight with Manny Pacquiao. His first career fight earned him $8 million but when he beat Saul Alvarez on September 14, 2013 he was paid a whopping $75 million, which set the record for the biggest payout in boxing history until he fought Pacquiao last year. The champion’s net worth is estimated at about $400 million. He has won 48 fights, 26 by knockout, and he is undefeated.
Andre Berto, on the other hand, has a mixed bag of success. He is 30-3 but he has lost half of his last six fights. His most recent fight with Josesito López looks good in the record book but López had lost four of his last eight fights. This seems to reveal a boxer who has reached his potential and is definitely not ready for Mayweather. It might well be that Floyd Mayweather is indeed gliding safely into retirement.
The boxing world has some serious beefs with the Mayweather-Berto fight. Dan Rafael, senior writer for ESPN believes that one of the biggest criticisms of the fight is that Berto “has done absolutely nothing to earn the fight.” He added in his article that there are several fighters who are much more deserving of the match. He mentions Kell Brooke, who is the number one contender in Ring Magazine. Other choices could have been number three ranked Amir Khan, number five ranked Keith Thurman or number six Shawn Porter. To Rafael’s thinking these fighters were overlooked because Mayweather wanted to end his career gliding to the finish line.
The media criticism seemed to intensify during the time many observers thought he was avoiding a match with Manny Pacquiao. He has not been able to avoid the growing accusation that he avoids the fighters who might give him a serious challenge, if not beat him. This latest match up has only served to deepen the general feeling that he just wants to get his numbers in so he can be tied with Marciano and go down into history.
The champ has responded quietly but directly to the growing criticism. CBS Sports quoted Mayweather’s answer when asked what he will miss most when he retires. He responded, “What I will miss most about the sport… the haters. I will miss the jealous haters.” Obviously there is some animosity but for the most part he has taken the media criticism in stride. He has made comments about Berto being a tough competitor and putting up a good fight and bragging on his toughness. ESPN’s Rafael calls these responses “talking points” as if he had prepared his answers like a politician.
Despite all this there are still a few analysts who think the criticism is not justified and that Berto could win the fight. Bobby Ilich, sports editor at the International Business Times, has written a piece in which he explains how Berto can win. Berto must do three things: 1. Pick rounds to be effective, 2. Move around and make Mayweather come out of a defensive posture and 3. Throw lots of punches in the middle rounds. So, the task may not be impossible, as some have implied.
The media narrative that Floyd Mayweather is gliding safely into retirement could end up being proven false. As many athletes and pundits have said, “That’s why we play the game.” Indeed, that is why this match will be fought. All of the negative media and fan hysteria would be completely silenced if a man named Andre Berto decided it was time for the greatest upset in the history of boxing.
By Lloyd Gardner
ESPN.go.com: Floyd Mayweather Fight Andre Berto Obvious Mismatch
RingTV: Crave Online.com, Welterweight Ratings
USA Today.com: 2015/08/ Floyd Mayweather Andre Berto Why you Shouldnt Watch
Celebrity Networth.com: Richest Athletes, Floyd Mayweather Net Worth
International Business Times: Andre Berto can Upset Mayweather
Photo courtesy of Bryan Horowitz’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License