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News out of the Vegas-based Mayweather vs. “Easy Opponent” Camp this week is, well, that the self-style “best-ever” is training for a yet unconfirmed “easy opponent.” Much to the chagrin of members of his own family and Team, Floyd Jr. has indicated that he “deserves an easy fight” after putting it all on the line against Pacquiao.
As reported earlier his advisor Al Haymon had been hoping to put him in with Amir Khan this September going so far as to seat Khan and his father ringside at the May/Pac fight. After the fight Khan was approached by Mayweather’s management and was informed that he was next up. Haymon confirmed this and Khan went on his way convinced that the fight would be put together.
In the initial “negotiations” things started to unravel as Mayweather considered his likely opponent, his unusual boxing skill set, and determined that while Khan has had difficulty with fighters in the past, those fighters were punchers who matched up well against Khan. Money however has a different skill-set, he is a master boxer with a rather pillowish punch when compared to other fighters in his division. Khan poses a serious threat as his style would require a strong training camp, an unusually well-conditioned Mayweather, and a game plan that needed to be executed in exacting detail in order for Money-May to be assured of victory.
All of these requirements, given Mayweather’s relative greatness could be realized with a victory assured but following the daunting nature of what little Floyd just went through in training for Pacquiao, Mayweather determined that he was simply too mentally exhausted to prepare and “get up for” a fighter of Khan’s ability. Additionally, Khan would demand a rather sizable paycheck and the fight would be a pay-per-view fight with certain marketing expectations. In the end, Floyd Jr. with the self- imposed timetable of a September fight felt that it was in his best interest to take an easy opponent and thus satisfy his contract with CBS/Showtime. Enter one Andre Berto.
Camp and family members however are not pleased with recent news coverage of the prospective Mayweather vs “Easy Opponent” fight. Most see the step-down in competition as a potentially legacy-affecting move and would like to see Floyd Jr. finish on a strong note. Despite the fact that the fight is being sold as his last fight, Floyd Sr. has confirmed that a final May 2016 fight will follow. Again, insiders, despite ugly rhetoric to the contrary, confirm that Pacquiao is the planned opponent. Floyd Sr. has himself, in an unusual moment of candor, criticized his son for choosing the easy path. He recognizes how this might make his son appear to the boxing world. Floyd Sr. suggested that it would be better for his son to retire than to take easy fights.
Meanwhile Khan has suggested that Haymon himself is in the dark with regard to Mayweather’s final choice. That of course is what Khan is hearing from Haymon but one can safely assume that Haymon is not inclined to give an honest report to the likes of Khan. He has to placate the British fighter and is trying his best to juggle competing interests in his typical self-serving manner. While there are reports that the Berto negotiations are getting close to being finalized there is the slim possibility that Mayweather, given the nature of the internal pressure, may suddenly move in another direction.
Some in the press corps are suggesting that Mayweather is delaying the announcement of opponent to give himself an unfair and unsportsmanlike advantage by starting his training camp in earnest while keeping his future opponent in the dark. While this view has an air of plausibility around it the truth however is that the delay is really more a reflection of Team Mayweather’s vacillation and internal pressure to go one way verses another. Mayweather is not afraid of any particular fighter, he is more afraid of coming into a given fight flat and without motivation. Indeed, his biggest enemy at this point is continuing to fight top-level competition without top-level motivation and preparation. Even he recognizes that to be a recipe for disaster.
In coming days expect an announcement from the Vegas-based camp and a flurry of news articles speculating as to the why’s and wherefores of the Mayweather vs “Easy Opponent” selection. Camp insiders would like fans to know that nothing nefarious is going on, that the self-styled “best-ever” is afraid of no man but that he is indeed struggling with motivation and the labor-intensity of coming in to a fight in top-notch condition both mentally and physically. Boxing is a young man’s sport and even the great Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is getting older and a little tired. Here’s hoping for a well-rested Mayweather coming out victorious so the boxing world can see him take on a completely well and properly prepared Manny Pacquiao come next Cinco de Mayo.
By Matthew R. Fellows
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