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Undefeated, Undisputed, Uninspired

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Undefeated, Undisputed, Uninspired

Posted on 11 September 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

 

Floyd Mayweather Jr is a lot of things. He’s marketing gold, a polarizing social figure, boxing’s bell cow, and arguably the best fighter of the last 25 years or longer (with all due respect to Roy Jones), but perhaps above all else, Mayweather is a con man.

Mayweather prepares to do battle with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on Saturday night in what is not only the most anticipated fight of the year, but also perhaps the most anticipated fight of Floyd’s prestigious career, and he’d have you believe that’s OK.

The truth is, it’s not okay. While declaring boxing “dead” has become popular public sentiment, it’s also wrong. The heavyweight division is in shambles, no doubt, and in weight classes where the best of the best athletes are scooped up by football and basketball and other (more forgiving) pursuits, boxing may never be the same. But in the lower weight classes boxing is still as good as ever, maybe better. And Mayweather, as the best-of-the-best, has succeeded in protecting the zero on the back end of his record, but he’s failed at delivering the great and compelling match-ups that defined the sport, and the welterweight division, as recently as the 1990’s. Therein lies Mayweather’s marketing genius, and therein lies the con.

One day, long after Floyd has hung up his gloves, people will look back at his fight records, and specifically his opponents and they’ll be impressed. The names on his resume ring out. What’ll be lost in that perception, what Mayweather is doing his best to hide right now, is that none of them got to face Mayweather at a time when they’d have been considered “in their prime”. The annals of boxing history are filled with great fighters who cleaned out their divisions; in Floyd’s case, he more fairly waited his out.

Make no mistake, Floyd is the best boxer of this generation and then some…it’s not even close. But as anyone who loves the sport can attest, anyone can be beaten on any given night. Therefore it’s been easier, and far more lucrative for Mayweather to avoid the fights we all wanted to see the most, or at least to delay them until the risks were significantly lessened.

By creating the brash, unlikable “Money” persona, and by talking the talk even better than he walks the walk, Floyd has made himself a sellable commodity. There’s interest in Mayweather, mostly because fans of good fights are hoping to see him get his comeuppance eventually. It leads us to believe (or want to believe) that the lesser opponents he routinely takes on might have a chance to beat him…because we hope so. As Floyd has continued to prove however, they can’t.

This weekend’s fight becomes interesting because it’s a slight deviation from the norm for Mayweather. He’s not fighting a guy who’s past his prime; instead he’s fighting a guy in Canelo Alvarez whose prime is probably yet to come. Canelo’s popularity may be peaking right now, but his skills will probably continue to improve for the next couple of years at least. So, Floyd’s getting him out of the way now.

It’s a risky proposition for Money Mayweather, but he’s offsetting at least part of that risk by demanding the fight be at a catch weight. Despite the fact that Floyd is at home at 154-pounds, despite the fact that he’s beaten World Champions at that weight, he negotiated the fight at a catch weight of 152-pounds, forcing Canelo to cut more weight than usual. It’s typical Floyd Mayweather, taking a deck that’s already stacked in his favor, and stacking it his way even further.

The truth is Mayweather shouldn’t (and probably doesn’t) need a catch weight to beat Canelo on Saturday. The fact is he shouldn’t have had to duck Manny Pacquiao or Antonio Margarito or Paul Williams. He shouldn’t have had to wait until Shane Mosley and Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto had been worn down and proven beatable before stepping into the ring against them. He could have and should have beaten them all, at their best, when those fights actually made sense. But he didn’t, and he remains the sport’s biggest attraction.

I’m excited about the fight on Saturday, but I’m not unrealistic about it. Mayweather will win easily, although not excitingly. He’ll avoid and frustrate Canelo, he’ll land his pot shots and get out quick and grind out a decision; then he’ll pat himself on the back, and pretend he did something special.

Mayweather is special, but his career, sadly, hasn’t been or at least not as special as it could have been…as it should have been.

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acc_1978

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Terps to the Big Ten

Posted on 29 November 2012 by Tom Federline

It just ain’t right. The University of Maryland is leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference to join the Big Ten (or is it 12, or 14, or eventually 24?), to “ensure the financial stability” of the sports department (possibly save 7 sports) and receive “academic benefits.” Pa-lease Wallace Loh and Kevin Anderson, we are not buying it. Just like the Iowa and Army alumni (respectively) that did not buy the oceanfront property in Kansas you tried selling them at your previous jobs.  It’s all about setting the University up for the conversion into the Five (5) Super-Conferences. It’s all about excuses to raise tuition. It’s all about the money. It’s all about football and basketball.

Nice Thanksgiving Week surprise, huh? Stuff this, U of M. Yeah, yeah, yeah……….financially it may help dig the powers at large out of the hole they dug and an attempt to save face from the ridicule and embarasssment of losing 7 athletic programs. I liked the Lefthanders quotes – “What is the matter? Why are they so broke?” How can a major state university mis-appropriates monies and drop 7 sports? I still can’t get over that one. With all the successes of mens/womens basketball teams, mens/womens soccer, mens/womens lacrosse, womens filed hockey, etc. I just don’t buy it.

The Atlantic Coast Conference to me: Clemson, Duke, NC, NC State, Vigina, Wake Forest, maybe Georgia Tech (1978) and of course the Terps. That’s what I grew up with. That is what I will always remember. I didn’t buy Florida State coming in (1991) and my goodness when the Big East started invading, I basically boycotted those games. My most memorable ACC basketball coaches: the Lefthander, Gary, Coack K., Dean Smith, Norm Sloan, Jimmy V., Terry Holland, Dave Odom (the otter) and Bobby Cremins. Those days are gone, but oh the memories.

So, who did you root for this past week in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge? I was all over Michigan – “Go Wolverines beat State! and “How ’bout them Stinkin’ Badgers - beat those Wahoos!” I don’ think so……..but it was (as always) ”Anybody but Duke. Go Buckeyes!”  Basketball is going to be interesting. Football……….Terps don’t have a chance.

Brace yourself for the five (5) Super-Conferences. That is where Collegiate sports is heading. Throw out the traditional geographically correct conference locations. Some rivalries will remain, some will start anew, some will become a distant past memory. It’s all about the money and bragging rights. Not that any of this is “fixed” or there has been some mis/re-allocation of funds, because that would just absolutely crush me. Gosh darn, I sure hope greed hasn’t entered into the picture.

The student-athlete? I guess it depends on the sport and the individual. The athlete (how much money can you bring in) – student (which is questionable with the football/basketball programs), is more like it.  Will this move ”fix” the supposed struggling U of M Athletics? Only time will tell. Maybe the powers at be needed NEW money? Not that any of this is “fixed” or there has been some mis-allocation of funds, because that would just absolutely crush me. Gosh darn, I sure hope greed hasn’t entered into the picture.

The Big Ten? Currently most of those schools are in the mid-west and north right? So, when are we going to Minnesoda on a road trip. Terrapin Nation be travelin’ well to Nebraska or how about Iowa? Those destinations on your “bucket list”? I wonder how easy it will be to get a football ticket in Ann Arbor, for Terps / Michigan? Ok, going to that stadium with a full house might be cool. But I’m doing it in September!

Bottom line – the “Times They are a Changin’” – (Bob Dylan). Accept and roll or divert your energies. As an “old schooler” and traditionalist – it just ain’t right. As a realist – bring it on. It’s all a little heavy to digest at the moment. On a positive, no more Carolina refs on a consistent basis. I have heard gossip about those corrupt Michigan refs though. You kiddin’ me? GO TERPS!

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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