Boxing needs the unrivaled star power of Floyd Mayweather Jr, but his mass appeal also has it’s draw backs for the sport as a whole.
When Floyd is in search of a dance partner the floor clears.
Almost every welterweight anywhere near the top 15 keeps their date book empty so as to give themselves a chance to win the famed Mayweather sweepstakes. It is understandable, of course. Fighting “The Best Ever” offers the sort of financial reward that can be found against no other opponent. Likewise it provides one with the opportunity to become an instant star.
The problem is that this dangling carrot has the ability to bring one of boxing’s most talent packed divisions to a near stand still. Thus fans are robbed of quality action, and the fighters who sit on the sidelines, waiting in hope, are sacrificing months of their short primes.
The best example of a fighter that has been bitten by this phenomenon is England’s Amir Khan.
The talented Olympic silver medalist gave up over a year of his career as he sat, tightly clutching his Mayweather millions ticket for most of 2013, and into 2014. In fairness to Khan, he seemed on the verge of securing the fight until Floyd swerved him at the eleventh hour in favour of Argentine misanthrope Marcos Maidana.
Mayweather’s fickle and cruel nature is as good a reason as any not to put ones career on hold for hope.
Yet Khan was, again, one of the desperate begging faces in the crowd when Floyd was eyeing a September date this year. All other opponent’s were out of the question as far as Amir was concerned.
Once again, however, it seems Khan has been jilted, as the apple of his eye is likely to face the undeserving Andre Berto instead. Since that news emerged Khan has sprung into life. He is now entertaining the idea of a Manny Pacquiao bout early next year, and has even approached Eddie Hearn about the potential of a long awaited clash with fellow Brit Kell Brook.
He isn’t the only one to have awoken from his slumber. Keith Thurman, who admittedly hasn’t been inactive this year, is also publicly opening up to other options. In an interview with Michelle Phelps, Thurman declared that he wants Khan next time out.
These are positive developments. Of course, as of yet this is only talk, and the looming shadow of Mayweather could still scupper such fights from happening.
According to boxingscene.com, Thurman doesn’t believe that the Berto fight will represent the pound for pound king’s swan song, despite Mayweathers claims to the contrary. If other big name welterweight’s share his beliefs they may continue to play it safe to keep themselves in the running for a shot.
In his last fight Thurman beat a past his prime Collazo. It was a bout that was certainly an attempt at risk management, although it turned out to be a more difficult task than Thurman’s team had bargained for. Likewise, Amir Khan faced off with the light punching Chris Algieri, a fighter unlikely to take advantage of Khan’s most apparent flaw – his punch resistance, or lack thereof.
Looking at the injection of energy the division gets once a Mayweather date is off the table gives one hope that his eventual retirement will have at least some positive effects.
When Floyd does decide to call it a career he may leave the sport without an immediate star replacement. In the short term that will be detrimental, but in the absence of a get rich and famous quick option, the top talent of the welterweight division will have no choice but to do battle with one another. This will be good for the sport.
The inevitable frenzy of activity inspired by the power vacuum Mayweather leaves behind may also be the very thing from which the identity of boxing’s next true superstar will emerge.
Interesting times lie ahead.
Here is the aforementioned interview with Keith Thurman.
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