The tickets sales tell their own story. If this is to be Floyd Mayweather’s final engagement, and few believe it is, who cares? That is the resounding message at the turnstile in Las Vegas.
Only Mayweather thinks Andre Berto is a fitting opponent. He is, if the point is to sign off with a knockout. Berto has been chosen to embellish a card that stands at 48 and 0. Chosen is the key word here.
The great fighters take on all-comers, accept the challenge when it is offered. Berto was not among those with his hand up when Mayweather announced his 49th would be his final bout. He was not screaming ‘take me’ because Mayweather was not on his radar.
Why would he be after three defeats in his last six fights? Mayweather, laughably, compares Amir Khan’s record with Berto’s highlighting his three defeats. The difference is Khan has not lost for three years and has five wins behind him since the last defeat.
Khan has his flaws. He also has fast hands and comes to fight. He is therefore a gamble. Berto is not. It’s strictly business, says Mayweather, unwittingly exposing the risk-averse reflex that diminishes him in the light of others at boxing’s high table.
It is not that Mayweather lacks heart. Whenever his legs have been stiffened, by Diego Corrales in 2001 for example, by Luis Castillo a year later and even our own Ricky Hatton early in their meeting eight years ago, he responded like a champion.
But he has never allowed himself to be tested enough. He is the best match-maker the game has seen, cherry picking opponents at the right time and on his terms.
Corrales was fried at the weight. Having announced previously that he was cooked at 130 pounds, he took the fight because of the dollars it brought.
If Mayweather was serious about truly challenging himself he would not busy himself with conditions that favour him. If he were certain in his belief that he is the best, which might be true if only he would test the proposition, then by definition there is nothing in the armoury of others that might trouble him.
And we can forget talk of retirement. For him this is an elastic concept. He retired for the first time in 2006 after beating Carlos Baldomir. A year later he retired again after the Hatton fight.
Retirement does not nourish the ego, nor does it put money in the bank. And we know nobody appreciates readies like Mayweather.
This is the last of six fights in his Showtime contract. He is a free agent with a chance to surpass the great Rocky Marciano and reach 50 undefeated.
He could put another 100 million dollars in the bank before he reaches 40-years-old in February 2017, especially when Manny Pacquiao calls him out for the rematch. As he will.
See you next year, Floyd, for ‘Comeback III’.
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