Every sixteen or so moons, we are gifted with another glimpse of the second wonder of the boxing universe, a Floyd Mayweather Junior fight. Second not because Floyd is second to any other, because he is not, but second because the other wonder, Manny Pacquiao, boxes more frequently in a style that many if not most have determined is far more entertaining. But this is not about just about Floyd and/or Manny. This is about legacy; something earned not given.
Floyd Mayweather owns something few other boxers in history have been able to boast; an undefeated record. And he treasures it with his life. He places immeasurable value and weight on maintaining it. He is obsessed with it as he is obsessed with his place in history. No one can be certain of how history will regard them but Floyd, it appears, is certain of one thing. If he can fight when he wants and who he wants, his chances of losing are far diminished. And thus his chances of retiring undefeated are substantially increased.
Now boxing is a hard business and Floyd, having been born into it, knows it. He fights as or more intelligently as any boxer before him. When he fights. I am not talkng about just the frequency of fights but the frequency of his fighting, within the ring, between the bells.
Fans come to see fights. More often than not, not merely to see a fight, but to see a fight break out. To see men challenge themselves. Taking risks. Seeking them in fact. We like to see the stuff of which men are made, not when they choose but when their moment has been chosen. By design or by fate. It is in those moments that we see into the character and soul of a fighter.
Before Floyd the terrific Joe Calzaghe retired undefeated. The achievement is undeniable and far be it for me to say that he was not indeed the most talented man in his division. But he and Floyd, for very different reasons, share a similar problems; heir visibility and their competition. Joe Calzaghe would have benifited by having been seen more often outside of his native UK and Europe. Floyd would have and still could benefit merely by being seen more often. Both would have benefited by seeing out competition no matter where. Or when.
History looks for ways to define its characters. Boxers who look for characters to define themselves become history. Ali did not need to fight Joe Frazier three times. He chose to. Leonard did not need to choose to fight Roberto Duran toe to toe in Montreal. He chose to. Holyfield, with an arrythmic but huge heart did not need to seek every challenge. He chose to. These men did not wait for history. They sought it. And history will not forget them.
If you don't think history is brutal, ask Larry Holmes. He beat every heavyweight in his division when the heavyweight division was still the place to be. His not having beat the names we wished he could habve fought had nothing to do with Larry. He fought frequently and he fought them all. And he beat all but a few. He was a great heavyweight (at one time 48-0) and yet history has yet to fully define him. Talk about leaving the decision up to the judges!
Floyd wants us to remember him. True boxing fans want to remember him. The task is made difficult if either party is unwilling. Floyd needs to stay visible. He needs to fight. One time every sixteen months as a welterweight is not the stuff of legend. Nor, in this fan's mind is it the stuff of legacy.