No thank you, Floyd Mayweather. Hard pass, Logan Paul.
This is starting to turn boxing into a farce. The superstar ex-boxer and the social media celebrity are apparently planning to, ahem, box each other on Feb. 20 in an exhibition match.
When Mayweather wanted to fight Conor McGregor in 2017, I didn’t care for the idea, but two overriding points made me feel better toward that event than I do toward this one, if it actually comes together.
First, while McGregor was not a professional boxer and had next-to-no shot to win, he was a professional fighter and knew how to take punches and defend himself. Such is not the case with Paul.
And second, it was obvious that the fight between Mayweather and McGregor was going to do big business. So how do you argue against someone making a nine-figure payday in one night?
There were some UFC fans who felt McGregor had a chance; if it were an MMA fight, he would have embarrassed Mayweather, but he never stood a chance in a straight boxing match. But they were the two biggest fighting celebrities of the generation and people would watch.
Paul is actually a pro boxer, but his resume consists of one fight against a fellow YouTuber, KSI, which he lost.
Paul is a cruiserweight who will have roughly a 50-pound weight advantage. But he’ll have about as much of a chance of winning the fight as he would beating Usain Bolt in a 100-meter dash.
Mayweather and Paul are showing yet again that boxing is no longer about talent, training, conditioning and winning one’s fights. Rather, it’s name recognition and treading on celebrity.
Mayweather is one of the greatest boxers who ever lived. He’s clearly the best of his era and he’ll rightly be elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame sometime this month. They’d need four or five plaques in the Hall of Champions to fit his many accomplishments.
Paul is a skilled and talented marketer with a shrewd sense of what young people want, and he’s a good businessman. But if he actually steps into the ring against Mayweather, he’ll be the farthest thing from a boxer that Mayweather has ever met.
They’ll probably sell significantly well on pay-per-view; there are going to be people who will insist that those who say Paul has no chance are haters and that Paul’s size will give him a chance to win. As a result, they’ll purchase it to see it.
Two of boxing’s best fighters competed for the unified welterweight title on Saturday in Arlington, Texas. Errol Spence Jr. was brilliant and routed Danny Garcia, who had never in his illustrious career been handled so easily. Spence retained his IBF-WBC belts by defeating Garcia by scores of 116-112 twice and 117-111.
But the Spence-Garcia fight will come nowhere near the pay-per-view numbers generated by the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones card put on by Triller a week earlier. That fight, because of the nostalgia for Tyson and the notoriety of Paul’s brother, Jake, who fought an ex-NBA player on the undercard, sold well over 1 million.
Mayweather and Logan Paul will suck the oxygen out of professional boxing in late January and throughout February, if it indeed happens. They’ll garner an overwhelming amount of media attention and then people will be angry and disappointed at what they got for their money.
Even at nearly 44 years old and at 3 1/2 years out of the ring, Mayweather will box rings around Paul, despite the weight gap between them. And if Mayweather wants to knock him out, he’ll do it and he could almost pick the round.
The fight will line their wallets, but it will continue to harm boxing because it will make it appear to be even more of a sideshow than many casual and non-fans already believe it is.
There are many great young talents in the sport as well as elite world champions who are well worth watching every time out. Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue is a breathtaking fighter whose speed and power would play in any era.
Spence is a shrewd, strong and agile fighter who has the perfect foil in WBO champion Terence Crawford to make a super fight.
Canelo Alvarez remains a compelling figure and the lightweight division, including unified champion Teofimo Lopez, Gervonta Davis, Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia, is outstanding.
There are business issues that prevent boxing from being run the way the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball are run in which athletes and owners can both profit and have the ability to become fabulously wealthy.
The ugly truth is that the overwhelming majority of boxing shows lose money, and large amounts of it. There are a handful of fighters who consistently earn large purses, but many, many more boxers struggle to get by.
Mayweather and Paul will exploit their celebrity and get rich, but it will be boxing that takes the hit. This fight has nothing to do with boxing and everything to do with opportunism, but when the torrent of criticism arrives after the fight, it’s going to be this sport that takes the brunt of it.
Hopefully, the fight won’t happen and the stakeholders can go about fixing boxing’s myriad issues.
But if it does and you feel the need to criticize, don’t blame boxing. Place the blame on Mayweather and Paul solely, and nowhere else.
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