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Why The Heck Is Floyd Mayweather Boxing’s Biggest Star?

Frank Lotierzo

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It was recently announced by Forbes Magazine that Floyd Mayweather is the highest-paid athlete in the world. It was estimated that he’s grossed over 90 million dollars in the last year and didn’t earn one dollar via endorsements. Meaning he made 50 million dollars more than the top-rated golfer in the world, Tiger Woods, and 40 million dollars more than the single best player in the NBA, Lebron James.

Today Mayweather is by far the biggest star in professional boxing. Aside from perhaps Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather is the most relevant fighter in the sport, especially in the United States. It’s gotten to the point that a Mayweather tweet, regardless of whether or not it’s about his next fight or an NFL/NBA game that he bet, keeps the Internet riveted for days at a time. When he fights, ESPN, which doesn’t even cross promote the fights they air on ESPN2, cover the weigh-in for his fights and discuss his personality and career impact on many of their rehearsed good guy/bad guy debate programs.

When one thinks about how Mayweather has become such a huge personality, it’s nothing short of astonishing. Think about it, back in the summer of 2005, Mayweather had to take less money than his opponent, the late Arturo Gatti, just to be part of the main event on a pay per view card. So the question that must be answered is why has Floyd been able to transform himself into the most significant fighter in professional boxing considering……………

*Mayweather wasn’t a gold medal winner at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta in which he participated in. Meaning that there wasn’t much ballyhoo surrounding his pro-debut like there was Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya. Actually, Mayweather’s teammate David Reid, the only American Gold medal winner during those games, garnered much more attention and hype than did Mayweather. Basically, Mayweather fought as a pro for nine years before most quasi boxing fans knew of him.

*Mayweather severely lacks the charm and charisma that superstars the likes of Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya had in abundance. Floyd isn’t interesting at all to watch or listen to during an interview. And he can’t converse during an interview regardless of the format without trying to convince the interviewer/audience of his greatness. He’s not particularly funny nor is he that insightful, at least that we’ve seen, unless he’s talking about his career. Ali and Leonard would be more entertaining watching an interview than Mayweather is participating in one.

*Mayweather has never been involved in terribly exciting fights. Part of that is due to his mastery of the ring and part of that is because he’s picked his spots when he finally met some of the better fighters he’s faced, especially since he’s campaigned above 135. For most fighters to be a draw, fans need to believe that regardless of the outcome they’re going to see something thrilling or exciting when they watch them fight.

*Mayweather’s style can really only be appreciated by sophisticated boxing observers. He’s not as fast or flashy as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Hector Camacho or Roy Jones were at their best. He’s more of a rich man’s Bernard Hopkins who takes what the opponent gives them and works off of that. Usually, only the real hard core fight fans enjoy watching a smooth technician work, fully aware that they’re probably not going to see a knockout or very memorable punches or exchanges the majority of the bout.

*Mayweather doesn’t destroy anybody. He doesn’t leave fighters splattered on the canvas the way the likes of a Bob Foster, Thomas Hearns or Roberto Duran did during his lightweight title reign. And that’s not a shot at him or his style because his style is one to behold if you know what you’re watching when viewing professional boxing at the highest level. However, the masses who buy Mayweather’s fights want to see knockouts and knockdowns, which cannot be taken for granted when Floyd fights. Yet, enough fringe boxing fans flock to see him when he fights?

Most of the time for a fighter to be the face of boxing, he must be an off the chart talent with charisma the likes of Muhammad Ali or Sugar Ray Leonard (or Roy Jones). Oscar De La Hoya was a huge draw but he was more of a media creation than he was a special fighter. Mayweather may be a little more cerebral than Ali and Leonard, but he wasn’t as skilled, fast or flashy. And unlike Ali and Leonard, Floyd has the perception of avoiding the fighter who at one time was viewed at having the best chance to beat him in Manny Pacquiao. Which is a shame because there has never been a night during the years they’ve been pros that Mayweather wouldn’t have conclusively defeated Pacquiao.

Mike Tyson was the face of boxing during most of his prime. Granted, Tyson’s victories weren’t against opposition that resembled murderers row, but he did get rid of all the B-level fighters he faced in an impressive fashion. Tyson was a draw because he could be hyped and promoted as a genuine life-taker, and his knockout record, despite the opposition, backed it up. So it’s easy to see why quasi boxing fans flocked to watch Mike Tyson. They didn’t care that he wasn’t facing Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier or a prime Larry Holmes, they just wanted to see him knock someone out.In contrast, as already established, most of Floyd’s fights don’t end memorably.

When you examine Mayweather’s career, there isn’t that one fight in which you’ll think about where you were 10 years from now when you watched it compared to some of the greats listed above. We’ve seen better boxers than Mayweather, faster and flashier fighters, bigger punchers and greater warriors than Floyd, yet his next fight against an unproven Saul Alvarez this coming September will dominate the boxing world the weeks prior to the fight.

I’m astonished that a fighter who isn’t among the top three boxers, talents, speedsters, punchers, warriors or charismatic personalities of the last 40 years who is known for safely managing his career, is clearly the standard bearer of professional boxing. And with his top five future opponents last names’ being Khan, Alexander, Garcia, Ortiz and Alvarez, that’s not likely to change.

One must conclude that Mayweather realized around 2005 that he wasn’t the kid next door and was best suited to be promoted as the bad guy, despite the fact that he’s more closer to being a decent guy who is insecure about his standing and legacy historically. Floyd learned the business of selling and hyping not just himself but his fights and what him partaking in them should mean to all viewers and fans. Add to that his pristine record of 44-0 (26), fans who root against him have a reason to watch him fight, hoping that they’ll see it live if he ever loses. In the mean time he’s laughing all the way to the dealership to buy his next Rolls Royce, Bentley and Lamborghini.

Mayweather wouldn’t be the face of boxing today if there was an Ali, Leonard, De La Hoya or Tyson around, but they’re long gone. Give him credit for being able to make a safety first counter-puncher who avoided the only fight fans wanted him to deliver, to become the face of what once was the greatest sport in the world. And to Mayweather’s credit, due to what he’s had to work with, he couldn’t have played it any better inside or outside of the ring.

Mayweather didn’t make one dime on endorsements in the last fiscal year, something which is unheard of for someone of that notoriety, which basically says most agree with what’s been said above. Mayweather’s not getting endorsements means that nobody actually cares about him, which makes his PPV numbers even more astounding.

Floyd Mayweather, although he really shouldn’t be, compared to past fighters who were the most important fighters in boxing, is the most important fighter/boxer in 2013. That is totally befuddling if you examine everything surrounding him in totality.

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Erickson Lubin Wins, But Misplaced His Hammer

David A. Avila

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Erickson Lubin misplaced the hammer but found a way to victory over Terrell Gausha by unanimous decision in a slow-developing WBC super welterweight eliminator on Saturday.

Lubin (23-1, 16 KOs), a southpaw slugger, was unable to lower the boom on Gausha (21-2-1, 10 KOs) at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. But he did enough in a tactical battle that only activated into a real fight in the later rounds.

Back and forth the two super welterweights mostly feinted and fired blows at each other’s guard. Few managed to pierce for scoring blows and those that landed were mostly to the body.

“It was a chess match. I respected what he had, he was trying to counter what I had. My trainer was telling me to be cautious and not get hit with anything stupid,” said Lubin, whose trainer is the respected Kevin Cunningham.

Gausha, 33, was the more accurate puncher but fired less than Lubin. Though he seemingly scored more often with counter rights, the scarcity of his blows allowed Lubin to control the pace of the fight.

It wasn’t until the mid-rounds that Gausha stepped into a slightly quicker pace. In the 10th, a short right connected and wobbled Lubin who covered up.

“I knew I had hurt him, but he was able to recover,” said Gausha, 24, who tried to finish off the hurt fighter but was unable to land another scoring blow.

“I’m in shape and I was able to recuperate,” Lubin revealed.

It was still unclear who was winning the fight. In the 12th and final round Lubin stepped up the pace and connected with a crisp right hook that clearly snapped the head of Gausha. But he fought his way out of the dangerous corner.

After 12 rounds all three judges scored it for Lubin 115-113, 116-112, 118-110.

“Gausha is a tough competitor, he’s at the top for a reason,” said Lubin. “I feel I beat one of the top 154s and I’m going to keep doing that.”

Gausha was classy in defeat.

“I take my hat off to Erickson Lubin. He was the better man tonight,” said Gausha.

Lubin now awaits the winner between Jermell Charlo and Jeison Rosario who fight each other next week for the WBC, WBA and IBF super welterweight titles. Showtime will provide the title match on pay-per-view.

Featherweights

Former IBO featherweight titlist Tug Nyambayar (12-1, 9 KOs) floored Cobia Breedy (15-1) twice in the first two rounds but struggled the rest of the way to win by split decision. One judge scored it 115-113 for Breedy and two others for Mongolia’s Nyambayar 114-112 and 114-113.

Nyambayar knocked down Breedy with a counter right cross in the first round and then floored him with four rights and a left hook in the second. After that, Breedy was the busier fighter and no one was able to take control.

“Boxing is boxing. It was a tough fight,” said Nyambayar.

Welterweights

In a solid match Philadelphia’s Jaron Ennis (26-0, 24 KOs) was able to find out exactly where he stands against real competition and stopped the unstoppable Juan Carlos Abreu (23-6-1, 21 KOs) in the sixth round by technical knockout in their welterweight showdown.

More than just a knockout win, Ennis discovered that he can indeed take a punch from an elite level puncher.

Nobody questioned whether Ennis had boxing skills or athleticism and power, but nobody knew if he could take a punch. They discovered it as Abreu was able to connect in the fourth and fifth rounds. The Dominican fighter pulled out his tricks and connected several times with sneaky rights and lefts. Ennis remained standing.

Abreu was looking to trade bombs with Ennis in the fifth and sixth round and paid the price in getting delivered to the canvas with a pretty right counter uppercut. He survived. But in the sixth a slew of punches along the ropes sent him down again. He beat the count again but during a fierce exchange he was floored a final time at 1:06 of the sixth round. It was the first time Abreu had ever been stopped.

“I feel I put on a wonderful show and got the knockout,” said Ennis. “I feel I showed the division I am here.”

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Fast Results from the MGM Bubble: Pedraza Outclasses Molina Plus Undercard

Arne K. Lang

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The featured bout on tonight’s card at the MGM Bubble was a match between 2008 Olympians. It was a competitive match on paper, but Jose Pedraza turned in one of the better performances of his career while turning away Javier Molina who just wasn’t in Pedraza’s league tonight. The fight went the full 10 with the judges voting for the Boricua by scores of 99-91 and 98-92 twice. A former two-division belt-holder who looked very comfortable in his second start at 140, Pedraza boosted his record to 28-3. Molina, who had won five straight coming in, falls to 22-3.

Pedraza was manhandled by Gervonta Davis in 2017, outclassed by Vasyl Lomachenko in 2018, and upset by Jose Zepeda last year, but showed tonight that he still has plenty of mileage left on his odometer. Josh Taylor and Jose Carlos Ramirez each own two pieces of the 140-pound title, but Pedraza seems to have found a new gear at age 31 and is nipping at their heels. However, Pedraza also hankers to renew acquaintances with Zepeda and that will likely come first.

In the 10-round heavyweight co-feature, Efe Ajagba’s higher workrate carried him to a 10-round unanimous decision over Jonathan Rice. The scores were 98-92 and 99-91 twice.

Ajagba, the Houston-based Nigerian making his first start under the Top Rank banner, advanced his record to 14-0 (11) but was underwhelming. Rice, the terror of Tijuana taxi drivers, fell to 13-6-1 and solidified his reputation as a useful gatekeeper.

Robeisy Ramirez, a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Cuba who now resides in the Miami area, improved to 5-1 with a unanimous 8-round decision over Puerto Rico’s Felix Caraballo (13-3-2). Both appeared on the inaugural MGM Bubble card with Caraballo, fighting for the first time in the U.S., suffering a sixth-round stoppage at the hands of Shakur Stevenson. Tonight’s uneventful fight saw Ramirez on cruise control as he won by scores of 79-73 and 80-72 twice.

San Bernardino junior middleweight Leo Ruiz improved to 8-0 with a 6-round unanimous decision over Cancun’s Rodrigo Solis (4-5-1). Both fighters had a point deducted in round five; Ruiz, 21, for low blows and Solis for spitting out his mouthpiece. The scores were 58-54 and 59-53 twice.

In a fight that wasn’t on the original schedule, Houston super middleweight Christian Montano improved to 10-0 (7) with a 6-round unanimous decision over St. Louis’ Ryan Adams (7-4-1). A three-time national amateur champion, Montano, who is of Columbian descent, had knocked out seven of his previous opponents in the opening round. He looked poorly conditioned tonight but yet won every round on two of the scorecards.

Lightweight Bryan Lua, who hails from the town of Madera in central California’s agricultural belt, returned to the ring after a 27-month absence and scored a one-punch knockout over Chile’s Luis Norambuena. A left hook did the damage, bringing the bout to a sudden conclusion at the 2:27 mark of round two. Lua, (6-0, 3 KOs) won two of three over Ryan Garcia as an amateur. It was a quick turnaround for Norambuena (4-7-1) who lost a 4-round decision in this ring last week.

The first two bouts on the card showcased the newest members of Top Rank’s “Kiddie Corps.” Kasir Goldston and Jahi Tucker, 17-year-old welterweights, launched their pro careers on a winning note.

Goldston, a southpaw from Albany, NY, opened the show with a 4-round unanimous decision over Wisconsin’s Isaiah Varnell (3-3). The scores were 40-36 and 39-37 twice.

Tucker, who trains in the same Long Island town that spawned Buddy McGirt, put away Alabama’s Deandre Anderson (1-2) in the opening round. Anderson came out winging, but the precocious Tucker picked him apart. Referee Robert Hoyle stepped in and stopping the mismatch at the 2:56 mark. As an amateur, Tucker was ranked #1 at 138 pounds while still a sophomore in high school.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 105: Angry Welterweights and More

David A. Avila

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Those welterweights don’t play.

One welterweight just got out of jail and wants to take out his angry frustrations in the boxing ring.

“One of us is getting knocked out. If it gets to where I’m behind on points, I’m just going to come forward and try to take him out, even if I end up getting knocked out,” said Juan Carlos Abreu. ““If he stands and fights, it’s better for me. That’s what I want.”

Standing in front of Abreu (23-5-1) will be one of the top welterweights in America, Philadelphia’s Jaron Ennis (25-0, 23 KOs). This is could be Ennis’ first true test against an experienced foe on Saturday Sept. 19, at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. Showtime will televise the Premier Boxing Champions card.

Ennis, 23, has been breezing easily since first jumping in the prize ring in April 2016. So far, the competition has been unable to cope with the athleticism he possesses. Will Abreu be the first to pose a problem?

“Whatever he brings, we are going to be ready. I’m going to go out there, do my thing, be smart, have my fun, and get that stoppage at the end of the night,” said Ennis, whose last opponent Bakhtiyar Eyubov was eliminated in four rounds in January. “You can’t just go in there and go for the knockout. That’s how you get tired and lose your cool or even get hit with punches that you shouldn’t be getting hit with.”

Abreu hopes he loses his cool.

“If he stands and fights, it’s better for me. That’s what I want. I really want one of us to get knocked out,” says Abreu of the Dominican Republic who was purportedly jailed for street fighting.

This welterweight matchup is the precursor to the WBC super welterweight eliminator between Terrell Gausha (21-1-1, 10 KOs) and Erickson Lubin (22-1, 16 KOs).

Gausha and Lubin both have lost once in their pro careers and need a win to get another crack at a world title.

Gausha lost a decision to Erislandy Lara three years ago. Lubin was stopped in one round by Jermell Charlo three years ago. Both realize the nature of the beast.

“I think Gausha has some problems with southpaws, but I’m not focused on that. I’m focused on my game plan and coming out victorious Saturday night,” said Lubin, 24, a southpaw called “the Hammer” for a reason.

Gausha is originally from Cleveland, Ohio but trains in Southern California and has fought four elite southpaws in his career. He believes one more is not a problem.

“This will be my fourth southpaw in a row. So, I’m more comfortable and familiar this time around,” said Gausha, 33, a former US Olympian who trains with Manny Robles Jr. “The guys before me, they all fought each other. Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran. They all fought each other. To be the best, you have to beat the best. And you can see that the fights I take, even after a long layoff, they are tough fights.”

Top Rank

Also, on Saturday Sept. 19, heavyweights and super lightweights lead a Top Rank card featuring some interesting bouts that will be shown on ESPN+.

Newly acquired Efe Ajagba (13-0,11 KOs) meets Jonnie Rice (13-5-1) in a 10-round heavyweight clash. It’s Nigeria’s Ajagba’s second fight this year. Though still a little raw he shows immense potential and great natural strength.

Rice fights out of Bones Adams’ Gym in Las Vegas and has some power. He built up his record on heavyweights in Tijuana boxing rings but has some pop. He’s a sizeable heavyweight and good measuring stick for Ajagba.

The main event is a doozy.

Puerto Rico’s Jose “The Sniper” Pedraza (27-3, 13 KOs) meets Southern California’s Javier Molina (22-2, 9 KOs) in a 10-round super lightweight bout at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas.

This should be good.

Pedraza, 31, is a former WBO lightweight world titlist who lost in his first defense to Vasyl Lomachenko. Nothing bad about that. He defeated Mexico’s Raymundo Beltran for the belt and has shown a penchant for showing up big when you least expect it.

Molina, 30, is a 2008 US Olympian and a member of the fighting Molina family. His brother Oscar was a member of Mexico’s 2012 Olympic team. His other brother Carlos fought for the world title against Amir Khan. Though Javier Molina has never shown great power, he can truly fight.  His last win came against Amir Imam this past February.

Pending Lightweight Clash

Speaking of the lightweight division, is anyone else as excited as me about the looming showdown between the remarkable Vasyl Lomachenko and impressive Teofimo Lopez coming in less than a month?

Lomachenko, 32, the Ukrainian stylist known as “Hi Tech,” has that incredible footwork and ability to control distance. He’s a master of frustrating opponents and imposing his style of darting in and out of danger. But as good as he is, he can’t sell tickets. Only hardcore fans appreciate his peerless boxing skills.

Lopez, 23, hails from Brooklyn and has that ex-factor you can’t teach. He’s pizzazz and panache with a punch. That combination of flair and power excites fans and seemingly makes him a natural gate attraction. But in spite of his electric abilities, he’s facing a master boxer. Is he ready?

Top Rank is known for having a team of matchmakers headed by boxing wizard Bruce Trampler. It makes me wonder why they are pitting these two against each other?

The probable answer: neither sells out an arena alone. May the best man win.

A friend of mine from East L.A., who formerly boxed and comes from a boxing family, shared his knowledge and opinion on the matchup. He has an interesting take.

“His footwork is incredible,” said George Rodriguez about Lomachenko. “Don’t get me wrong, Teofimo is an incredible talent, but Lomachenko has that footwork.”

Any way you look at it, the winner of this clash clearly bumps up his own image.

Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) versus Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) at the MGM Grand Bubble in Las Vegas on October 17. Mark down that date. It will be televised on ESPN.

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