It’s hard to say if more fans watch Floyd Mayweather Jr. because they enjoy watching one of the greatest defensive fighters of all time, or because of a primal bloodlust to see one of the most abrasive personalities in the sports history lose. Wait, no it isn’t. People tune into Mayweather fights for the off chance he gets beaten or, better yet, knocked out. Floyd realizes this, it’s what has made him a millionaire. But this past Saturday, fans came closest to seeing “Money” lose as they have in over a decade and it just may have had the opposite effect of gaining him respect.
It’s no hidden secret the majority of boxing fans have always respected the warriors willing to go out and lay it all on the line to earn a victory. The sports working class fan base doesn’t make it very hard to understand why these types of boxers are championed. When you’re a blue collar guy it’s hard to support anyone who doesn’t give it their all. It’s even harder to support someone who has far more money than you could ever imagine and he rubs your face in it. What’s often forgotten and swept under the rug when it comes to those who have a hatred for Mayweather is the amount of hard work that goes into being as good as he is. One would be hard pressed to come across a fighter who puts in more work in the gym. But too often in the criticism of fighters, fans and journalists lose the perspective on just how much work goes into being one of the best.
No one knows more about the hard work and dedication necessary than those that make up Floyd Mayweather’s entourage. No one needs to preach to them or remind them how hard he works. But the general public got a bit of understanding about it on Saturday night, because Mayweather needed every bit he put into training to come to the forefront so he could survive against Miguel Cotto. In typical Mayweather fashion he’s tried to play it off as he was simply making the fight interesting for fans. Deep down you have to figure even Mayweather feels ridiculous making that statement. It was plain to see for the world that Mayweather wasn’t executing some grand scheme to have an interesting fight, he was fighting for his life and his undefeated record.
That natural urge for survival and the resulting performance could be what turn the tide in terms of public opinion for Mayweather. To see him face adversity in that manner and come out the other end victorious is exactly what fans needed to see. It made Floyd look human, like anyone else who sometimes has to struggle through hard times. It was a rare endearing time for a man whose often done everything he can to make himself appear just the opposite.
It also served as a reminder as to what exactly makes Mayweather a great boxer. His defensive ability has for a long time been the hallmark of his career, as it certainly always will be. But he showed a great chin on Saturday, taking some heavy shots for a big puncher. Cotto might not have one punch KO power but he certainly ain’t in the business of handing out love taps either. Mayweather also reminded everyone of his uncanny ability to change gameplans mid fight. Too often a fighter will have a corner able to change a gameplan faced with a fighter unable to execute it. No such problem with Floyd. In his toughest fight in a long while, he may have made the best case for being one of the best of all time.