Away from the cameras and the hype and the ridiculous nightclub appearances, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is probably a really good guy. He seems to genuinely care about his family and children. He's the consummate professional -- a natural talent who works exceptionally hard at his craft and has never been suspected of cheating in this era of steroids, doped-up athletes and artificial enhancement.
Unfortunately, he also has some really bad habits that make him an easy target and perennial punching bag for, well, just about everyone.
Currently, Mayweather is out doing some last-minute preparation for his upcoming bout against Victor Ortiz, scheduled for September 17 at the MGM Grand. The fight will be Mayweather’s first in 16 months and, as such, is being watched with a certain amount intrigue. Does Mayweather still have it? Will the speed still be there? The defensive ferocity?
Almost as interesting as all that, however, is hearing Mayweather speak on a myriad of issues at the obligatory press conferences including, but not limited to his arch rival – Manny Pacquiao.
Back in July of this year, Mayweather stood up on a podium and famously expressed his desire to fight his Filipino counterpart. He more or less acknowledged that it was the match that everyone wanted to see and, that he, being a man of the people and all, wanted to give them that bout. Since then, though, there’s been no movement towards that match. In fact, during a recent interview, Arum expressed a particularly pessimistic outlook regarding the fight ever coming together.
On Tuesday, Mayweather tried to set the record clean, actively dismissing the notion that he’s ducking Pacquiao and admitting that from time to time, he can contradict himself.
"I'm not ducking or dodging nobody, never have," Mayweather said. They say this guy who been beating and dominating for 16 years, he's scared of a guy. OK.
"Have I ever contradicted myself? Absolutely, I'm only human. When I get up on the podium and say 'Yeah, Pacquiao, you next' if that's all you want to hear, that's all I've got to give you. That's what you all want to hear anyway."
In a way, Mayweather’s response was refreshingly human. From a guy that seems to put on a front at all times, this statement reeked of honesty and self-awareness. It was the Mayweather that his fans always knew was in there somewhere, but rarely showed his face anymore.
But then, Mayweather delved into why he was troubled by his Filipino counterpart.
"When you see an athlete like Michael Jordan in college, you see he's going to be great," Mayweather said. "When you see LeBron James, you say he's going to be great. You see (Muhammad) Ali, you see Sugar Ray Leonard, you see all these fighters, even myself, you say from the beginning, he's going to be great. A guy doesn't (turn) 24 or 25 and just become great.
"I know what happens in this sport. A guy don't all of the sudden get to a certain age and just become good," Mayweather said. "Certain years, where was this guy at? He all of the sudden just pop up, become good and just punching hard out of the blue? C'mon, man. Make this make sense."
So long as Mayweather continues to allude to Pacquiao juicing, whether he explicitly states the words or not, a fight between these two men will not happen. Plain and simple. This, mind you, is bad news for Mayweather, not Pacquiao. The latter has already been embraced by boxing fans and pundits all over as the “good guy” in all of this, and as such, he doesn’t need to fight Mayweather before he retires. Mayweather, however, is now viewed as a ducker – and no matter how long his undefeated record stands the test of time, it’s missing the only win that matters.
On Tuesday Mayweather showed one and all that they really shouldn’t buy into the hype. Pacquiao v. Mayweather isn’t close to being made. It never was and, unfortunately, it looks like it never will be.