By Jason Keidel
Boxing has long drowned us in the wrong form of parody. But it wasn’t always so.
For those under 30, it’s nearly impossible for you to believe that boxing was an essential sport, the paradox of artistic barbarism. But it was. It was a place of the pauper, the outcast, the convict and the converted, where a kid could go from chump to champ with one punch. Clumsy theatrics aside, “Rocky” was an authentic premise, the story of a thousand fighters burned into history books.
And it was, believe it or not, the template for sportsmanship, where two men tapped gloves, assaulted each other, then hugged with taped hands, swollen torsos, and mangled faces. Smiles were distorted by bleeding slabs of scar tissue on the brow as the fighter explained his tactics to Don Dunphy.
It was great for all the reasons Floyd Mayweather isn’t.
“As soon as we come back from vacation, we’re going to cook that little yellow chump,” Mayweather said during the infamous YouTube rant that would make John Rocker blush.
Manny Pacquiao, a native of the Philippines, was the target of the invective. “We gonna cook that mother f—– with some cats and dogs,” Mayweather continued. “Rice with a little bit of cat, rice with a little bit of barbecued dog.”
There’s more, but you get it. Every critical adjective has been attached when there’s no need. Just watch it.
Talking smack was the ancient mandate because you knew the fighters didn’t really mean it. It was a pretext for ticket sales. Muhammad Ali was the lyrical motif of boxing for nearly two decades, taking bad poetry and making good on canvas. Eventually, fight purses became guaranteed but some good, concocted hatred sparked pay-per-view sales.
Boxing, its talent now drained by other sports that pay the same money with half the danger, now presents Mayweather as its sad spokesman. “Once I stomp the midget, I’ll make that mother f—– make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice.”
He really said it.
The phone book is stuffed with advocacy groups primed to attack such conduct. They are disturbingly – but not surprisingly – silent, moonwalking from a case that has no cachet for them. I don’t have to tell you why, but I will.
Filipinos don’t count, obscure people from an obscure land. They are victims of the duplicitous thorns of political correctness. You can imagine the screeching rebukes had Pacquiao said similar things about Mayweather. Indeed, Pacquiao would likely be barred from fighting in the United States.
Then there was the expected but ineffective pseudo-apology, the abstract, “I didn’t mean it in a bad way,” refrain. Did you mean it in a good way, Floyd?
“It’s an uneducated message,” said Pacquiao, taking the high road unknown to Mayweather’s Escalade.
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. – yes, he’s a junior and a coward – attacked Pacquiao with the long arm of technology. Mayweather fights from his kitchen, a safe continent away from Manny’s wheelhouse.
Mayweather has said, on record, that he’s better than Ali and Ray Robinson. If you know anything about boxing you know the treasonous tone of that assertion. Not only is Mayweather a fraction of those fighters, he’s not nearly the man.
Ali, a civil rights icon, fought Sonny Liston when no one would. Robinson fought Jake LaMotta six (six!) times when no one would. Mayweather is a pop culture creature, known more for his vacations than his vocation, uneducated and unaware of the historical heft of his predecessors. Known for voracious gambling, perhaps he’s busy dropping ten grand at the sports book.
Or perhaps he’s busy slapping women and stealing their stuff.
According to The Associated Press, Mayweather was arrested Friday on charges of beating his ex-girlfriend in front of their three children. The woman he allegedly battered was treated at a Las Vegas hospital and has filed an order of protection from “Money” Mayweather. In the complaint, she also claims he threatened to kill her and that he stole her iPhone. Mayweather wasn’t his loquacious self during his perp walk from the Clark County jail after he posted $3,000 bail.
It’s hard to say which is more disturbing – his stream-of-consciousness rap or his burgeoning rap sheet. Mayweather has been arrested many times since 2002 (according to the A.P. report), all involving violence unsanctioned by boxing.
Mayweather is a small man who makes loud noises. At 33, his dwindling followers reflect his diminishing talent. He was a gifted boxer who toed the verbal line long enough to convince us to punch the “buy” button on the remote. Floyd fights only with his mouth these days, his star fading into a sport that is long past dusk.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com