This is it. The grand finale. The last hurrah. The end of one of boxing's most brilliant and controversial careers. On Saturday night in Las Vegas, Floyd Mayweather Jr. will step into the ring for the final time, and give us one last chance to root for someone else.
If he wins, Mayweather will match the all-time record of the spotless and peerless Rocky Marciano, who retired in 1955 with a 49-0 mark. Some believe that Mayweather, with a long history of domestic violence, arrogance, weak opponents, drug scandals, and a boring, defensive fighting style that doesn't merit the bloated Pay Per View prices of these fights, is not worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as the all-time greats. You can add that to the pile of reasons to root against Mayweather this weekend.
Perhaps the greatest sign of the boxing community turning its back on Mayweather once and for all is that there were still more than 2,000 seats available this week at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas for his final fight. Picking Andre Berto, a cream puff outside the top-10 welterweight contenders for your final fight turns people off, too.
Yes, he's given us an encyclopedia of reasons to not like him as a fighter, or, really, as a man. But when he retires, we may not see another fighter like him. Maybe ever. The cupboard is bare. Despite all the legitimate reasons you have to root against him, there is no next Great One on the horizon.
There are some talented guys coming up, brawlers like Canelo Alvarez or Terrance Crawford or heavyweight Anthony Joshua. But Mayweather was a once-in-a-generation fighter. Despite what you may think of his behavior in or out of the ring, 48-0 is impressive, 49-0 becomes legendary. Nobody's been able to match that kind of efficiency since Marciano. Not Ali. Not Frazier. Not Tyson.
Mayweather says he's going to retire after this one, but that doesn't mean much. He said he was going to retire before. Twice, actually. He talked about the end of his career in 2006 and again in 2008. But like Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th movies, Mayweather just kept coming back. There was no getting rid of him.
Maybe this time is for real. Maybe the 38-year-old Mayweather has truly had enough. Maybe he'll take down the inferior Berto, as everyone expects he will, and he'll walk away from the sport 49-0, too. He could do all that, but even his father, Floyd Sr., isn't feeling all the retirement talk, and Mayweather could come back for a shot at 50-0.
Sure, Berto could beat Mayweather. Anything can happen. Remember Mike Tyson's last fight? He probably doesn't, because he got clubbed down by the no-name Kevin McBride. Can Berto beat Mayweather into submission the way McBride bludgeoned Iron Mike 11 years ago?
Probably not. But anything can happen.
Mayweather has been very good at not losing during the course of his career. He's also been very good at getting people to dislike him. Hey, the world needs villains. Heels have always occupied a critical role the age-old battle between good and evil. Darth Vader, Hans Gruber, even the Rock was a bad guy at one point.
So, until he announces that he's not really retiring, Saturday night is your last chance to root for someone beat Mayweather, for once and for all. In 48 tries leading up to this fight, nobody's done it.
There's a good chance that won't happen this weekend. But when it comes to Floyd Mayweather, what other good reason do you have?
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