When Skill Takes A Backseat In Boxing
By: Sean Crose
Lauren Rivera’s book “Pedigree” deals with the possibility that working class individuals might not be able to succeed as well as upper class individuals because the working class is more apt to focus on hard work while the upper class is more in tune with impressing the people that need to be impressed. In short, performance and ability may well mean squat in many, if not most, cases. But you probably knew that already.
Truth be told, professional sports seemed like the one bastion in this lonely world where working hard really could make all the difference. Have talent? And a willingness to apply it? Off you go. The world is yours. Sadly, however, this might not be the case in modern boxing – if it were ever the case at all.
Take Floyd Mayweather’s typically enigmatic interview during Saturday’s Showtime card. Floyd teased the world with the possibility of making a comeback. He wanted us to know that he’s spoken with Showtime, after all. And CBS. And that the numbers discussed may well have involved nine figures. But hey, he’s retired. Let him rest.
However, if he WERE to come back, Floyd made it clear he wouldn’t be interested in Shawn Porter or Keith Thurman, both of whom, like Floyd himself, are Al Haymonites. Nope, Floyd’s interest seemed to be focused on another Haymonite – one Danny Garcia, a talented and nice enough guy who hasn’t shown the menace of either Thurman or Porter in recent years.
The point here is pretty clear. There’s no way most analysts could see Garcia beating Floyd. Indeed, there probably isn’t much of a way most analysts could see Thurman or Porter beating Floyd, either. Still, each man would stand a better chance than Garcia, at least in the minds of the vast majority of serious boxing watchers. The truth may well be that in boxing, like in life, talent and hard work takes a back seat. Being good at one’s sport just isn’t as important as being custom made for a certain star, just like being good at one’s job just isn’t as important as reading the same posh publications as some employers.
Of course the truth here is that Floyd and company may be right in their decision making, at least in a business sense. Hard core fans may not think much of Garcia as a potential opponent, but casual fans might be a lot more interested. Whenever I find a rare millennial boxing fan among my students, that individual informs me that he or she likes “Swift.” Why? Because “he’s good.” That’s it. No further explanation.
Out of all the boxers out there, it’s Garcia that sparks these young fan’s interest. Why, I have no idea. I’m no Garcia basher, but out of all the name welterweights in the business, I put him on the bottom of the list. The man has heart and talent, but he hasn’t proven himself in ages.
Ultimately, however, the Philly native may be more popular than we die hard followers and fans had assumed. Again, I don’t know why exactly. Perhaps that’s because my years as a boxing nut have made me almost impervious to the BS many promoters throw peoples’ way. And if you’re reading this article I’m guessing you’re pretty much of the same ilk.
We’re not the people Floyd and company are reaching out to, however. My students – none of whom are diehards – are. Boxing’s powers that be KNOW we’ll cough up for pay per views. It’s those who don’t often pay for live boxing these people are interested in. A Floyd comeback, after all, can bring in the kind of numbers that make the UFC look like a dog and pony show. And those are the kind of numbers Floyd is interested in. That, and perhaps a custom made opponent.
Those who rely on determination and elbow grease may simply need to take the hint.