Boxing

Time for Money Mayweather to shut up and fight

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Give Floyd Mayweather Jr. credit for one thing. Like any great fighter, he knows when to turn and run.

A day after unleashing a racist rant against Manny Pacquiao that was insulting even by boxing standards, Mayweather was at it again. Surprisingly, this time it was to apologize.

''Forgive me for saying what I said,'' Mayweather said in yet another video. ''I was just having fun. I didn't really mean it, nothing in a bad way.''

Oh, what fun it was, for as long it lasted. Fighting words, from a man who refuses to fight.

But, hey, what did you really expect from Money May?

Not an apology, surely. With all the sycophants and yes men who surround Mayweather it's a wonder he was able to figure out that this time he had crossed the line from fun to just plain disgusting.

But cross it he had, in a 10-minute video that was racist, homophobic, and an insult to Filipinos everywhere.

If Mayweather's idea was to get people to back off criticism for him not fighting Pacquiao this fall, it didn't work. He still seems to be afraid of either the fight or the thought that he could actually lose.

But if his idea was to get Pacquiao's attention, he succeeded.

Pacquiao sat in his hotel room in Texas and watched Mayweather unleash every derogatory Asian stereotype he could come up with. Then he pressed the play button to watch it once more, his expression never changing.

The fighter in him probably wanted a shot at Mayweather right then and there. The politician in him thought better of it.

''It's an uneducated message,'' the congressman from the province of Sarangani said.

Pacquiao showed remarkable restraint, because it was far more than that. By proxy, Mayweather insulted an entire nation by going after the biggest sports hero the Philippines has ever known.

Of course, it could happen only in boxing, which has a long and colorful history of fighters unloading verbal abuse.

Joe Frazier still hasn't gotten over Muhammad Ali calling him an Uncle Tom nearly 40 years ago, and saying he was so ugly he should donate his face to the U.S. Department of Wildlife. Ali loved to taunt his opponents but sometimes crossed the line, like when he called Leon Spinks ''Blackula'' because he had no front teeth.

But Mayweather is no Ali. He's not clever, and there's nothing remotely funny about what he says.

Almost lost in Mayweather's video musings on everything from Pacquiao's height to his dining tastes was his proclamation that he is on a one-year vacation from boxing. When it's over, Mayweather says, he will gladly return to the ring and engage in fisticuffs with the distinguished congressman from the Philippines.

Actually, what he said was that he was going to ''stomp the midget,'' then have Pacman ''make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice.'' And that was the more vanilla part of the video.

But, hey, it's just Money May.

He was supposed to help save boxing, but all Mayweather has really done recently is help himself to your wallet. Given not one, but two, chances to give the sport the bout it desperately needs, he instead hides behind a webcam as Pacquiao traipses across the country promoting a fight with the disgraced Antonio Margarito that only Jerry Jones seems to want to see.

But while it was outrageous, it wasn't the most outlandish thing Mayweather has said recently. Not even close.

That came before his most recent fight with Shane Mosley when Mayweather proclaimed that he was the greatest fighter ever. Yes, he said, he was better than Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson or even Joe Louis.

Now that's a real laugher.

Sure, he's undefeated in 41 professional fights, a mark he's rightfully proud of. But Mayweather has carefully picked his opponents and fought so infrequently in recent years that his claim to greatness rings hollow.

Remember, too, that Mayweather never sold a ticket on his own until Oscar De La Hoya made him a star and HBO's ''24/7'' reality series about the wacky Mayweather clan became must-see TV.

Mayweather told me before the Mosley fight that it was all a charade, a bad-boy character built to make money - and lots of it. But if the gangsta act is an acting job, Mayweather should win an Oscar for the way he embraces the role.

For most boxing fans the real issue isn't Mayweather's ridiculous rant. Fights have been built around racial and national divides since Jack Johnson stopped Jim Jeffries a century ago and, as distasteful as they can be, will always be part of the sport.

But the Pacquiao-Mayweather matchup is so good it doesn't need any phony buildup. And what frustrates everyone in boxing these days is the strange unwillingness of Mayweather to give the sport the fight it desperately needs and deserves.

It's time Mayweather just shuts up and fights.

---

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org

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