Boxing

Floyd, as in avoid

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Mark Kriegel

Mark Kriegel is the national columnist for FOXSports.com. He is the author of two New York Times best sellers, Namath: A Biography and Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich, which Sports Illustrated called "the best sports biography of the year."

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.

Todd DuBoef, president of Top Rank Boxing, spent the Super Bowl in Jerry Jones’ box with an ex-president, a disgruntled third baseman, and an old friend, Floyd Mayweather Jr.

It was a great night, said Duboef, as the two go back to at least ’96 when Mayweather first signed with DuBoef’s stepfather, Bob Arum. Not only was the game a lot of fun, they were joined by none other than Jamie Foxx. There was a lot to discuss, and post and tweet about. But the one subject that never came up – and the only one most fans care about  – was Manny Pacquiao.

HIT HARD, SPEAK SOFTLY Pacquiao opens up in his one-on-one with Interview Magazine.

Of course. Now maybe this is part of a grand strategy on the part of Arum, Jones and DuBoef, to finally seduce Mayweather into a fight with Pacquiao. But the fact is, the most gifted fighter on the planet has fought just twice since 2007. He will be 34 this month, and the record suggests he’s spent more time in combat with the mother of his kids than he has in the ring.

Put aside the fact that Mayweather is charged with felony coercion and misdemeanor battery in connection with a domestic incident last September. Ignore, if only for the sake of this argument, the issue of his guilt or innocence. As an alleged sportsman, there's an epic disgrace in Mayweather's idleness. I can’t recall an athlete in any sport who has done less with more in his prime.

This kid was possessed of greatness. Problem is, he’s not a kid anymore. He has no injury. He has no excuse. The fight game is only as big as its biggest fight. So don’t decry the state of boxing. Decry the state of Floyd Mayweather. That’s the problem.

BOXING BABES

These babes can't get enough ringside action.

Don’t be fooled by the championship belts he’s accumulated over the years. They’re impressive. As were many of his wins. Still, the body of work is considerably less than it should be. Ask yourself, what, if anything, do you remember of Floyd Mayweather’s career?

Wrestlemania? Dancing with the Stars?

For me, it was Mayweather not getting knocked out by Shane Mosley’s right hand last May. In retrospect, I probably made too much of it. Certainly, I never thought Mosley would come back to make a score with Pacquiao before Mayweather. But that’s what’s happened, as Thursday afternoon saw the press tour for Pacquiao-Mosley kick off at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

“If (Mayweather) wanted to fight him, he’d be fighting him,” said Mosley.

Translation: He doesn’t want to have anything to do with Pacquiao.

On the bright side, unlike Mayweather, both Pacquiao and Mosley and are guaranteed to actually fight. So it won’t be a bad one, at least as long as it lasts. What’s more, DuBoef cut an interesting deal, one that might finally force HBO to realize that it hasn’t been particularly interesting or creative since the “The Sopranos” went off the air. Now, an agreement with Showtime guarantees Pacquiao-Mosley the fight major coverage on the cable channel’s parent network, CBS. There will be documentary-style coverage of the fighters in their camps after the NCAA basketball tournament’s semifinal, an hour on the Saturday a week before the fight, another lead-in piece the day of the fight and a re-airing of a “60 Minutes” piece on Pacquiao.

Not coincidentally, the last time boxing really mattered was when it was still a network sport – in the '80s. “That’s what we’re trying to do,” said Arum, “bring back the '80s.”

Good idea. Still, it’s a bit much to think that Mosley will change the sport’s fortunes. Mosley is going to be 39 this year. The host hotel, the MGM Grand, has him a 7-1 underdog.

But back to Mayweather, who after taking a couple years off, says he’s taking another couple of years off. Does that mean he’s retired? Who else has turned his prime into this kind of irrelevance?

Jim Brown, for example, retired after only nine NFL seasons. But he was near universally regarded as the best football player in the world. What’s more, he became bigger as a pop culture icon than a ballplayer.

Barry Sanders quit at 30. Still, at the time he was the NFL’s second all-time leading rusher.

Bjorn Borg had 11 Grand Slam titles when he retired at 26.

Rocky Marciano was only 32 when he last fought. But he was also 49-0, and retired as the only undefeated heavyweight champ.

Even Mike Tyson, bent on self-destruction, fought 16 times after he got out of prison. Mayweather has fought 16 times in the last decade.

I’m sure he did have a great time in the owner's box at the Super Bowl. After all, if there’s one thing Floyd Mayweather knows how to do, it’s be a spectator.

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