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Point/Counterpoint: Is Floyd Mayweather good for the sport of boxing?

BY DI STAFF | MAY 06, 2013 5:00 AM

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No

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is an undefeated, 44-0 world champion boxer who holds titles in five weight classes. Usually, any fighter who can claim that title is a sports marketer’s dream and does wonders for the sport of boxing. However, such is not the case with Pretty Boy Floyd.

That is due largely in part to the fact that his most famous knockout of his career came against his former girl friend, Josie Harris, in 2010, for which he served an 87-day jail sentence for domestic abuse.

Generally, any time one of the best fighters in the sport is out of action for more than a year because he is serving out a jail sentence for beating a woman to the point where she develops a Stage-1 concussion is not exactly the positive publicity that the boxing world needs.

Boxing is considered by many to be a dying sport. Violent by nature, it has failed to regain the massive popularity it enjoyed throughout the 1960s and ’70s, and having arguably the best fighter in the world serving jail time for beating a defenseless woman does nothing to dispel the stereotype that all boxers are overly aggressive, violent thugs who make a living out of exploiting their violent tendencies.

However, the knocks against Mayweather go beyond his legal troubles. According to an interview with his former girlfriend, he apparently had a major gambling problem, often making $250,000 bets on the half-time scores of NFL games with famous rapper and close friend 50 Cent. In the same interview, Mayweather’s girlfriend also criticized him for associating with some less than reputable characters, who she claims ended up breaking into their house and robbing them one night.

While many argue that the private lives of professional athletes should be kept separate from their athletic accomplishments, when it becomes a distraction and a black mark for the sport they represent, all criticism they receive becomes justified. Just ask MLB fans how they feel about Pete Rose or NHL fans how they feel about Mike Danton. Having arrogant, hot-headed superstars such as Mayweather serve as the poster boy for all professional boxers does the sport no good. 

—by Ryan Rodriguez

Yes

At the ripe age of 36, Floyd Mayweather proved to whatever boxing fans there are left in the world that he is, in fact, the best there is in a sport that is desperately in search for new fans and supporters in the wake of the popularity of mixed martial arts.

On the evening of May 4, Mayweather earned his 21st boxing championship belt — this one in the welterweight division against Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero. The win was his 44th in a row, giving Mayweather a spotless record in all his bouts.

There’s talk that Mayweather is a poor role model, with his recently spending time in jail, and he is notorious for placing hundreds of thousands of dollars on sports bets. But in this day and age, it’s hard to find an athlete that fits the cookie-cutter mold of people to look up to who isn’t named Tim Tebow.

Saying Mayweather isn’t good for boxing is like saying Tiger Woods is bad for golf or Peyton Manning bad for football. Mayweather promotes his sport in the absolute best way possible: by winning. The May 4 fight raked in at least $32 million for Mayweather, matching the most money ever earned in a bout, a mark set by Mayweather in his last fight, a bout against Miguel Cotto a year ago. In fact, he was the highest-paid athlete in the world last year, earning more than $85 million in winnings, sponsorship contracts, and shares from pay-per-view profits.

People say that boxing is tough for casual fans to get into, because they have to order a pricy package through their cable providers to watch a fight that could, in theory, end in one punch. That might be believable if networks weren’t salivating over the rights to carry a fight — Showtime/CBS recently acquired the rights to air all Mayweather fights after he had been with HBO — and the May 4 bout fetched the most expensive price for homeowners looking to order the matchup to date, a cool $69.99. The pay-per-view numbers aren’t in yet, but it’s likely the Mayweather-Guerrero fight generated the most money from a boxing match of all time.

The sports world is run by money; Mayweather is just changing the equation. Instead of boxing generating money because of its overall popularity, as with football or nearly every other sport, Mayweather generates money for boxing by just being Mayweather.

— by Ben Ross


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