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Mayweather vs. Paul: A Cancer on the Sport of Boxing

During the eighth and final round of the fight between Logan Paul and Floyd Mayweather Jr., the announcer reminded the viewing audience that there are “no winners or losers” in an exhibition match. From a professional boxing standpoint, he’s right. There are no judges for the fight to score the rounds, there’s no win, loss, or draw that’s added to anyone’s fight record, and if the fight ends by going through all its rounds without any kind of stoppage or knockout; it’s over and that’s it. That all being said, this might be one of the only major fights in the history of boxing where everyone connected to the fight, including all of us reading this right now, are losers.

Before I start going into the details about why this fight was a disgrace on all fronts, let’s go through a little bit of background information:

On June 6th 2021, YouTuber and internet personality Logan Paul fought an eight-round boxing exhibition match against retired, Floyd Mayweather Jr., an undefeated boxing champion. Paul had only fought two previous professional matches, both against YouTuber, KSI. The first match ended in a draw, the second in a loss for Paul. Mayweather on the other hand retired undefeated after 50 professional fights. Because of Mayweather’s record and skill in the boxing ring, he was heavily favored to win the fight against Paul despite the YouTuber being 26 years old while Mayweather is 18 years his senior at 44 years old.

Each of the fighters also have their own degree of controversy surrounding them. In 2017, Paul filmed footage for his YouTube channel of a trip into the Aokigahara region of Japan. The area being known as “The Suicide Forest.” Paul found a victim, and included footage of the body (with his reactions to it) in a YouTube video posted in December of that year. Paul was sued in 2020 by a production company for losing a $3.5 million deal after his video was posted. Not long after, he uploaded a video of him tasering two dead rats, further drawing ire from the public and fellow content creators.

Mayweather has been convicted of misdemeanor battery on three different occasions, all of which involved violence against women. These charges occurred in 2002, 2004, and 2011. The first two charges resulted in suspended sentences, (meaning no time needed to be served in jail) while the third, which he pled guilty to for a reduced sentence, resulted in 90 days in jail. None of these incidents had a tangible effect on Mayweather’s boxing career, and he remains one of the richest athletes in the world from the revenue he attracted from his pay-per-view fight contracts.

All that being said, let’s look at the fight itself.

Mayweather had two major physical disadvantages going into this fight, his age and his weight. As mentioned before, there’s an 18-year age difference between the two fighters. Even though an older boxer can be a more experienced opponent, the toll that time takes on someone can naturally slow them, reduce their punching power and endurance, and just render them less effective all around. Still, this is something many fighters can overcome. The weight difference however, is not.

At the weigh in, Mayweather topped in at 155 pounds. That would put him in the middleweight division. Keep in mind that Mayweather normally fights in lower weight classes, ranging from a 130-pound super featherweight, to a 154-pound light middleweight. Paul weighed in at 189.5 pounds, which would put him in as a cruiserweight.

Under normal professional boxing standards, this fight would not and could not be sanctioned. Boxing weight classes can be differentiated by as little as 3 to 7 pounds in order to establish a fair level of competition.

While Paul has not fought often enough to really have a style or technique that defines him, Mayweather very much does. Floyd is known for being one of the best defensive fighters in the game, relying on quick head and body movements to be able to dodge opponents and land precision counterpunches. A little more than half of Mayweather’s fights have been won by some form of knockout or fight stoppage; a much lower percentage than some of the boxers he’s beaten like Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, and Zab Judah.

As mentioned earlier, this was an exhibition match with no judges awarding points. That in itself is a disadvantage for Mayweather as almost half of his fights were won via decision from the judges. That’s not to say he lacks the power to knock someone out, but it would certainly be more of a challenge against someone 18-years younger and 34-pounds heavier than he is.

Any boxing analyst worth their salt would see the problems that this could set up. There have been occasions where one fighter can be dominating a fight, only to be felled by a lucky punch that just happens to land in the right place, with the right amount of power, to knock them out. This becomes an even bigger threat when one of those fighters has a significant weight advantage.

So what would Floyd’s strategy be going into this fight? His only means of winning is via knockout, but he also knows that he has to be cautious because while Paul is far less skilled, his punches could do some damage if they land. Floyd therefore has to make Paul miss enough times to expend his energy and tire out. After that, his punches (if they land) won’t have as much force behind them, allowing Mayweather to get in and land some heavier shots against Paul.

Indeed, that’s what Mayweather did in the fight, but how did it actually play out through each of the eight rounds?

Round 1:

The fight got off to an incredibly slow start. Floyd barely did anything of offensive substance, while Paul mostly failed to land anything of significance. The only bit of excitement that the round mustered was in the closing seconds when Paul stared swinging punches heavily and rapidly at Mayweather. Unfortunately for Paul, Mayweather just put both his arms up, deflecting and blocking basically everything that was being thrown. To someone unfamiliar with boxing, Paul’s offensive burst may have looked exciting, but it was actually the worst thing he could’ve done. All of that energy he spent amounted to absolutely nothing, and the effects of that would be felt immediately after. You could generously score this round for Paul because of his attempting to take control of the round, but you could just as easily score it for Mayweather.

Round 2:

This was a very quiet round for Mayweather as he mostly just let Paul try to attack him. Neither fighter accomplished much, but once again, Paul was throwing more punches than Mayweather, even if they were all virtually ineffective. All it succeeded in doing was tiring him out even further, which played into the hands of his opponent. Still, because of his attempt to control the pace of the fight, you could score this round for Paul. The crowd is not enjoying this at all and you can hear them booing.

Round 3:

Paul looks tired. He’s sweating quite a bit and his form is starting to get sloppier. He looks like he spent way too much energy too fast, which is typical of a fighter who lacks a significant number of actual fights and endurance training. Floyd senses this and starts to try and take the offensive, landing successful shots. However, a pattern emerges here that will dominate the remaining rounds. Whenever Floyd starts to pressure Paul and attack him, Paul grabs Mayweather and wraps his arms around him in what’s known in boxing as a clinch. A clinch is a somewhat controversial technique in boxing because of how it basically is the opposite of what boxing is supposed to be. The boxer being wrapped up can’t effectively throw any punches because their literally right up against their opponent, and their arms are also tied up by the other boxer. While some clinching is allowed to try and give a boxer a chance to recover, it’s up to the referee to determine if the amount of clinching is excessive and whether or not to break up the fighters. And sure enough, the ref does break them up frequently. Even with this, Mayweather would win the round if it were officially scored, and would likely win every one to follow.

Round 4:

This round basically plays out the same as the one prior, but the clinching is becoming more egregious. Additionally, Paul has taken things a step further and while in the clinch, is using his greater height and weight to push Floyd back into the ropes of the ring. This is preventing him from getting any amount of leverage to push away from the clinch himself and fire back. The ref clearly doesn’t like this and at this point, knows there’s nothing he can do to really stop this. Under normal boxing rules, he could order the judges to subtract a point from Paul’s scorecard; too bad there are no judges and therefore no penalty he can actually assess.

Round 5 – 8:

Each round plays out essentially the same way. The only difference is that in round 5, Mayweather comes out more aggressively, hoping to end the fight by knockout given how clearly tired Paul is and how visibly frustrated Mayweather is becoming by Paul’s constant clinching. By the time the eighth round comes along, Paul has regained some energy to try and put on a show, but it still amounts to basically nothing.

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And really, that’s it. If there were any scoring system in place, Mayweather would’ve clearly won the fight even without any point deductions for Paul. Factoring those in would’ve only resulted in an even bigger win for Mayweather. In the post-fight interview, it’s clear he knew he won, but Paul was acting like a victor because he went the distance for eight rounds against the retired former champ, who’s considered to be one of the best fighters in the sport’s history. Even the commentator for the fight kept talking about Paul going the distance, and how it was a huge achievement for him. But as I said earlier in this article, everyone here is a loser.

Loser #1: Floyd Mayweather Jr.

By any conventional means of scoring and assessing a boxing match, Floyd Mayweather Jr. won this fight. Logan Paul barely touched him, Floyd landed more hits, was far more accurate, and showed greater, legitimate ring control throughout the match despite Paul’s constant clinching. Too bad none of that matters. What most people outside of Paul’s fanbase wanted to see was to watch Floyd knock Paul out and if it weren’t for all the clinching, he likely would’ve. Boxing analysts and fans probably anticipated a knockout, but would’ve realized pretty quickly from Paul’s tactics that this wasn’t going to happen if it continued. But those aren’t the majority of people who ordered this fight and wanted it to happen. This wasn’t a fight for boxing purists, it was a curiosity born out of spectacle. And instead of watching a world-renowned championship boxer knockout a YouTuber, the curiosity-seekers watched him fail to do so. All it could serve to do is weaken his, and boxing’s reputation. Not that Floyd would care though given he only took the fight for the money anyway.

Loser #2: Logan Paul

While he celebrates the fact that he “went the distance” for eight rounds against Floyd Mayweather Jr., one of the greatest boxers in history; Logan Paul has no reason to cheer this joke of a fight. He fought like an amateur, and a cheating one at that. Knowing that he was at risk of getting knocked out because of a massive lack of skill and stamina, he resorted to clinching for a majority of the fight. Any rounds that he won for showing a greater amount of activity were basically intentionally given to him by Mayweather solely for the strategic purpose of tiring him out. Paul proved nothing by this fight. He didn’t prove any amount of skill, any amount of heart, any amount of passion, or any amount of courage. He talked himself up about how much he trained for this fight and how he should be taken seriously; he’s an absolute joke. He couldn’t even cheat his way to a victory and only the most blindly devoted of his fans would look at this and think of it as an achievement. It was a disgrace to the sport, to sportsmanship, and to his fans who expected him to put up a fight.

Loser #3: The Viewing Audience                     

Well, here’s hoping the undercard was good, because the main event was a pitiful excuse for a boxing match. If this was the first fight you ever saw, no one would excuse you for never wanting to watch another boxing match ever again. Not only was this laughably boring, it didn’t even have a “winner” due to the lack of a knockout or judges. I personally didn’t pay for the fight. Without disclosing how I watched it for the purposes of this article, I’m glad I didn’t pay a thing for it. Not that I would anyway for reasons I’ll discuss a bit later on.

Loser #4: The Sport of Boxing

Mixed Martial Arts and specifically the UFC has successfully managed to outpace boxing in terms of ratings growth in the United States. While boxing still remains popular, it’s not a part of the public discourse like MMA has become. Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor, and Jon Jones are bigger household names than Jermall Charlo and Oscar Valdez, and Ronda Rousey isn’t even in the sport anymore. Maybe Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder would be recognizable names thanks to their memorable fight in December of 2018, but that’s about it.

HBO was one of the biggest showcases for the sport on television, and they removed boxing from their line-up back in 2018, ending one of the longest lasting network relationships in sports history. While fights are still broadcast on other channels, even ESPN ended their long running Friday Night Fights program in 2015. Showtime is one of the few television networks, if not the only one, that still has regularly scheduled boxing programming. Funnily enough, it was Showtime Pay-Per-View that broadcast this fight. They should be ashamed that they carried this train wreck of a spectacle on their network. But of course, they probably pulled in an intense amount of money for it and apparently, they had enough viewers that their servers for hosting the fights crashed.

What the viewers got to watch was an insult to the sport. Granted the UFC has some stinkers of a fight card sometimes, but the owner of the company, Dana White, is well-known for not taking these events laying down. He offers bonus payout incentives to the fighters for the most exciting fight of the night, and people who put on a good show can quickly find themselves moving up the ranking in order to produce fights that viewers are actually clamoring for.

Boxing will not survive if it continues to put on events such as this. We’ll have to see the fallout that occurs in the days and weeks to follow, but it’s not going to reflect well on the already troubled sport. Long gone are the halcyon days of the mid ‘90s to the early 2010s when boxing was flourishing in popularity. Should history look back on a day to point out when boxing as a viable form of a broadcast spectator sport died, this would be that day.

Loser #5: Society

Not including this fight, Mayweather’s pay-per-view bouts have brought in over $1.5 billion. There’s a reason why his nickname is “money;” because he’s rich, very rich. And despite the fact that he has been charged on three occasions for violently assaulting women, he’s not held accountable for his actions. For whatever reason he’s been given a free pass it seems. Disney temporarily fired James Gunn because of crude jokes he made years ago that he apologized for, but there are no professional repercussions for Mayweather beating on women on at least 3 separate occasions; THREE SEPARATE OCCASIONS!

This is why I mentioned earlier that I refused to pay for this fight. I mean, not that it matters anyway at this point in time. The guy’s so rich that he doesn’t need to work another day in his life and he’ll be fine. He’s already made his money and been charged with his crimes and laughable suspended sentences; there’s nothing that holding him accountable will do now. Perhaps he’s changed and isn’t violent anymore? Fine, I hope that’s the case, but when you’re a professional trained fighter and you hit someone outside of the ring, that should be the end of your contract for some time. Mayweather should’ve been barred form the boxing ring after those multiple battery cases, but still we threw money at his feet.

It’s not like Logan Paul is a stellar person either from his past deeds that he’s shown questionable amounts of sincere regret for. At least he isn’t guilty of domestic abuse as far as we know; not that that’s a level of comparison any person would necessarily want to be proud of. If Paul is consistent in some way, it’s in his willingness to exploit things for the sake of views and popularity. And again, like Mayweather, we still threw money at his feet despite everything he’s done.

Conclusion:

I remember the years I spent as a young teenager watching boxing with my father. He and I didn’t have very much in common that we could share an appreciation for, but boxing was one of them. I can remember watching the legendary Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward fights live and marveling at them long before they were revisited in the movie “The Fighter.” I remember watching in stunned disbelief with him when Oscar De La Hoya was robbed by the judges in 1999 when they gave a victory to Felix Trinidad.

When Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2011, watching the fights with him became a lot harder. I wasn’t living at home with him anymore and it became really difficult to be around him and watching him suffer. Still, there was a chunk of about two years where we talked a lot about sports. By that time, we had both moved away from boxing and watching UFC events instead. We both saw where the future of combat sports was headed and any discussion of boxing that we had was always about fights of long ago.

For me, boxing started dying a decade ago when dad took ill and just like him, it never recovered. All that’s left now are the memories of days gone by. Sometimes I look up those old fights on YouTube and note the care and quality of professionalism that HBO and ESPN put into their broadcasts. While not all the fights were interesting, you could still see that the fighters had heart and were really putting themselves out there; laying their bodies on the line for a shot at victory.

There was nothing like that in this fight. All it amounted to was watching two obscenely rich people getting obscenely richer at our expense. If my dad were alive to see this, he would’ve been as disgusted as I am. I don’t think I’m putting words in his mouth when I say that he would’ve called this fight a cancer on the sport itself, and he would’ve been right.

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