No way to sugarcoat this: Mayweather fears Pacquiao
July 30, 2010
By Mike Freeman
CBSSports.com National Columnist
He is possibly the best pure athlete today. Yet, despite his great physical prowess, he looks scared. He looks like a frightened man.
Floyd Mayweather usually appears gorged with bravado and his perpetually functioning ego can power a thousand cities, but these days his courage could seemingly fit neatly into a pair of a girl's dancing slippers as he continues to dodge Manny Pacquiao.
There's no other way to say this. Mayweather has a chance, directly in front of him, to make grand history. He can shut up doubters, display true mastery and etch his place into boxing lore by staging one of the great sporting events of all time. Instead of running to this opportunity, he's scurrying away from it.
Over the last several days I've had conversations with various people within boxing and no one understands why Mayweather is avoiding Pacquiao. His tactics outside the ring are as dumbfounding as they are in it.
What many in boxing believe is that Mayweather is nervous about Pacquiao and Mayweather is also enjoying his fame a little too much.
Mayweather is becoming Strayweather, a fighter more concerned about the arid glitter of celebrity than fighting the best possible opponent.
He's a ship at sea and doesn't seem to care that there are numerous ports in sight.
The closest thing to a pseudo-defense of Mayweather I'm hearing is that ducking Pacquiao is part of an elaborate plan by Mayweather to increase interest -- and subsequently the money -- surrounding the fight. That, of course, would not be atypical Mayweather behavior. No one plays the media and boxing public for bigger dupes than him.
Yet the overall opinion in boxing seems to be Mayweather's concern is Pacquiao's smart brutality is an even match for his skilled quickness.
Who are we to say that a man who fights for a living is, well, afraid to fight? But Mayweather is leaving even his most strident supporters speechless with his recent game of running.
The irony is I think Mayweather would win and it wouldn't be as close as some believe. Mayweather's hand speed is still daunting and though Pacquiao is a solid boxer, he's mostly a slugger. Pacquiao is red-fanged but Mayweather would out-technique him. Apparently, I have more faith in Mayweather than Mayweather does.
Mayweather's refusal to fight Pacquiao runs contrary to everything we know about professional athletes.
Imagine the New Orleans Saints getting to the Super Bowl but refusing to play Indianapolis because they feared the Colts? Or Kobe Bryant not wanting to beat LeBron James? Or Mary Ann thinking she wasn't prettier than Ginger?
What Mayweather is doing remains one of the most unusual stories in sports today. It trumps Pitino, T.O. and almost all other summer silliness because we're seeing an elite athlete refuse to be great.
Most in boxing thought we'd have a fight set by now, particularly after Pacquiao reportedly agreed to more stringent performance enhancing drug testing. There have been charges and counter charges about who is ducking who, but it's clear now that Mayweather is the one doing the running.
Pacquiao has moved on and will fight someone else in the fall while Strayweather runs in the opposite direction.
Many of history's great fighters didn't duck other greats or if they did, they didn't for long. Sugar Ray Robinson had 200 fights, sometimes with numerous fights in one year. Mayweather is proving more the exception to this rule.
Mayweather is also proving to be something I never thought I'd see.