The Mount Rushmore of upsets.
Regardless of your generation or sport of choice, the top candidates for chiseled-granite immortality can probably be plucked from a similar crop of wannabes.
The New York Jets in Super Bowl III.
North Carolina State in the NCAA Final Four.
The U.S. men’s hockey team in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
And Buster Douglas in Tokyo against Mike Tyson.
Their images – Joe Namath’s finger wag, Jim Valvano’s hug pursuit, Jim Craig’s flag-draped search for his father and Iron Mike’s loopy reach for his mouthpiece – have for good reason lingered for decades past their final buzzers and bells.
But they all might be pushed aside come Sunday.
Should Logan Paul fulfill his bratty social media prophecy and actually land a knockout blow to the chin of unbeaten Hall of Fame-bound Floyd Mayweather, the next-day resonance from Miami could reshape perceptions of upsets – and boxing itself – for several years to come.
Forget the odds, which have been predictable since the idea of the bout was initially floated, and just imagine the reaction you’d have if the superstar known as Money was laid out for a 10-count.
Exhibition or not.
Mayweather, for all his faults, is a five-division world champion who won each and every one of his 50 bouts after turning pro as a precocious 19-year-old in 1996.
Not only did his pre-retirement run surpass the signature numerical dominance established by ex-heavyweight champ Rocky Marciano from 1947 to 1955, but only one judge in his 23 distance fights ever turned in a scorecard favoring his opponent.
That was Tom Kaczmarek, whose slight 115-113 lean toward Oscar De La Hoya in 2007 made that fight the only split decision on Mayweather’s otherwise unchallenged resume.
Paul, meanwhile, lost a bout to a fellow influencer, rendering the very idea he can compete with a functioning Mayweather—let alone actually beat him, even at age 44 – almost comical.
If it happens, though, the laughter from the YouTube crowd will be deafening.
And the scars incurred by the TBE crowd might be permanent.
“I've got nothing to lose,” Paul said.
“I'm going in there with that energy and he's got everything to lose. There's a lot on the table for him, not a lot on the table for me, and that's a dangerous man.
"It's a fight, so anything can happen.”
Though some would dismiss a contrary result as a fluke, or rationalize it with claims that a too-old Mayweather didn’t take the exhibition seriously, it’d be hard to come up with a substantive argument that’d override the casual fan’s image of the era’s best boxer losing to a guy who’d never won a fight.
To that end, too, no promotional hyperbole or manufactured menace would prevent Paul and Co. from claiming – with powerful evidence – that their social media empire charts the new course of combat sports going forward and boxing is little more than a vehicle through which they gain followers.
If Mayweather wins, Paul can retreat shame-free into the entourage of a similarly bratty brother who’ll no doubt dare the old man to take another risk and go for the familial daily double. But if Paul wins, the debate is over before it begins and it’ll be a long time – and it’d take a generational talent – to get the playing field anywhere close to level again.
“It is damage either way,” ex-HBO blow-by-blow man Jim Lampley told Boxing Scene. “If he wins every minute or whacks the guy he hasn't proven anything, just unnecessarily reinforced what we already knew. If he has competitive trouble or loses, well, he's an idiot who stayed too long at the fair.
“To gain anything from this he would have to repeat what he did with McGregor: Coast and offer opportunities early to make the opponent seem legit, then overwhelm him with greater knowledge and craft. People aren't tired of that theater yet?”
Not exactly the best news for Mayweather’s promotional side, considering his operation is putting on a title fight with its top active commodity – Gervonta Davis – just seven weeks after Mayweather-Paul.
It’s been hard enough for his championship-caliber 135-pounder to get noticed since the June 6 spectacle was officially announced and the subsequent media event silliness commenced, but if Paul is 1-1 come Monday morning, “Money” might want to consider a gig with a little more security.
Something in the communications department at the White House, perhaps.
“For those people telling me that it's impossible. You'd be lying if you said there wasn't a chance that I could beat him,” Paul said. “Yeah, I think I'm going to go in there and decapitate him in the first round, and if it doesn't happen, we're going for the second, and then the third and the fourth.
“Who knows, it could go the distance, but it's going to be a show regardless.”
A show, it seems, with no signs of stopping.
Unless, of course, Floyd has fooled us all once again.
“I don't think Floyd will suffer any damage to his legacy should he get beaten up or lose to Logan Paul, who is so much bigger, in addition is Mayweather's age,” SiriusXM host Randy Gordon told Boxing Scene. “He knows exactly what he is doing. Always did.”
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
No title fights scheduled.
Last week's picks: 1-1 (WIN: Haney; LOSS: Oubaali)
2021 picks record: 22-7 (75.8 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,178-382 (75.5 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.