By Keith Idec
LOS ANGELES – Floyd Mayweather’s message was crystal clear.
If you have a problem with Gervonta Davis’ opponent Saturday night, or any of Davis’ opposition since he became Davis’ promoter, Mayweather wants you to blame him. Or Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather Promotions’ CEO. Anyone but Davis himself.
Mayweather made it known during a press conference Thursday at the Los Angeles Airport Westin for Davis’ fight against Hugo Ruiz on Saturday night that Davis hasn’t turned down a single opponent Mayweather and Ellerbe have brought to him.
“Every time he has came to me,” Mayweather said, “when I say, ‘Who you wanna fight?,’ he say, ‘It doesn’t matter.’ So he don’t pick and choose. So, if y’all wanna criticize anybody, criticize me, criticize Leonard Ellerbe or criticize whoever. But don’t criticize the fighters. The fighter’s job is to go out there and fight and be the best that they could possibly be.”
The 24-year-old Davis (20-0, 19 KOs) was supposed to defend his WBA “super” world super featherweight title against Abner Mares on Saturday night in Carson, California. Mares (31-3-1, 15 KOs), a three-division champion from Downey, California, withdrew from their fight last week because he suffered a detached retina in his right eye during a sparring session two weeks ago.
Ruiz replaced Mares on just 10 days’ notice, but only after numerous potential substitutes turned down an opportunity to oppose Davis in a “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event. Most online sports books list Baltimore’s Davis as a 50-1 favorite against Mexico’s Ruiz (39-4, 33 KOs), who’ll fight for the second time in three weeks when he boxes Davis at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Large factions of fans consistently call for Davis to fight Vasiliy Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs), the WBA world lightweight champion who now boxes one division above Davis.
Mayweather has repeatedly stated that Davis and Lomachenko will operate on opposite paths, at least until a bout between them becomes worth more money. Davis told BoxingScene.com before Thursday’s press conference that he wants to fight Lomachenko, yet he respects Mayweather’s advice.
Lomachenko-Davis isn’t comparable to Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao as an event, but if anyone understands what it takes to build a rivalry into a more profitable fight, it’s the highest-earning boxer in the history of the sport. Mayweather-Pacquiao generated more than $600 million in overall revenue in May 2015 and earned Mayweather himself well over $200 million.
“I’ll tell Tank this, for years, Tank, they criticized me from the beginning,” Mayweather said. “First, they said [things about] the fighters, I was the smaller man. Then, when I was the knockout artist, they said, ‘Mayweather’s not fighting against nobody.’ And then, when I became an older fighter and my body broke down and I was going the distance, they said, ‘Well, Mayweather don’t got the knockout power.’ What you keep doing is going out there and winning. You fight for you and your family and your children. That’s what’s important.
“Me, myself, if I don’t throw another punch a day in my life, I made smart investments. And that’s the ultimate goal for us to help you do, make smart investments on the outside. Because soon – I’ve been at the top for 23 years – when I was at the top at the beginning, it was none of these writers, totally different writers. They’re gonna write good about you, they’re gonna write bad about you. But the ultimate goal is as long as they write about you. That’s the ultimate goal.”
Even in retirement, the 41-year-old Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) has been the subject of countless articles recently. Most of those stories pertain to speculation regarding a July rematch against the 40-year-old Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.