Wednesday 18 December 2019

Floyd Mayweather: Retirement and the Boxer

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has not fought a competitive boxing match since August 2017 when he defeated mixed martial artist Conor McGregor in Nevada, Las Vegas. Since then, he has fought an exhibition bout in Japan against Tenshin Nasukawa, but otherwise has remained inactive. However, last month, he announced that he was coming out of retirement in 2020. A deal appears to have been struck with Dana White, the president of the UFC. Could Mayweather be fighting in a competitive, sanctioned bout in the boxing ring after professing to have hung up his gloves a final time after retiring undefeated in 50 bouts?

Floyd Mayweather Jr. achieved the enviable feat of bowing out of the sport with a perfect record and a healthy bank balance and investment portfolio. The inevitable question that follows the announced intention of staging a comeback is ‘Why’?

Is it related to a condition of unadulterated egotism? Or is there a financial motive? Knowing Mayweather, it is likely a combination of both. Boxers tend to be imbued with a peculiar mindset. They continually seek to challenge themselves and draw from the mountain well knowing very well that they will be pitting themselves not only against an opponent, but will also have to contend with the degenerative factors of the ageing process, as well as the accumulated wear and tear of years of combat.

For most, although by no means all, the boxer, whether supremely gifted or modestly endowed, champion or journeyman, the difficulty of keeping to a promise of retirement is seemingly an ineradicable flaw. If ego is the issue, then Mayweather has an abundance of it. Boxing kept his name in the limelight in a manner like no other endeavour he is presently undertaking can ever do. There is no indication that he is financially strapped, yet money would be a large factor: He will enjoy the prospect of setting some form of a record or another in regard to box office takings.

There is however a more mundane explanation. Retirement of any form places a huge psychological burden on the average and not-so-average human. The everyday routine which encouraged discipline and concentration is lost and as a result a restlessness and a lack of focus may take root. Thus, from the retiree’s perspective, coming out of retirement may serve as a sort of panacea to such malady.

Boxing is replete with boxers either prolonging a career or coming out of retirement due to financial problems. However, in Mayweather’s case it will be about substantially increasing his financial portfolio. The chances of him lacing the gloves to face a challenging boxer such as the welterweight champion Terence Crawford are slim to none. Instead, he will likely be matched against a star from the sport of mixed martial arts but fight under the Marquis of Queensberry Rules. And in doing this, he will also adhere to his tried and tested modus operandi of seeking maximum reward from a minimal risk enterprise.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2019)

Adeyinka Makinde is the author of the books Jersey Boy: The Life and Mob Slaying of Frankie DePaula and Dick Tiger: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal. He is also a contributor to the Cambridge Companion to Boxing (Part of the Cambrigde Companions to Literature Series) with the following essays: “The Africans: Boxing and Africa” and “Jose Torres: The Boxer as Writer”.

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