1. His behavior is unbecoming for a champion. It has to do with the way he has obstructed the possibility of fighting Manny Pacquiao—a true champion would find a way. Also, Mayweather is supposed to go to jail for 3 months on charges of domestic abuse. He is less than glorious.
2. He looks fantastic. He is handsome, and not handsome for a boxer. Just handsome.
3. He doesn’t get hit much. This is part of #2. He does not have the appearance of someone who has been battered and concussed. He has the easy confidence of someone who has never been smashed in the face; this is either a stupendous optical illusion or a tribute to how well he can dodge blows. Either way it restores some of the champ-qualities missing in #1.
4. He has a pretty ring style to protect a pretty face. “Pretty” is probably the wrong word. He has a ring style like no other. His ability to duck and weave is borderline precognitive. He is there and then he is not there. He is untouchable.
5. I think he thinks he’s being like Muhammad Ali. I think he considers that a germane comparison—as though Mayweather’s early retirement is equivalent to Ali’s exile, and Mayweather’s defenses are equivalent to Ali’s dancing. The second of these comparisons is defensible, but my sense is that Mayweather does not stop there. When he changed his nickname from Pretty Boy Floyd to Money Mayweather, I think he thought that was self-aggrandizing in the same tradition as Ali’s dozens.
6. He’s undefeated. This is the one thing he has on everyone, including Pacquiao, and including Ali. No one has ever beaten Floyd Mayweather Jr.
7. He’s getting old, maybe. Is 35 old? I worry about this. When he beat Ortiz last year by dirty knockout, it made me wonder if Mayweather had been dreading going the distance. I hope this was not on his mind. I do not want the beauty of Mayweather’s impossible ring style to be marred by the late-career panic of a 35-year-old.
8. He’s rich. Perhaps too rich. It could be doing Howard Hughes–type things to his mind. It could be the reason for #5.
9. He is one of the world’s exceptional talents. He goes entire rounds without being struck. He denies his opponents even the simple satisfaction of having their punches blocked. He taunts and makes a point to score with right hand leads in the first round. He makes heavyweight boxers look slow and retarded. He inspires glowing reportage such as this, and the reason is not that he does things that make us roll our eyes. The reason is that he has mastered boxing. His style is flashy and invincible, and in boxing, as in rock and roll, style counts a lot. This is why I root for Floyd Mayweather Jr. He makes the genius of boxing obvious to anyone watching.