HAVING an ego the size of China’s massive reclamation projects in the West Philippine Sea is the primary reason why American Floyd Mayweather Jr. no longer sleeps with the World Boxing Organization’s (WBO) welterweight (147 pounds) belt at his bedside.
Mayweather Jr. bankrolled more than US$220 million for his May 2 decision win over Manny Pacquiao, but he could not (or would not) settle the $200,000 he owes the WBO as sanctioning fee. The rulebook provides that since the WBO belt was at stake in the mega match, the boxers who took part in it were obligated to pay sanctioning fees.
Mayweather Jr. ardently believes that he is bigger than boxing and can get away with not paying the sanctioning fee because the WBO, or any other boxing organization for that matter, needs him more than he needs them. Case in point: It’s been almost two years since Mayweather Jr. last defended his World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA) junior middleweight (154 pounds) belts but the two organizations have not bothered to strip him of the crowns, much less lift a finger. You can bet the rent money that if it was another boxer in the same situation, the WBC and the WBA would have stripped him in a snap of a finger.
Mayweather Jr. is crying foul because he could not believe that officials of the WBO were able to muster the courage to throw the rulebook squarely at his face. He cannot believe that the WBO, which is not as prestigious as the WBC and the WBA, actually stood its ground and showed the world that regardless of stature, a boxer will be stripped of the crown if he does not abide by the organization’s rules and regulations. Make no mistake, the WBO is far from being the perfect organization, but in the case of Mayweather Jr. it felt the time was perfect to flex its muscle.
It will also be recalled that shortly after beating Pacquiao to win the WBO welterweight title, Mayweather Jr. told the media that he was no longer keen on keeping all the belts in his possession. We are talking a truckload here: WBO, WBC/WBA/ welterweight crowns and the WBA-WBC junior middleweight belts. He told everyone within spitting distance that he was going to relinquish all his crowns to give other fighters a chance to fight for them. He even hinted that his next fight would likely be a non-title affair. Of course, Mayweather Jr. was really speaking with a forked tongue: He knew nobody would dare take the belts away from him because every organization wants to be part of all the publicity the moment he returns to the squared circle and resumes his hunt to duplicate the 49-0 record of former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano.
The WBO apparently had other things in mind. Mayweather Jr. was given additional time to settle the matter of the sanctioning fee but he remained adamant. The WBO also demanded that Mayweather give up the junior middleweight crowns because rules prohibit a fighter from holding more than one division crown. The WBC and the WBA also prohibit fighters from holding world titles in multiple weight classes, but the two organizations relaxed, or better yet disregarded, their own rules because of Mayweather Jr.’s stature. The WBO refused to be intimidated and retaliated with a counterpunch by stripping Mayweather.
The first thing the WBO did was advertise the recent showdown between Timothy Bradley Jr. and Jessie Vargas as a battle for the interim WBO welterweight crown. Bradley defeated Vargas on points to win the interim or temporary belt, but the American now stands to be promoted to regular champion status with the WBO officially stripping Mayweather Jr. Of course, Mayweather Jr. can still appeal the decision of the WBO and he seems bent on pursuing all legal remedies to reclaim the belt.
Truth be told, titles are a dime a dozen in pro boxing. With so many organizations handing out trinkets, the definition of a world champion in the sport has really been prostituted. Mayweather Jr. does not need the WBO. Heck, before beating Pacquiao, he has not even held a WBO belt. But Mayweather Jr. just can’t stand the fact that somebody pulled a fast one on him. In and out of the ring, nobody is supposed to be smarter than Pretty Boy Floyd.
Team Mayweather is calling the WBO’s verdict a “complete disgrace” but maintains that it has zero impact and the fighter plans to continue spending the millions of dollars he earned from the Pacquiao fight.
At the end of the day, you can’t help but wonder just who is really the complete disgrace.