The stubborn defiance is nothing new. The position of contentment in retirement that Floyd Mayweather Jr. expresses now was seen before in 2008, 2012 and 2015.
Each time, when the riches of an enticing prizefight beckoned, he climbed back into the ring.
So to see Mayweather (50-0) express indifference on the MGM Grand big screens Saturday night, when Showtime’s Jim Gray asked him if he’d accept Manny Pacquiao’s challenge for a rematch in the moments after Pacquiao’s dissection of former four-division champion Adrien Broner, is a familiar sight that has proved unreliable before.
The only difference now might be that Mayweather, who turns 42 next month, is further comforted by the riches of his previous comebacks — the six-fight Showtime deal that included the record $600-million revenue he shared with Pacquiao in 2015, the payoff from his novelty fight with UFC star Conor McGregor, even the $9 million he pocketed for a one-round exhibition in Japan on New Year’s Eve.
Yet, the fire to continue to prove there’s no one better still burns in Mayweather. It’s why he just so happened to run into Pacquiao in Japan last year, again at a Clippers game this month and at Saturday’s fight, when he could’ve observed from afar as he did during fight-week events.
Nope, instead he appeared in the arena, building the anticipation for a second meeting with Pacquiao, who was weakened by a torn right rotator cuff when Mayweather defeated him by unanimous decision in 2015.
That bout generated a record 4.6-million pay-per-view buys, and though its incredible dullness turned mainstream sports fans away from boxing, this would be an opportunity to repair a sport both fighters have given their lives to.
Pacquiao (61-7-2) is game after winning his first fight at age 40, retaining his World Boxing Assn. secondary welterweight belt against Broner by unanimous-decision scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 116-112, and frustrating the challenger who was 11 years younger yet landed only 50 punches.
“If he wants to come out of retirement, announce it and challenge me. Challenge me and we will take the fight,” Pacquiao said. “I’m still here in this sport. Whatever my promoter gives to me, I will fight. That’s my promoter’s job: to find my opponent.”
His promoter Al Haymon, the manager who runs Premier Boxing Champions, might be the most powerful man in boxing, but even his consultation won’t necessarily move Mayweather, said Leonard Ellerbe, president of Mayweather Promotions.
Mayweather’s adherence to retirement — or at least to keeping everyone waiting until he’s ready to announce his return on his terms, and not with a camera in his face while 13,025 in the arena and hundreds of thousands of pay-per-view viewers are watching — was sold proudly by Ellerbe in Saturday’s post-fight news conference.
Ellerbe said “no” when asked if Pacquiao’s win was convincing enough to compel Mayweather to return.
“He has nothing else to prove. I’m very happy for him. He’s retired. He has no interest in doing that,” Ellerbe said. “It’s not always about the money, believe it or not. What more can the man do? He doesn’t have the motivation, the desire.
“He’s living his best life, traveling, running his multiple businesses, spending his hard-earned winnings. He’ll be 42 come Feb. 24 and enough is enough.
“What good does it do to earn all that money if you can’t hang around to spend it?”
Good points, all of which have been said and undone before when Mayweather felt the itch to cash in on a fight that begged for him.
Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach, returning to his fighter’s corner following a brief absence, watched the way Pacquiao battered Broner at times and completely defused the fighter’s plan to win with counterpunching, and said Pacquiao is ready for Mayweather again.
“He looked great, fought very well,” Roach said. “I have no idea if Floyd will come back, but I know Manny can fight a much better fight than the first time. I would like to get that one back. There are other people out there, but yes, of course, [a Mayweather rematch] makes the most sense.”
Pacquiao has said breaks in his Senate obligations in the Philippines will free him for a fight in May or July. Possible opponents include WBA champion Keith Thurman, who fights Riverside’s Josesito Lopez on Saturday in New York, World Boxing Council champion Shawn Porter or former champion Danny Garcia, but they pale in significance.
“I will ask my promoters who’s next and we will announce that in proper time,” Pacquiao promised.
Broner, meanwhile, continued his disappointing descent from who he might’ve been. He stayed upright in the face of Pacquiao’s considerable pressure, but accomplished little besides a memorable post-fight quote.
“They was hoping I’d come in here and get destroyed. That didn’t happen. I will be champion again. I ain’t got a mark on me,” Broner said after earning a guaranteed $2.5 million plus pay-per-view profits.
“I’m not going to sit here and be sad. I feel good. I still look good. It’s time to cash checks and have sex.”
Earlier Saturday, new WBA interim light-heavyweight champion Marcus Browne defeated former super-middleweight champion Badou Jack by decision after Jack was badly bloodied by a forehead gash from a seventh-round head butt.
“When I saw it open a little bit, I made sure I kept touching it and it became a big, bloody bath,” said Browne, who wants to next meet the new WBC champion, Oxnard-trained Oleksandr Gvozdyk, while he awaits the winner of WBA champion Dmitry Bivol’s March 9 meeting against Joe Smith Jr.