In 1993, Sports Illustrated writer Rick Reilly wrote an essay entitled “Too Many Spoilsports”, wherein he illustrated the apparent death of sportsmanship by enumerating event after event of unsportsmanlike conduct, from coaches racking up the score over hapless opponents, to players throwing temper tantrums, to fans using personal taunts on opposing players.
I wonder how he would have described the actions of Floyd Mayweather, Jr., last Sunday.
Mayweather won via a controversial knockout over welterweight champion Victor Ortiz, to keep his unbeaten streak going. After a head butt by Ortiz, Mayweather sucker-punched Ortiz when it wasn’t clear that the match had already re-started. Ortiz, who had apologized for the head butt, was apparently under the impression that there was a break, and had his gloves down when Mayweather clocked him.
Referee Joe Cortez, whose head was turned away from the action, immediately counted Ortiz out, giving the win to Mayweather, and giving the viewers the impression that they were watching a WWE match, rather than a professional boxing match.
Mayweather, true to form, declared it an impressive victory, one that apparently added to his Hall-of-Fame credentials. He also berated HBO announcer Larry Merchant and demanded that Merchant be fired for his biased line of questioning. Merchant responded that he would kick Mayweather’s ass had he been younger, and turned his back on Mayweather.
Predictably, Mayweather continued to duck questions on whether or not he would face Manny Pacquiao. While Mayweather holds an unbeaten record, to the boxing enthusiast’s eye, this means nothing until he gets into the ring with Pacquiao. Given Mayweather’s crass attitude towards boxing, I would question, though, if Pacquiao actually has anything to gain from fighting someone who has little or no integrity.
It can’t be denied that Floyd Mayweather, Jr., is an exceptional boxer, but his lack of sportsmanship sullies whatever glory he achieves. Plus, the fact that he continues to avoid facing Pacquiao raises questions as to whether Mayweather actually has the guts to face a worthy opponent. Here’s hoping that the questions will soon goad Mayweather into facing Pacquiao, and here’s hoping that, when that happens, Pacquiao will emerge victorious.