WHENEVER the boxing world is rocked by a tragedy, active fighters are reminded of the dangers they strive every day to ignore.
For those competing, it is a tough reality to have to rationalise and compartmentalise. Yet for retired boxers, even those as accomplished as Floyd Mayweather, it is sometimes just as hard to look the other way and pretend tragedy only befalls boxers with poor defence, prior brain issues or brave corner men.
Following what has been a particularly bad year for ring deaths and injuries, Mayweather today reiterated that his good health is paramount and that despite the money on the table for him to return the harsh reality of the sport is doing its best to convince him to stay away.
“I’ve got calls to get back into the ring, but my health is my wealth,” he told Reuters. “Boxing is a very, very brutal sport. In the last few years a lot of fighters have died inside that squared circle. You have got to know when to hang it up. I had a great career.
“I’ll still travel and do exhibitions. I make great money doing exhibitions: between $10 and $30 million. I think I make more doing that than most fighters make fighting.”
Plenty accused Mayweather of playing it safe during his incredible 50-fight unbeaten professional career. However, given the recent spate of tragedies, it becomes clearer by the day that he was probably just sensible, that is, too quick of thought to have to sacrifice his body or rely solely on toughness.
Essentially, he sussed the game. He completed it the right way and now lives to tell the tale.
“I never call myself a celebrity,” he added. “I’m a legendary icon because when I’m long gone they will still be talking about me.”
It’s true. When Floyd Mayweather is long gone, they will still talk about his famous wins, all those world titles, all that money, the should-roll defence, the artistry, and, yes, the humility. Or perhaps not.
New Zealand’s former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker recently pulled out of a proposed October bout against Dereck Chisora due to a suspected spider bite but reckons he is now ready, willing and able to fight again.
The bite and subsequent illness cost him a trip to London, a sizeable payday and the chance to defeat a fellow heavyweight contender enjoying something of an Indian summer. Instead of boxing, Parker had to watch Liverpool’s David Price take his place and succumb to Chisora inside four rounds. Instead of a decent finish to a frustrating year, his woes continue.
Now Parker, whose 2018 was unusually lucrative (due to back-to-back UK pay-per-view headline slots against Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte), is at the mercy of his promoter, Matchroom Boxing, and can feel himself sliding down the pecking order.
“They were supposed to give us a decision (regarding his next fight) last week,” the 27-year-old told NewsHub. “Now they’ve said they’ll give us a decision this week.”
Parker is apparently tired of waiting to hear from Matchroom Boxing and Hearn, with whom he signed in June, and is annoyed to have not got anything lined up before the end of the year.
In an ideal world, Parker says, a spot on the undercard of the December 7 heavyweight title rematch between Andy Ruiz Jnr and Anthony Joshua would have made sense.
“They tell you when to fight, when you can be on,” he continued. “It’s good to be with them, but also it’s frustrating at times.
“I have no regrets in my life. I just wanted to fight before the end of the year.
“They said the cards were so full and planned well ahead that there was no space or opportunity for us to be on the card. We tried to get on any card, lowered the purse… we did everything we could.”
After a great 2018, at least in terms of money banked, Joseph Parker has this year been brought back down to earth with a thud. A strange sensation, too, given his pockets are considerably lighter than they were 12 months ago.