by Paul Magno
There’s nothing better than an “F-You” moment.
The “F-You” moment is where you can face your critics, look them straight in the eye and let out a big “F-You.” If we’re lucky, we get one good “F-You” moment in our lives where we achieve something despite the doubts and negative comments from people who presume to judge us. Bernard Hopkins has had several such moments.
Hopkins’ second fight with Segundo Mercado for the IBF Middleweight title was a solid example of one of those supremely satisfying moments. He was coming off a draw with Mercado in the Rainforest swelter of Quito, Ecuador and, more shockingly, had suffered two knockdowns in the bout. However, Hopkins rose to the occasion in the rematch and soundly won to begin his reign as King of the 160 pounders.
Other “F-You” moments were when he first unified his IBF and the WBC title against slick southpaw, Keith Holmes. Then, his unification with Felix Trinidad, where despite being a champ with 14 defenses, he came in as the 2 to 1 underdog. Also, there was the fight with Antonio Tarver, where Hopkins moved up in weight to dominate the consensus #1 Light Heavyweight in the world following two straight losses to Jermain Taylor.
But the biggest such moment came Saturday, the 18th, when he battered and dominated the 26 year old Kelly Pavlik in a one-sided Boxing clinic. After his loss to Joe Calzaghe, the Hopkins haters were out in force, gleefully predicting a blow-out KO loss to the power-punching Pound 4 Pound fighter from Youngstown, Ohio. As we now all know, Hopkins proved his critics wrong and was eager to point that out.
After the one-sided decision was announced, Hopkins walked over to the side of the ring and stared down the collected Boxing press and front row big shots for a long, awkward amount of time. It was, without a doubt, the king of all “F-You” moments.
Cut to Floyd “Money” Mayweather…
Mayweather was probably watching B-Hop’s dominance from the comfort of his rapidly devaluing, million dollar estate in Las Vegas. A smile had to be plastered all over his face as he watched another real professional fighter buck the system and shove mad skills right down the critics’ throats.
The rush of the “F-You” moment is not lost on Mayweather. In a lot of ways, his entire career has been built around generating them. However, whereas Hopkins’ triumphs were heartfelt and honest displays of his rough past, Mayweather’s attempts at flipping off the establishment have been forced, almost staged.
Sure, there are a couple of moments in his career where he could’ve given a legit “F-You” to his nay-sayers. One would be when a 21 year old Mayweather beat 2 time and 11-defense world champ Genaro Hernandez for his first world title. Another was when he solidly handled Jose Luis Castillo in the rematch of a much tougher than expected first bout.
But, for a good part of his career as a top fighter, Mayweather has seemed to be forcing those “F-You” moments and trying to convince us that what we just saw was the fight that made his legacy complete; The fight that would finally silence the critics.
The Gatti and Baldomir fights were designed to generate “F-You” moments. Mayweather was moving up in weight for both fights, taking on much larger men for world titles at 140 and 147 respectively. The only problem was that Mayweather was so much more skilled, so much more talented, that he made the fights look too easy and both Gatti and Baldomir seemed sickly in comparison.
Then there were the Hatton and De La Hoya fights which were signed in an attempt to fabricate “F-You” moments. However, Mayweather, the favorite, did exactly what was expected of him in both fights and he came out on top. After both victories, tears were shed and the patented “look up to heaven” posture was assumed, but they were hollow celebrations. It’s hard to feel vindicated when a fighter is the favorite coming into the fight and does exactly what most experts expect him to do. In a lot of ways, Mayweather’s own abilities and skills have made it virtually impossible to have that feeling of an underdog winning against all odds that Hopkins surely enjoyed when he mopped the floor with Pavlik.
There’s little doubt that the only thing greater than Mayweather’s skill-set is his ego and for someone with such a sense of the melodramatic, seeing Hopkins stare down the world had to bring about pangs of envy. That was the type of moment “Money“ had been trying to stage for his last 5 or 6 fights, but he was always denied. So, as a result, he would resort to his back up plan to retire over and over again. In the mind of Mayweather, pound 4 pound Boxing‘s talent and ego, he would show his critics off by simply taking his ball and going home.
Now, in his latest (and most serious) retirement, things have changed a bit. Rumors are rampant that Mayweather‘s financial situation may not be as rock solid as previously thought and that he may be taking a beating with some of his investments, not to mention the theft of nearly 7 million dollars in jewelry and other possessions from his home awhile back.
Combine the financial stuff with the feeling among many critics that Mayweather retired just to avoid his biggest ring tests in Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito and you’ve got a real, virtual beat down coming Pretty Boy’s way.
Mayweather has felt the blunt attacks of his critics before and has never let it affect him, but when you take his recent string of bad luck, mix it in with the bad publicity and then add in the high-drama satisfaction of Hopkins‘ victory and post-fight vindication- You get the perfect recipe for a true Mayweather comeback. The difference is that now, if Mayweather decides to come back, he really would be considered an underdog by many. He has to know this and he has to be, at the very least, intrigued by the idea of finally getting that career-defining “F-You” moment.
Will Hopkins’ “F-You” moment pull Boxing’s biggest temperamental prodigy out of a premature retirement? Only time will tell. My guess is that Mayweather’s ego will bring him back long before his bank account does.