Floyd Mayweather fails to pay fans the courtesy he affords Trump | Kevin Mitchell


Floyd Mayweather, the narcissistic former champion, may be one of the greats but he prioritised sleep over any show of respect at a recent engagement in London

Floyd Mayweather deserves to be regarded as the finest defensive boxer of his time and one of the best welterweights in history, although, contrary to his own repeated assertions, not greater than either of the Sugar Rays, Robinson and Leonard.

Anyway, what Mayweather does not deserve until he proves otherwise is the respect of British fans who came away from his recent speaking tour livid that he had short-changed them.

Anyone gullible enough to pay to watch a freak show between Floyd and the UFC star Conor McGregor in Las Vegas on 20 June (the latest date being pushed) was probably among the hundreds of disappointed punters who waited several hours for Mayweather while he had a two-hour nap before granting them an audience after midnight in London. When he got there, he said little of consequence, which has been his schtick for a long time. Still, it is of a piece with one of sports enduring narcissists.

Mayweather is not slow to remind people he is still the biggest name in boxing (which is true, even though he has not thrown a punch since he closed out his career at 49-0 against Andre Berto 18 months ago). And he does have some important friends: like Donald Trump.

Mayweather might have treated his British fans lightly but he is not always so rude. He was quick to accept an invitation to the inauguration of Trump, whom he is proud to call a friend. There is no evidence he turned up but, strangely, Floyd did not get a namecheck on a shortlist of celebrities that sets a new low in shortlists. Maybe he was having a nap.

Golovkin, the real deal

The sports best boxer post-Mayweather, Gennady Golovkin, returns to the ring at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, six months after beating up the brave but smaller Kell Brook in London. His opponent is Daniel Jacobs, who overcame a rare form of bone cancer that partly paralysed him from the waist down six years ago to rise to the summit of his sport. We didnt know if he was going to be able to walk again, his trainer Andre Rozier said.

Anyone who thinks boxing is just showbusiness should maybe look more closely at the people who provide the entertainment. They are not just song-and-dance performers who throw exciting punches on the night; the sacrifices they make are bigger than those made by nearly anyone in sport.

They rightly call 30-year-old Brownsville graduate Jacobs The Miracle Man and he does not appear to have an enemy in the business although the 29 opponents he has stopped in 33 bouts might have reservations about his charity to mankind. The odds are, though, that Golovkin will not be number 30.

Golovkin is 35 next month, a number Oscar De la Hoya keeps in his mind in the tortuous discussions he has had with the champion for a showdown with Sal lvarez. Canelo has chosen instead to fight his Mexican compatriot, Julio Csar Chvez, in May. lvarez-Golovkin has to happen; when is the conundrum.

But the smiling man from Kazakhstan who calls California home is that rare beast in boxing: an ageless champion with plenty of patience.

Gennady Golovkin, left, and Daniel Jacobs flank Michael Buffer on the New York Stock Exchange trading floor. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

He will get old at some point probably in the space of a few rounds, much the same as Kostya Tszyu did when he lost his 33rd and final contest to Ricky Hatton in 2005 but Golovkin is the youngest old guy in boxing right now, and he should take his flawless record to 37 wins with 34 stoppages in New York on Saturday night.

The night before in the same vaunted venue, the passionate Irishman Michael Conlan begins his professional journey on St Patricks Day, headlining the show in a six-rounder against the 26-year-old American bantamweight, Tim Ibarra. If it goes well, a lot more will be heard from the Belfast boxer who drowned the arena at the Rio Olympics in expletives before walking away from the amateurs another fighter disillusioned by incompetent judging.

Nice guy Crolla

In an environment of unrelenting hype Anthony Crolla has always been refreshingly his own man. This is his take on his rematch with Jorge Linares at the Manchester Arena on 25 March. Last time I come up short, he told Sky. There wasnt a lot in it but the right man won. This time, with those improvements, I believe this time the result will be different.

Listen, hes a cool guy. Hes a real nice guy. Im going to have a chat with him in a minute. Well shake hands before it, well go to war and well shake hands after it. Thats how it will be in every fight. Got to be a big grudge match and I know a lot of people like that, but me and him, its hard really to be like that. Nonetheless, once the bell goes, well go to war.

Nice guy Francis

Dean Francis never got to challenge for a full world title, although he was good enough and he almost certainly would be in line for a shot today. But the one-time British and Commonwealth champion has a bigger fight on his hands cancer and his many friends are rallying round the nice guy from Basingstoke who made his name fighting out of Bristol, where he still trains. If you want to help and you should you can. His good friend Lee Haskins, the IBF world bantamweight champion, has set up a fund for him.

Katsidis still punching

It is 10 years since Michael Katsidis, little known then outside Australia, had his small-hall war with Graham Earl in Bethnal Green, one of the sports up-and-down classics. It is nine years since he scared the life out of the excellent Cuban Joel Casamayor in a world title fight in California; seven years since he knocked out Kevin Mitchell at Upton Park; six years since Ricky Burns outpointed him over 12 rounds at Wembley; three years since Tommy Coyle looked to have ended his long career when he stopped him in two rounds in Hull; and it is only a couple of days since Katsidis outpointed Josh King (whom Burns stopped in 11 rounds two years ago) over eight rounds at a club show in Toowoomba, Queensland, at the age of 36 and was still only four pounds heavier than when he beat Earl at York Hall. Now thats a fighter.

Some things never change

A concluding word on how boxers should conduct themselves: from more than 200 years ago, by the man who turned fighting from thuggering into a science

It is undoubtedly a fact that some men of turbulent and vindictive dispositions have made a bad use of their pugilistic powers, and have thereby become obnoxious and disgraceful members of society; but these instances occur not frequently, and when they do they must be acknowledged to result from the abuse and not from the right use of the art. The robust and athletic should never forget that excellent observation of Shakespeare: It is good to have a giants strength but merciless to use it like a giant. Daniel Mendoza, Memoirs (1816).

Read more: www.theguardian.com


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