Floyd Mayweather’s ridiculous, not-so-ridiculous show against Logan Paul

“Why is Floyd Mayweather coming in the ring with me?” This is the question Logan Paul asked in a recent promotional video, and he wasn’t the only one wondering. Floyd Mayweather, Jr., is one of the great boxers of the contemporary era, a skillful and elusive virtuoso. He ran his record at 49-0, and then in 2015 he retired, having absorbed a relatively small amount of punishment and an absolutely large amount of money. (He would have won over two hundred million dollars for a single fight, against Manny Pacquiao.) Since then, Mayweather hasn’t retired for a series of novelty fights: he has exhausted and arrested mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor in 2017, and he quickly dispatched a kickboxer named Tenshin Nasukawa the following year. Mayweather was happy to find that after conquering the world of professional boxing, he can now get paid to box people who are not professionals. And Sunday night, in Miami, he is expected to box eight rounds against Logan Paul.

Paul, like Mayweather’s two previous opponents, is not much of a professional boxer. Unlike them, he’s not much of a professional fighter of any kind – in fact, part of the reason some people like him, and a lot of others don’t, is that he doesn’t appear to be a professional. whatever. He dropped out of college to make wacky online videos alongside his younger brother, Jake Paul, and he hit a viral infamy on New Years Eve 2017, when he posted a video in which he visited a forest in Japan known as a site of suicides, and encountered the body of a man who had apparently hanged himself. (Paul, wearing a lime green hat with an antenna and three eyeballs, inspired by the aliens from ‘Toy Story’, says, “I think there’s someone hanging right there. I’m not even kidding. ! ”) Logan Paul is a blond jock who projects a bro-ish self-confidence; this character, combined with the tasteless video, made him an international outcast, a symbol of everything everyone hated about YouTubers and other online influencers.

So why is Mayweather stepping into the ring with Paul? Because people, maybe a lot of them, are willing to pay $ 49.99 to see the result. In Mayweather’s heyday, he was the sport’s most trusted a la carte attraction, largely because he was so good and so polarizing: Fans were eager to see a series of opponents try – and, invariably, fail – to silence him. In this case, many paying customers will no doubt expect Mayweather to shut up. After all, he is a legendary boxer, and Paul’s official boxing record is 0-1, which only slightly understates his experience: in addition to this official loss, he has an unofficial draw, of an exhibition fight against the same opponent, a YouTuber and rapper known as KSI. Sunday’s fight is a exposure, too, not an official match. Knockdowns and knockouts are allowed, but there will be no judges, and possibly no winner – if the fight goes the distance, spectators will have to decide for themselves who does best. Even so, Paul has a chance to give Mayweather his first loss, while also securing his own first victory.

But what luck? Not a lot, according to the punters. As the fight approached, Paul conceded Mayweather’s huge technical advantage, and he emphasized his superior provocation skills. At a press conference in May, Paul’s brother Jake confronted Mayweather and snatched his white baseball cap then flipped around to run singing “Gotcha hat!” Enraged Mayweather gave chase, accompanied by a pack of bodyguards; in this promotional video, Jake Paul said Mayweather finally caught up with him and delivered an uppercut to him. Hours later, Jake Paul commemorated the meeting by uploading a video of him wearing sunglasses, perhaps to hide a black eye, while getting his new slogan tattooed: “gotcha hat”. Jake Paul is also a boxer and more accomplished than his older brother, with a 3-0 record against a series of increasingly credible opponents. On August 28, it is slated to fight Tyron Woodley, a former MMA champion; unlike his brother, he has a good chance of winning.

At the start of the press conference, Mayweather reminded the crowd of Logan Paul’s Japanese mishap. “You have to pay for what you did in Japan,” Mayweather said. “I know what you did to your wife,” Paul replied. Mayweather was never married, but in 2012 he spent two months in prison after an altercation with Josie Harris, the mother of three of his children. Harris passed away last year, of what was considered a accidental overdose. Often times, just when it looks like boxing couldn’t be more ridiculous, it stops being ridiculous at all.

Boxing fans often put money on the underdog because the faint hope of a big win is more exciting than the near certainty of a small win. Once you have placed such a bet, of course, you are bound to look for reasons to hope, and every underdog provides them. Best of all for Paul is he’s bigger than Mayweather: he made his professional debut at cruiserweight (two hundred pounds), where many of Mayweather’s biggest fights were at welterweight (one hundred and forty-seven), a division in which he had already seemed small. Paul stands about six foot two, where Mayweather is five-eight. Paul was asked, in the video, if he thought Mayweather was neglecting something. “He’s not neglecting anything, because he can’t see over me,” Paul replied, smirking, and gestured to his own bare chest. ” He looks good here. Direct eye contact with the pinches.

Plus, Paul is only twenty-six, while Mayweather is forty-four, a grandfather in the ring and also a grandfather out of the ring—earlier this year, her daughter, known as Yaya, gave birth to a baby boy. (The father is apparently NBA Youngboy, one of the most pierce and struggling hip-hop stars of the day.) Especially for a fighter like Mayweather, known for his speed and reflexes, age poses an existential threat. Four years ago, Conor McGregor was competitive against Mayweather, for a while, and although Mayweather later claims that he only left McGregor hanging around to make the fight “look good,” there’s an alternate explanation: maybe Mayweather just isn’t as fast as before. If he continues to book fights against young, underqualified opponents, he’ll eventually find someone who isn’t supposed to beat him, and beat him anyway. It would be rather sad and embarrassing if that someone was Logan Paul.

Not sad and embarrassing, of course, for Paul himself, who touted his foray into boxing as a journey of personal growth. For now, he’s swapped social media stardom, widely seen as one of the easiest jobs in the world, for boxing, widely seen as one of the toughest. He thinks – or, at any rate, he said he believes that this willingness to work hard and suffer severe punishment has provided him with a chance for redemption. In a recent pre-combat documentary, he called the fury surrounding his Japanese video the “lowest point” of his life. “Boxing has given me the opportunity to hit the reset button of my life,” he said. “Literally fight for who I wanted to be.” This is, in all respects, a grueling form of self-fulfillment: stepping into a ring where there’s a good chance Floyd Mayweather, Jr., will beat you. But anyone who enjoys boxing may find it difficult to dismiss Paul completely. At least so far, his ability to punch people in the face is less impressive and less interesting than his willingness to get punched in the face, especially since he has gentler work opportunities. In this case, as is often the case with boxing, uselessness is the point. Sport is inseparable from suffering; even Mayweather, known for his risk-averse approach, will surely pay the price for his long and extraordinary professional career, which began a quarter of a century ago and is not yet over. Paul thinks that on Sunday night he can earn some respect, and perhaps mark a shocking upset from a great or once great boxer. And he may be right, although he is almost certainly wrong.

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