Floyd Mayweather Jr and the Don King Conundrum

All is not well in the Mayweather camp.

Team Mayweather has just had their heads handed to them by Top Rank in a head-to-head public relations battle following the entire Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fiasco. Granted, Team Mayweather is limited to a couple of “yes men” and Mayweather, himself, but it was an ugly ass-whuppin’ nonetheless.

The Top Rank publicity machine made Team Mayweather look like The Three Stooges and whenever the Mayweather group attempted some sort of damage control, all the press had to do was stick a microphone in Floyd Sr.’s face and any momentum would be immediately lost.

As a matter of fact, Mayweather has been Top Rank’s public relations whipping boy since he left the promotional company a few years back. Top Rank head, Bob Arum, has floated rumors, half-truths and flat-out lies about his former client with complete and absolute impunity mostly because there has been no real, experienced public relations person behind Mayweather.

Mayweather, through his own inexperience and arrogance, is completely inept at handling the media and the public. This may not have cost him much in terms of money or ability to sell a fight, but it sure has affected his legacy as both a world class fighter and as a man.

You can see the effect amongst fans and media alike. Lines like: “He’s afraid to take risks, afraid to lose his ‘0’…” are direct quotes from Bob Arum and have been passed from Arum to the media to the public and back to the media. And, whether they’re true or not, they are allowed to spread and become common knowledge, attaching themselves to Mayweather and clouding the public’s perception.

Take, for example, the rumors floating around about who Mayweather was considering for a replacement opponent after the first Manny-Floyd talks fell apart.

The rumors floated to the media had Mayweather exploring bouts, even nearly coming to terms, with smaller and/or outclassed guys like Paulie Malignaggi, Matthew Hatton, Nate Campbell and even 19-year old Saul Alvarez. Very fitting for a fighter so cowardly and careful, right?

Unfortunately, little by little, all of these fighters personally denied the rumor. They had no contact with anyone about a fight with Floyd, although all would surely have taken such a generous payday.

Of course, the denials were buried in interviews and never got the front page treatment that the rumor received. Most fight fans probably weren’t aware that the denials were even made.

The rumor became larger than the truth. And this wasn’t the first time that it happened. It’s happened consistently from the time Mayweather left Top Rank to the present and, with nobody smart enough or thoughtful enough to fight back, it’s likely to continue on into the future.

Despite Bob Arum’s Harvard education, Arum has succeeded in boxing because he has the mentality of a street hustler. Bold, brash, almost insultingly blatant in his deceit. He’s the Three-card Monte scam artist who will look you in the eye and pledge his honesty, even after the Queen of Hearts falls from under his sleeve.

This is something that neither Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy, nor any other promoter can truly deal with. How do you handle someone with such a blatant pathology for the scam and con?

Enter Don King.

Don King is a street hustler. He grew up on the streets, paid his dues on both sides of the hustle. He lives what Arum has learned to master and, as such, has always been Bob Arum’s kryptonite in past head-to-head dealings.

King also understands that in order to get in position to hustle properly, you have to grab the biggest asset and hold on tight.

He ruled the sport and called all the shots in the 80’s-early 90’s by simply having exclusive rights to Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez.

In the year 2010, Floyd Mayweather is King’s ticket back to relevance following a professional drought that saw him drop to third (or even fourth) among promotional companies.

It’s no wonder that King has been courting Mayweather like a doting boyfriend. Nothing’s too good for Floyd. $500 lobster, private house parties, ringside seats for Alexander-Kotelnik. King is wooing Floyd like he did with every other fighter he wanted. Except King’s usual suitcase of cash and blank contract has been replaced by much more subtle, symbolic rewards.

“For him it’s all a matter of the disrespect that he’s feeling and them not listening to him,” King said. “It’s all about pride and dignity. I understand him completely because we share a common background as rising from the ghetto.

“He wants his dignity, his respect and his pride to remain intact and he wants to get paid. That’s where I come in. I’m the mix master.”

To an ego maniac, like Floyd Mayweather, this kind of stuff is music to the ears, especially considering the fact that King, just in the last two or three days, has given more public relations support to Floyd than his entire alliance with Golden Boy has managed to produce over the last year.

Another appealing factor to Mayweather has to be that King definitely knows how to make things big. Don King doesn’t waste his time leaking rumors to two-bit boxing websites, he goes directly for ABC, CNN and FOX. And with his notoriety and circus act, he’s the only boxing promoter routinely given access to the mainstream media. Obviously, this is another ego stroke to the man ranked #2 behind Tiger Woods On FORBES’ list of highest paid athletes.

Don’t forget, also, that nobody plays the race card better than Don King. If Mayweather truly feels disrespected and abused, King will likely point out that there’s really only one African-American among his circle of associates.

Floyd Mayweather is the textbook case for a fighter likely to fall into the clutches of Don King.

It’s not about money, although several promises have surely been made. Rather, it’s about appealing to Mayweather’s massive ego. Even more than an experienced PR rep, Floyd needs someone to tell him that he’s the best and the greatest and the greatest at being the best. This is his nature and it’s something sorely lacking in his current self-managed mess of a career.

But, what Floyd needs to remember is that almost every major fighter ever associated with Don King has eventually accused King of theft and/or other wrongdoings.

A deal with Don King may very well be a deal with the devil. Will Floyd be willing to sell his soul?

Tags: , , , , , ,