Sugar Ray Leonard exuded a boyish, innocence that made him mothers’ ideal for their daughters. That it countered much we later learned about Leonard mattered not during his heyday. As Leonard faded, Mike Tyson commanded attention in a raw, primal Alpha Male way: swiftly delivered brute power. Oscar de la Hoya came off like a Hispanic version of Leonard, softened even more for our 12-round championship-fight, headgear-in-amateur boxing times.
One speaker Friday compared Alvarez to mythic actor James Dean, and there’s more than a passing resemblance. One hopes the 23-year-old Alvarez will leave a larger body of work.
He’ll do well to last as long as Mayweather. The 36-year-old seemed almost reflective Friday at times.
Mayweather has heard his greatness gets diminished because he’s rarely, if ever, been in true peril. We do this with individual athletes more so than teams and with boxers more so than anyone else. Mayweather gets it because he too well embodies the Manly Art of Self-Defense without the thrilling power. He seems to win too easily.
“A lot of times, people look back at my career and say, ‘Floyd Mayweather hasn’t faced anyone,’ ” he said. “They’re just saying that because they want to see me in a toe-to-toe battle and me beat up, and I get knocked down and get up and win. Like a Rocky movie.
“But this is real boxing,” Mayweather continued. “I feel like my career wouldn’t have lasted so long if I’d been in toe-to-toe battles. I was a smart fighter. The cool thing about my career is I’ve taken no punishment; I’ve made a lot of money; and I’ll retire a very, very wealthy man and very healthy and being smart.”
Because people keep paying to see if the latest Oscar, Shane or Canelo can at least do something about the healthy part. They’re touring the country to get you to gamble on at least one more time.