Why Floyd Mayweather chose such a disappointing opponent for his final fight

48. 49. 50?
48. 49. 50?
Image: AP Photo/Isaac Brekken
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There are multiple clips online showing off the best of boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr:

There are none for Andre Berto, the opponent chosen by the undefeated Mayweather to fight him in September in Las Vegas. Of all the boxers in all the gyms in the world…

No-one is impressed by the choice, especially as this is supposed to be Mayweather’s last fight—and also the last owed under his current US cable television deal—before he almost certainly retires undefeated at 49-0. Berto “belongs at the bottom end of the world’s top 20,” according to the BBC. Berto, who has lost three of his past six fights, “doesn’t figure to present a serious challenge to the five-division champion, stylistically or athletically,” said Boxing Junkie

This isn’t a very eye-catching way to go out when you claim to be the best boxer ever, and few will pay to watch Mayweather fight no-hopers. So a Berto bout doesn’t make much sense, especially financially, for Mayweather—a man known as much for his business acumen outside the ring as much as his skills with the gloves on. So why choose Berto?

The answer may be found in Mayweather’s last fight, the biggest of all time, against Manny Pacquiao in May. Mayweather easily won that match but it was a huge disappointment to the millions of casual fans who tuned in expecting an MMA-style beatdown and got a masterclass in defensive pugilism. And after all the hype leading up to the fight of the century, choosing Mayweather’s next opponent was never going to be easy. Stephen Espinoza, the general manager of Showtime Sports, seems to have let the reason slip when he told USA Today Sports:

Reality is, virtually anybody (after Pacquiao) will be some kind of letdown. Floyd came to the conclusion Berto will provide an entertaining fight and especially for those that were disappointed by the Manny Pacquiao fight.

Berto, then, will serve as a human punching bag for the amusement of casual fans. Which makes the most sense if this isn’t in fact Mayweather’s last match. Perhaps Mayweather wants an “entertaining fight” to keep up interest in his bouts before he goes for one more to surpass Rocky Marciano’s undefeated record of 49-0. An out-of-contract Mayweather can then name his price to fight a decent opponent on his terms. Berto becomes less of a contest, and more of a tune-up, to a record-breaking 50th win.

Who will that next opponent be? Let the speculation commence.