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Retiring without a scratch? Priceless

$42,400,000.

It makes sense, no?

Floyd Mayweather Jr. announced his retirement from boxing Friday with a heavy heart but fat wallet. He released a five-paragraph statement, and yet it only took four sentences to reach the part that best defines why he has chosen to pursue other ventures and not subject the world to another snooze-fest victory over Oscar De La Hoya in September.

(For this, we give thanks).

”… these past few years have been extremely difficult for me to find the desire and joy to continue in the sport."

Translation: He is human and, if he truly backs it up by never fighting again, incredibly wise.

Mayweather earned $42.4 million in and out of the ring last year, a portly figure that ranked sixth among athletes and would be enough incentive for anyone not to welcome one more sparring session or HBO cameraman camped out in the living room to record your every $25,000 bet on the evening’s NBA game.

”… I still have my God-given abilities to succeed and future multi-million dollar paydays ahead … But there comes a time when money doesn’t matter. I just can’t do it anymore."

Nor should he. Boxing is not for those whose heart no longer beats for the work it takes to succeed at Mayweather’s level. You can’t fake interest and remain perfect. Rage is an impossible emotion to create if your spirit doesn’t burn as it used to.

Money matters in the sense he has enough now to make it rain more than a Seattle winter, or to at least not complain about filling up his gas tank for another month. Even with his lavish lifestyle — Floyd can spend with the best of them — it’s safe to assume local sports book directors won’t be publicly calling in any late markers.

Think of history’s best athletes. Jim Brown. Tiger Woods. Michael Jordan. Wayne Gretzky. Bo Jackson. Jim Thorpe. Michael Johnson. Pele. Jesse Owens. Roger Federer. Lance Armstrong.

The greatest ones in every sport better than anyone understand pain, sacrifice, commitment, competitiveness, resiliency and poise. But few comprehend those traits better than a championship boxer.

Woods might ultimately prove the fiercest and most competitive athlete to ever walk the earth, but his soon-to-be billion dollar earnings and already countless major championships don’t come with the physical challenges someone like Mayweather endured to include his name among his sport’s supreme participants.

Retire at 31 and considered boxing’s top pound-for-pound fighter? Leave the sport when you remain its best while still owning an earnings potential that includes the number two followed by seven zeroes?

Damn straight.

He walks away from such a grueling profession worth millions of dollars, owner of an Olympic bronze medal, a 39-0 pro record, a six-time champion in five weight classes and with seemingly no enduring damage to his body.

His phenomenal defensive style didn’t sell those megafights against De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton, and hardly produced much electricity and passion among those who watched throughout his career, but it allowed him to build a remarkable resume while probably avoiding long-term medical care at age 40.

How history judges Mayweather is as subjective a notion as it is futile, important mostly to those who like to make lists. He beat everyone who stood across from him, and the fact he didn’t fight the welterweight likes of Miguel Cotto will be given far more attention than deserved by those cynical of his achievements.

It’s like this: You have Sugar Ray Robinson and everyone else. Does it really matter where Mayweather fits in the theater of all-time greats, or is it enough just to own a seat in the first few rows?

Reporters everywhere mourn today, not because Mayweather’s statement was sincere enough to make you believe he might remain retired this time, but at the thought of not having as many Roger Mayweather quotes.

The fighter’s uncle and trainer will undoubtedly continue to work and instruct others, but trimming a 150-word comment down to 10 once all the profanities were eliminated was always a highlight of a Mayweather fight week.

I suppose it could still happen. I imagine a few months from now, Mayweather Jr. could grow tired of tooling around his mansion on a scooter or shopping for another automobile to guarantee he has one for every day of the year, causing him to rethink the idea of again fighting De La Hoya for another massive checking deposit.

I hope he doesn’t. Not many get this opportunity, to leave on top, unscathed and famously wealthy. It makes sense, no?

Ed Graney’s column is published Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. He can be reached at 702-383-4618 or egraney@reviewjournal.com.

 

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