It looked like easy money, and there’s no one more qualified to judge that then the founder and titular head of The Money Team.
But sometimes chasing a pile of cash is more difficult than it seems.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. found that out when he went looking for money in Japan. The deal, or so he thought, was to perform a three-round exhibition before what he said was a small group of wealthy spectators for “a very large fee.”
Turns out Mayweather got hoodwinked. And then he quickly got out of town.
He wanted no part of a rising young Japanese kickboxing star, even though he outweighed Tenshin Nasukawa by 30 pounds. A guy could get hurt in a real fight, especially if the rules weren’t all in his favor.
The problem was, Mayweather had appeared at a press conference Monday in Tokyo in which the fight was announced. He posed for pictures with Nasukawa, and talked about how their New Year’s Eve bout would be an epic event.
So he had to backpedal. And fast.
Mayweather said he was blindsided by promoters at the press conference and went along when they said the fight was scheduled, with the rules to be figured out later. He said he didn’t even know who Nasukawa was.
Fair enough. But Google is available in Japan, and it didn’t take Mayweather long to find out a few things about his opponent.
Or maybe he just read an Instagram post from Joe Rogan, the UFC fight announcer who knew a little more about Nasukawa.
“He’s a true striking genius,” Rogan said of the 20-year-old. “I doubt Floyd is going to agree to any rules that allow Tenshin to kick, but if he does, it could be a terrible night for him. This kid is the truth.”
Whatever it was, Mayweather left Japan as fast as he could.
And, really, who could blame Mayweather. He’s made a career — and made himself immensely wealthy — out of picking just the right opponent at the right time and this wasn’t the opponent or the time to get back in the ring.
But in doing so he may have damaged his brand, if just a bit. Mayweather doesn’t do contrition well, but contrite he was in a lengthy post that didn’t exactly cast him in a favorable light.
“I am a retired boxer that earns an unprecedented amount of money, globally, for appearances, speaking engagements and occasional small exhibitions,” Mayweather wrote.
If that’s so, then perhaps Manny Pacquiao better go looking for another opponent for his next fight. Actually, Pacquiao already has, with plans to fight Adrien Broner in January.
Still there’s a good chance the two could meet in May in Las Vegas in a rematch of their first fight. By then they might have made enough boxing fans forget what a snoozer the first fight was to pay big money for a rematch between two 40-something boxers.
With Mayweather, it’s anyone’s guess. He already announced the Pacquiao fight for December, you might remember, though it will not happen then.
And now he claims he’s just an old retired boxer trying to make a little spending money by giving speeches and small exhibitions.
Who’s going to pay big money to see that?
It’s hard to argue with what Mayweather has done in a career more spectacular for the amount of money he’s made than the epic fights he’s been in. He turned himself into a marketing phenomenon beginning with his 2007 fight with Oscar De La Hoya, and has made more money than even he can count.
He also conned people into believing his fight with UFC fighter Conor McGregor was a legitimate match, before easily dispatching him in his last lucrative exhibition.
But the Mayweather brand is getting old, and so is his appeal. He’s reduced to being the “opponent” in fights like the one he was planning in Japan and even his sycophants have to be getting the idea by now that they’re being played.
A second fight with Pacquiao holds little intrigue after the dull affair the two put on in 2015. Like the proposed fight in Japan it’s strictly a money grab by the founder of The Money Team.
In the end, Mayweather couldn’t run fast enough from a young opponent in Japan.
We should all think about running if his next press conference is to announce a fight with Pacquiao.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg