LAS VEGAS — So, this is it for Floyd Mayweather Jr., or so they say.
Step up now because it’s your last chance to see Money May in the ring. Buy those ringside tickets or find 75 bucks somewhere that you didn’t spend on Ronda Rousey to watch Mayweather and Andre Berto dance about from the comfort of your own living room.
The fighter who has made himself insanely rich by conning people into paying to watch him on TV is at it again. The promise this time is that it’s his last time, or at least until Mayweather figures there are still enough rubes out there who will buy another one next spring.
It wasn’t enough to pocket $220 million for a fight against Manny Pacquiao that could never live up to the hype that preceded it. Mayweather has jets to fuel and cars to buy and, really, who couldn’t use another $30 million or so?
This could have been a fight on free TV, something of a payback for those who felt shortchanged for the $100 they paid to watch the snoozer against a surprisingly passive Pacquiao. This should have been a fight on free TV, but there’s a few extra million to be squeezed out on pay-per-view and once again greed got in the way.
At least those buying the Pacquiao fight had an excuse. They thought Pacquiao legitimately had a chance, ignoring the fact that his skills had deteriorated badly in the five years he had been chasing a fight with Mayweather.
There’s no pretending that Berto is much of a challenge. He has lost three of his last six fights, two of them to fighters that Mayweather easily beat. About the best thing anyone in the promotion can say about Berto is that he’s aggressive, and may actually try to hit Mayweather.
That was reflected at the Westgate LV sports book on Wednesday, where Mayweather was a staggering 40-1 favorite. Not one bet had been placed, even with the chance to reap a small fortune should Berto somehow find a way to win.
That’s all on Mayweather. He hand picks his opponents, and for this fight he passed over England’s Amir Khan and Keith Thurman, among others who might actually give him a fight. For a fighter who believes he is the best ever, it’s an odd and anti-climactic way to end a career, assuming that career is actually ending.
Still, there might be reasons to buy this pay-per-view. This is boxing, after all, a sport where the bizarre sometimes seems normal.
uMayweather forgets to tie the laces on his boxing shoes and trips while walking into the ring, hitting his head on Justin Bieber’s microphone. By the time he can think clearly again, Berto is celebrating a first-round knockout and wondering if Mayweather can make him a deal on a used Bugatti.
uMayweather’s usual pedicurist calls in sick the morning of the fight, and the replacement digs a bit too deeply into his big toe. Mayweather tries to stick and move, but is so hobbled that he can’t run at all. Berto wins a unanimous decision, then pops Bieber in the nose just for good measure.
uFed up with watching bad fights from the corner, Floyd Sr. urges his son to trade punches with Berto no matter what happens. “Forget what I said about people not knowing anything aboutboxing,” he tells him. “You need to give them a good show at least once.”
OK, so maybe there really isn’t a way for Berto to win. Maybe boxing fans should just treat this for what it is — a glorified exhibition that will make Mayweather even more millions while completing his six-fight deal with Showtime and making him a free agent should he decide — as most assume he will — to fight on at some point.
It will also put him in the conversation with Rocky Marciano, the heavyweight champion who retired at 49-0 in 1956. That’s something that matters to Mayweather, if only because he truly believes — and the sycophants around him keep telling him — that he’s the greatest fighter ever.
That’s preposterous on a number of levels, but let Mayweather believe what he wants. He’s earned that right, winning every one of his 48 fights since turning pro 19 years ago.
Boxing fans, though, have a few rights of their own. And on Sept. 12 they’d be wise to exercise them by resisting the urge to reach into their wallets to watch this stinker of a fight.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at email@example.com or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg