Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather turned a long-held rumor into reality on Tuesday by announcing that his September 12 return on pay-per-view will come against former titlist Andre Berto.
But the announcement of the fight wasn’t just a disappointment for fans due to Berto’s 3-3 record since 2010; consider the more deserving candidates who were passed over, including unbeaten titlist Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and Amir Khan.
With rumors of Mayweather-Berto swirling in recent days, Thurman sounded off on Mayweather last Saturday during a media roundtable in Brooklyn, New York, before the start of Danny Garcia’s victory over Paulie Malignaggi at the Barclays Center.
“I’m the realest fighter you guys are going to see in a really long time because I’m not afraid to talk about boxing as the way it really is,” Thurman said. “There are beautiful things about the sport of boxing and there are ugly things.”
Thurman was visibly upset about comments made days before his July 11 stoppage of former titlist Luis Collazo by Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe, who said Thurman was “not on Floyd’s level” and that he was off the list of potential candidates.
"Let's watch 'Money' spend his money on a Rolls Royce and a Bentley. Let's watch 'Money' go to a strip club. Let's watch 'Money' go around with a bag of money and go buy some shoes. Whatever he wants to do America is going to watch, it's called the 'Money Show.'"Keith Thurman
“I’ve come to many conclusions watching Floyd the past three years and especially dissecting their comment that Ellerbe [said],” Thurman said. “What I’ve come to acknowledge is that Floyd Mayweather is in a very special position in his career where he has more power than anyone else in the sport of boxing.
“He understands that and he uses that power to the best of his ability.”
Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs) believes Mayweather has used his power to force America to watch what he calls “The Money Show.”
“Let’s watch ‘Money’ spend his money on a Rolls Royce and a Bentley,” Thurman said. “Let’s watch ‘Money’ go to a strip club. Let’s watch ‘Money’ go around with a bag of money and go buy some shoes. Whatever he wants to do, America is going to watch; it’s called the ‘Money Show.’
“So right now at the end of his career he’s making more money than anyone thought was possible in the world of boxing. And to me that is his goal, that’s why he nicknamed himself ‘Money.’ He’s focused on the money and he wants to make history -- not in the way I want to make history -- but he wants to make history on numbers and numbers alone. So once again, enjoy ‘The Money Show.’ I wouldn’t pay for the next fight but that’s on you.”
Thurman admits he has mixed views on Berto getting the fight because the two are friends and share a mutual respect. He credits Berto with shaping a portion of his talent and skills after sparring with him as a teenager in Florida and will be cheering for him.
As for the reason Mayweather passed him over, Thurman believes it comes back to power.
“Why does the king chop off people’s heads?” Thurman said. “Because he can.”
According to Thurman, Mayweather yields so much financial power that the networks are unwilling to force him into taking on tougher matchups.
“He has so much power, the networks don’t have the gusto,” Thurman said. “They love the revenue, they love the money he brings in. So everyone says, ‘Yes sir, Mayweather sir. We love you sir.’ They accommodate Floyd and as long as they are going to do that.”
Thurman, who won the WBA’s interim belt in 2013 by defeating Diego Chaves, also called out the very same sanctioning body for elevating Mayweather to super champion shortly after he defeated Marcos Maidana in May 2014 for the WBA’s full title. Thurman believes the move was to “accommodate” Mayweather.
“Everybody knows the day I beat Diego Chaves, I became the WBA interim world titlist, which made me the No. 1 contender for whomever was the WBA titlist,” Thurman said. “[It] went from Paulie Malignaggi to Adrien Broner to Marcos Maidana to Floyd Mayweather. Four to six months go by and they anoint him to super and give me the regular so that he never had to hear the words, ‘Are you going to fight your mandatory contender, Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman?’”
Mayweather also annoyed Thurman by publicly suggesting he should face Errol Spence Jr., following the unbeaten welterweight prospect’s June 20 victory over Phil Lo Greco.
“That’s complete talk. [Mayweather] threw it in the mix so we could stop talking about Keith Thurman vs. Floyd Mayweather,” Thurman said. “It’s called trying to get the monkey off his back. But it’s more like a gorilla with these hands.”
Spence also called out Thurman after the fight, which didn’t seem genuine from Thurman’s perspective.
“With all of the welterweights Errol Spence can call out, he wants to call out Keith Thurman?” Thurman said. “Floyd Mayweather told him to do it. ‘Yes, no problem. I’ll do what you ask.’ Whenever that boy deserves an actual title shot against a real champion, I’ll be there and I’ll be willing to give him that chance.”
In regards to his future, Thurman is looking forward to a phone call with adviser Al Haymon -- who also represents many of the top welterweights including Mayweather, Berto and Spence -- in hopes of landing a big fight.
“As a fighter I hold a certain level of pride and can only deal so much with the politics,” Thurman said. “So I would like to make something that’s meaningful on my behalf and for the fans as well before this year ends.
“I think the [Robert] Guerrero fight was a great opener this year. The Collazo fight was a so-so-fight. So I want to end with a great ender. Possibly Amir Khan. Possibly Kell Brook. Shawn Porter just won a fight. So there’s a lot of options.”