Floyd Mayweather has a split lip and injured hands. I know because I saw them.
He sparred through the surely excruciating pain of superficial skin marks on his knuckles, then had to cope with the sting of the ointment. Boxing is, after all, the “hurt business.”
He sparred with the split lip, then when the session ended, he walked to one of the large mirrors in his boxing gym, peeled down the lip to inspect it more closely, went and hit the heavy bag for a few minutes, then ordered another sparring partner back into the ring for a second session, presumably to split the lip even more. Oh, the self-loathing he must feel.
These were the injuries that lit up the Internet last week, just like Manny Pacquiao’s calves a couple weeks earlier, or Mayweather winning a sparring session from Zab Judah the week before that, because everything to do with the May 2 Mayweather-Pacquiao fight is outsized and overblown.
That goes for the amount of money the fighters will reap from never-before-seen price levels for live tickets and pay-per-view, the amount of interest in the fight from people who wouldn’t know a welterweight from a flyweight without a search engine, the frequency and type of drug testing each undergoes, and any little nick either fighter is working through in training camp.
Bulletin: Older fighters cope with injuries all the time. Mayweather is 38. Pacquiao is 36. It would be a surprise if they didn’t have some aches and pains.
And it would be an excuse if anyone said a split lip or cramping calves in early April had any effect on a fight scheduled in early May.
The rumors about Mayweather’s hand injuries always have an ominous tone because he has a history of them. In one 2001 title fight, as a 130-pounder, both of Mayweather’s hands gave out in the same fight, against Carlos Hernandez, and he spent the championship rounds dancing a lot and punching little. It isn’t easy to win a championship fight that way but he did it, and if you care to see a most unique type of ring dominance by a great fighter, watch Mayweather-Hernandez online sometime.
So let me confirm that Mayweather indeed has been coping with hand injuries. He has some skin marks on his knuckles. They require antiseptic. He even sometimes blows on them to relieve the stinging after the medication is applied, lest anyone think it impossible to hurt boxing’s pound-for-pound king.
This is important stuff for you to know with only 20 days remaining until what undoubtedly will be the richest event in boxing history.
Mayweather still wears a flak jacket in sparring sometimes, by the way. He suffered some rib bruising before his 2009 comeback fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, which had to be postponed once because of the injury, so he will wear the rib protection to prevent against any recurrence. That doesn’t equate to a rib problem, however.
Nothing is structurally wrong with Mayweather’s hands. Nothing about his split lip will alter his sparring schedule to any meaningful extent.
Pacquiao applies expensive salve to his calves to alleviate cramping. And he works through it.
And the beat goes on.
I have seen several sparring situations in which an injury had a direct impact on how a fight was contested, or even outright postponement or cancellation. In every instance, it was a single-incident injury — a cut, a broken hand, a fractured jaw, a dental injury — which prompted an immediate recoil by the injured party.
As to Mayweather-Pacquiao, when it comes to the injuries that seem to concern so many, including many otherwise unconcerned about boxing, there’s nothing to see here until three weekends from now, when they try to inflict injury upon each other.
It won’t get dismissed that easily because of the over-the-top hand-wringing about this fight, from financial splits, to drug-testing methodology, to promoting rights, to television rights. A whole new round of hand-wringing is coming when officials are announced, presumably at the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s April 21 meeting.
It all gets sorted in 12 rounds or less at MGM Grand, when the little aches and pains of training camp subside and adrenaline and ability reign. Any other rationalization is just an excuse.
If one of the fighters hurts a little bit in his old age, remember, they both had five years to make this fight when they were younger.