While Floyd Mayweather repaired his legacy on comeback, Usain Bolt might wish he called time earlier
American boxer’s return to knock out Conor McGregor a fitting finale, whereas Jamaican sprint legend fluffed his lines on swansong
Floyd Mayweather Jnr said he owed boxing fans one last big fight after the snoozer he put on with Manny Pacquiao in the supposed “Fight of the Century”.
“I think we gave the fans what they wanted to see,” Mayweather said after getting a 10th-round technical knockout against Conor McGregor in last weekend’s much-hyped Las Vegas bout.
While the American’s convictions for domestic violence against his former partners cannot be excused or forgotten, he went some way to repairing his sporting legacy before hanging up his boxing gloves for the second time.
The unanimous decision win against Pacquiao, followed by an equally tedious points victory against Andre Berto in 2015, was not a fitting way for a boxer calling himself “The Best Ever” to go out.
Nearly two years after first retiring, Mayweather broke Rocky Marciano’s longstanding unbeaten record to go 50-0 in a fight that looks set to break pay-per-view buy-rate records – despite some customers experiencing technical issues with US broadcaster Showtime.
“You won’t see me in the ring no more,” he said following his win at T-Mobile Arena. “Any guy that’s calling me out, forget it.”
While many dismissed the fight as a freak show and a circus act, there was no other opponent in the world who could have generated the same interest in one last Mayweather fight.
“I chose the right partner to dance with,” the 40-year-old said of McGregor.
“Money” Mayweather’s cut will be in the hundreds of millions. Not bad for 28 minutes of boxing, with the duo pulling off the score of the century.
“I did walk away from this sport before,” he said. “I didn’t have to come back. All of us do foolish things. But I’m not a damn fool. If I see an opportunity to make US$300-US$350 million in 36 minutes, why not?”
But more important than the cash, Mayweather can ride into the sunset as a rare example of an elite sportsperson who went out on a perfect note.
It puts Usain Bolt’s disappointing farewell just a few weeks prior into perspective.
The Jamaican sprint legend wanted to bring the curtain down on his illustrious career at the scene of his greatest triumph when he lined up for one final event at the Olympic Stadium in London.
It was at the London 2012 Games where Bolt defended his 100 metres, 200m and 4x100m relay titles to solidify his name in athletics history.
The 30-year-old eyed a final swansong at the athletics world championships but could only finish third in the 100m final, losing out to pantomime villain Justin Gatlin, who has twice been suspended for doping.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Bolt then tore his hamstring on the anchor leg of the 4x100m final, tumbling in agony and burying his face in the track.
In Cool Runnings style, Bolt limped his way over the finish line with his Jamaican teammates as the crowd cheered in recognition of his amazing career.
Bolt must have wished he walked away while he was still on top, after defending his Olympic titles for the second time at the Rio Games last summer.
Sure, the ninth gold medal of his “Triple Triple” was later taken away when his relay teammate Nesta Carter was found guilty of doping in Rio earlier this year.
However, optics are an increasingly prevalent part of sports in the age of social media and now the final image of Bolt’s illustrious career will not be him standing atop an Olympic podium one last time, but somersaulting onto his backside.
The last sporting shots of Mayweather, on the other hand, are of him rocking McGregor and standing tall on the turnbuckles of the boxing ring.
“No regrets. I came out and did my best – win, lose or draw I was always going to walk away,” Bolt said after that 100m final defeat to Gatlin in London.
Mayweather took a risk by coming out of retirement to rewrite his legacy and pulled off a masterstroke.
Maybe Bolt will find the desire to come back and train for one more race in hopes of a more fitting finale.