Floyd Mayweather is one of the greatest athletes of all time. I don’t see how there is any way to dispute that. In fact he may be the best boxer ever, even if he will never be as great in a broader sense than Ali or never have the famous wars against other legends the way Sugar Ray Leonard and others had.
Mayweather is the highest paid athlete in the world right now after earning a reported $32 million for his fight against Robert Guerrero this past weekend and he could make as much or more if he fights again in September as he says he will. Basically, his nickname of ‘Money’ Mayweather could not be more accurate, even if I was always partial to the Pretty Boy Floyd moniker he used in his younger days.
It is pretty amazing for a guy to step out of jail and make that sort of money for 36 minutes of work (obviously not counting all the work he put into training), but he is such a huge pay-per-view draw that even after serving jail time for assaulting his girlfriend, every fight fan in the world wanted to watch his fight.
In his 44th professional fight, Floyd Mayweather did what he did for the 43 that came before it… win, whilst barely getting hit. Mayweather is not a knock out artist, especially after multiple hand injuries made him have to adjust how he fights and he tends to win his fights nowadays by dominating the scorecards. He would certainly be the best defensive boxer ever, as he is so fast and elusive that it doesn’t matter how powerful his opponent is, you can’t knock out what you can’t catch.
After his master class against Guerrero this weekend, the only part of Mayweather that looked like it had been in a fight was his right hand, which was swollen and hurt from connecting so many times.
The problem is Mayweather is actually too good. Whilst we watch the fights to witness greatness in action, even if we know the result beforehand, it takes two to tango. When we watch Black Caviar race, we know she is going to win, because she is basically competing against herself. However with a sport like boxing, styles make fights and so does talent. Mayweather fights become boring after the first round or two because it becomes very obvious that the rest of the fight is going to play out like a training session for one and a nightmare for the other.
Mayweather has had some great opponents over the years. His fight with Oscar De La Hoya is what took him to that next level of greatness and he has also fought the likes of Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Ricky Hatton (at the end of his career), but none were on his level and once they stepped in the ring it became apparent quite early on that his opponent wasn’t quite at the level required.
People pay to see Mayweather’s greatness, but they also pay to this if his opponent is finally the one who can legitimately test him. So far the answer has been a resounding ‘no’.
Robert Guerrero is a very good boxer and certainly showed a lot of heart, but he was not a household name before the fight and the promoters tried to talk him up as a worthy opponent with a great record who deserved his opportunity to fight Mayweather. All that might be true, but Guerrero isn’t even at the level of some of the men Mayweather has already dispatched and many fans that bought the fight or attended the fight became quite upset when it became apparent yet again that this was not going to be much of a contest.
There was quite a lot of booing in the arena and dissent on the internet during and after the fight, not at Mayweather’s greatness or even at Guerrero’s efforts, but more just at the fact that they felt duped into believing the result might be in doubt.
This is why for so many years we all wanted to see Mayweather fight Manny Pacquiao. If Mayweather had defeated Manny (in his prime at least) the way he defeated everyone else, that would be an opponent at the level needed to take Mayweather’s case for greatest ever to the next level.
Ali had Liston, Frasier and Foreman. Leonard had Hagler and Duran. Mayweather, despite the best efforts of his opponents to date, has simply not had that transcendent fight, through no fault of his own. Manny Pacquiao was that opponent and for any number of reasons we never got to see it. It is too late now. Even if they one day get around to it, Manny Pacquiao is no longer Manny Pacquiao.
Mayweather is much richer financially every time he fights, but to me his legacy is about the same as it was a few fights ago. He remains undefeated and virtually untested and clearly the best boxer of my lifetime. He is probably in the discussion for greatest overall athlete of all time, but it also feels a little hollow not having that seminal memory or moment from a great contest to remember.
There are rumours he might fight ‘Canelo’ Alvarez next and that is definitely who he should fight. ‘Canelo’ is young but is an undefeated stud and has the potential to end up an all-time great himself. Hopefully that fight is a close battle where Mayweather is at least tested and could end up being the lasting memory of his career.
Mayweather might be a victim of his era, or he might be a victim of his own ability or success. Then again, when you look at his bank account, he isn’t really a victim at all.