Floyd Joy Mayweather Jr: We are lucky to have him

Posted: May 3, 2012 in George Ogier
Tags: , ,

It’s not a black thing, it’s not a white thing. It’s a green thing.”

– The gospel according to Floyd “Money” Mayweather

On May 5th Floyd Mayweather will face Miguel Cotto for the WBA Super World light middleweight title. Mayweather is a man who divides opinion among fans. In criticising Floyd’s lifestyle are we too quick to dismiss the talents of a truly brilliant boxer?

Many find Mayweather’s obsession with money vulgar and feel it reflects badly on the sport. Others are more forgiving, thanking their lucky stars that we live in an age where such a talented fighter is still operating. Either way, everyone has an opinion on Floyd, in and out of the ring.

Whilst there can be no doubt that this is an era defined in part by Floyd Mayweather it is also an era in which boxing is becoming a niche sport. Despite the rise of Tyson Fury on Channel 5 we have also seen Sky Sports unceremoniously dump Hatton Promotions from their boxing coverage. Ask an average sports fan what they know about Mayweather. The response is likely to include the lack of a fight with Manny Pacquiao or Floyd’s upcoming stint in prison.

Sadly, both topics represent a large slice of Mayweather’s public persona. However, this state of affairs is entirely justified. The Pacquiao issue has been raging for years and looks no nearer to being resolved in the ring. The prison case is far more serious. On June 1st Mayweather will begin a 90 day sentence at Clark County Jail. Floyd entered a guilty plea to charges of Battery Domestic Violence against the mother of his children.

It is virtually impossible to put both concerns aside, even in a sporting context. Many see Mayweather’s legacy as tarnished for not fighting Pacquiao. The court case and subsequent sentence was even moved around to allow for the bout to take place. Beyond these yardsticks by which we judge Floyd though, can people really focus on the boxer alone?

It seems fitting that a man with the middle name of Joy should bring so much pleasure to so many fans. Everyone wants to see “Money” fight. You may have different reasons for doing so but it is hard to take your eyes off him in the ring.

I have watched boxing regularly for more than 20 years. In that time I do not think there has been more naturally talented fighter than Floyd Mayweather. The nature of sports debate means plenty would disagree but Floyd’s ring craft is utterly phenomenal.

Mayweather was an Olympic bronze medallist in Atlanta ’96. He has used that amateur pedigree has a springboard to a stellar paid career. A world champion in his eighteenth professional fight, Floyd has claimed titles at four other weights besides.

A popular line is that Floyd has no chin, “catch him and you’ll knock him out”. Plenty of people have hit Floyd very hard and yet he only has one knock down on his record. The moment in question didn’t even come as a result of Mayweather getting hit. Floyd damaged his hand throwing a left hook against Carlos Hernandez and touched down, overcome by the pain.

That’s forty-two fights and forty-two victories. Along the way Mayweather has beaten, among others Oscar De la Hoya, Jose Luis Castillo, Diego Corrales, Arturo Gatti and Ricky Hatton. Floyd has risen from super featherweight to light middleweight and still people are queueing up to claim he’s not that good.

There are those that accept Floyd’s talent but maintain that without a Pacquiao fight his legacy will be forever damaged. This may be true but listening to Mayweather’s reasoning as to why it hasn’t happened is enlightening. On his claim that Pacquiao has been using performance enhancing drugs, “I’m going up in weight but I’m not just walking through no damn fighters. This mother****** was 106lbs and he’s just walking through Cotto. Cotto can’t knock down Mosley but he can? Come on man?”

If Mayweather truly believes that Manny Pacquiao is using PEDs then his reticence to face the Filipino is understandable. This isn’t athletics where drug use means a better solo performance. This is a sport where one man’s capacity to damage another might be increased by 30%. There is a health issue for both men involved, not just the drug user.

I am not for one minute suggesting that Manny Pacquiao has cheated with the assistance of PEDs. However, if there is a grain of doubt in Mayweather’s mind, not fighting Pacquiao is justifiable.

Boxing history is littered with fights that never happened. It is incredibly frustrating that Mayweather and Pacquiao seem destined to forever circle each other beyond the ring. Look past the Pacquiao issue though and we are left with an outrageously gifted boxer in Floyd Mayweather. He has defeated a long list of future hall of fame inductees and he has looked superb in doing it.

Floyd isn’t the first professional sportsman to have an extravagant life and an unashamed love of the dollar. He most definitely won’t be the last. On May 5th, whatever your thoughts on Mayweather the man, just take a second to appreciate Mayweather the boxer.

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Comments
  1. Paddy says:

    I suspect that time will change perspectve. Jack Johnsoon is now seen as one of history’s greats – particularly for his defensive capabilities. At the time, the perception of johnson was clouded by bigotry and his own choice to live his life to the full, in contravention of the then contemporary norm. Sound familiar?

    “Money” is a great fighter, but I’ve always found it hard to warm to him on a personal level. This is one of boxing’s great challenges. Such an individual sport demands great fighters to also have a level of charisma that will drive us to watch them and care about the outcome. Mere technical superiority is not enough to put bumbs on seats.

    A boxer’s job is to monnetise both technical and athletic ability and their personality. I feel that Mayweather has been most successful with the former. Historical examples that have managed to do both might include Ray Leonard and Ali on the global scale. On a more parochial level, I think the great british middleweights of the 90s managed to do the same.

    • georgeogier says:

      Boxing is a strange sport in that fans seem to be able to separate their personal views when it comes to supporting a fighter. Look at Carlos Monzon’s behaviour outside the ring and look how he’s revered. It comes down to styles. People love brawlers but slick defensive fighters never get 100% respect. Andre Ward will find this out as his career progresses.

  2. @Speedz1971 says:

    Yes Floyd is immensely talented, yes Floyd is unbeaten – but I have said this a million times and I will say it again – Since Mayweather was manhandled by Castillo, he has handpicked his foes and avoided the greatest/biggest challenges available to him at any given time.

    *He has decided to fight Cotto 5 or 6 years too late because Cotto is still a name but damaged goods.
    *He fought Hatton at 147 because he was not as effective as he was at 140.
    *Claiming not to be interested in titles – he fought Baldimer when tougher challenges were available.

    Mayweather is the “Emperors New Clothes”. He will be saying “I told you so!” When he beats Cotto – but what he beats will be the shell of a once great fighter.

    The young Mayweather at 130lbs was a true fighter, taking on all challengers. At 135+ he’s a Fraud – a very talented one at that. If the Pacquio fight happens now, Floyd wins because Pacquio has taken tougher fights, pushed his body and is on the slide – Floyd was waiting for that, like Leonard waited for Hagler to slip.

    Floyd has allowed all the top guys to fight each and ruin each other while he preserves himself. He is now feasting on their scraps – last man standing like King in the 24 man Royal Rumble – he hides and waits until everyone has been thrown out by the Undertaker and then jumps on the Undertaker who has nothing left!

    • georgeogier says:

      I’m not sure Cotto’s as shot as you think but I understand your other points. Mayweather would have still beaten Hatton at 140 and quite comfortably IMO. There are many criticisms that can be levelled at Mayweather but even allowing for those it is still a real pleasure to watch him fight. To my mind he’s earned the right to pick and choose his opponents.

  3. Good article as always George. Many of your comments are spot on, but Mayweather – like any other great boxer through history – has his fair share of detractors and, in my view, many of the criticisms levelled against him are valid…

    I don’t think Floyd (or any sportsman) should have the ‘right’ to pick and choose opponents. If you want to be a champion and recognised as the best (and Floyd constantly claims he is the the best, not just of the present, but of all time!) then you have to fight the toughest challengers. If you want to be the best, you have to earn it. In the old days of one champion per division, no champion earned the right to pick and choose – you either fought the best or lost the belt. Floyd has earned the right to retire and enjoy his wealth, but whilst he still fights and makes claims of greatness, he has to live up to them.

    Floyd is a fantiscally gifted boxer whose skills are to be admired, but he has wasted the last 4 years fighting faded or overmatched opponents. I agree with you though that Cotto is not as ‘gone’ as people seem to think – I happen to believe he is the best Floyd has faced since un-retiring (although Floyd will still win). Floyds record and legacy – rightly or wrongly – will forever be tainted by not fighting Pacquiao whilst both were at there peak; a real shame because Floyd deserves (on talent alone) to be rated as an all time great.

    Keep up the good work – maybe we will cath up in London for a beer some time.

    Martin (the Boxing Brain)

    P.S. would still love that Seinfield article for One More Round when you get a chance!

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