Did Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s Victory Over Ricky Hatton Cement His Place Amongst The Sports All-Time Elite?

floyd mayweatherBy Vivek Wallace: Cocky. Arrogant. Flashy. Outspoken. Call him whatever you like, but rather than adding to the growing list of individual adjectives, Saturday night's performance led me to put together three collective words of my own....Very damn good! It was the only unedited retort I could muster when all was said and done.

Floyd's performance against Ricky Hatton went a long way in helping him earn the respect of fight fans who viewed him as a defense first fighter, and if indeed we've seen the last of the man who refers to himself as 'Money', perhaps an even greater distance in adding him to the equation of all-time greats..

To examine Floyd's relativity among the sports all-time elite, we take a look at both sides of the argument, beginning with the view of those against.

ANTI-FLOYD ARGUMENT: Perhaps the most compelling and certainly the most heavily articulated argument in opposition of Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s position amongst the all-time greats is the fact that if we have seen the last of him, he'd be walking away from the sport at arguably it's deepest point ever.

Aptly dubbed the "Battalion of Young Stallions", boxings welterweight division shares the very uncommon trait of not only offering depth, but various echelons of it. Starting with the Tier-1 group, which is the penthouse residential suite reserved for rising Puerto Rican sensation, Miguel Cotto (31-0, 25KO's). In a not so proven, yet very talented Tier-2 group is the freakish Paul Williams (33-0, 24KO's), who's physical attributes make him potentially the most difficult opponent for any of the current welters. Aside from Williams, you have the forever raging Antonio Margarito (35-5, 25KO's), and Kermit Cintron (29-1, 27KO's). Sitting on the cusp of the Tier-2 level would be the man most view as a potential welterweight king of tomorrow, the incredibly talented, yet vastly unexperienced Andre Berto (20-0, 17KO's).

With each of these men coming into their own, skeptics openly question the possible departure of Mayweather and point to the fact that the timing is more than questionable in and of itself. This argument is supported by the fact that some of the talent Mayweather faced had seen better days, and that his victories over them weren't as stellar as they'd expect from a mythical 'pound for pound' champ. There are many other arguments to tack on to this list, but for the sake of minimizing the rhetoric, we've briefly analyzed the most popular view.

PRO-FLOYD ARGUMENT: Those who support the efforts of Mayweather as being sufficient enough to put him in this class have very solid references that sit in the 'ready' position to be dispatched in this very popular dialogue. When you take a look at the accomplishments of the fighters that he would be in company with - the Ali's, the Marciano's, the Ray Robinson's, the Henry Armstrong's, etc - it should be noted that what Mayweather Jr. has accomplished in the ring is something that none of these men have.

If you want to view things from a historical perspective, it's hard to compare, for the simple fact that today's fighter is nowhere near as active, thus the records are vastly different, as well as the opposition. To equalize that perspective, consider Floyd Mayweather Jr. having to fight Oscar Dela Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, and Paul Williams in the same calendar year. That type of frequency with that type of competition would be totally impossible for any fighter to overcome, which brings to life the realization that the level of competition in those days lacked the same depth. Surely there were comparable fighters to the greats of yesterday, but in an era of legal - and illegal - performance enhancing substances, as well as vastly improved athletic technology, today's athletes could not be viewed the same.

If you would like to view things from a modern era perspective, In Floyd Mayweather Jr., you have a fighter who has not only conquered 6 World Champions in 5 weight divisions, but few openly acknowledge the fact that he did it in only a 10 year time frame. Others have accomplished this, but none while remaining undefeated. One other thing you have to throw into the modern era perspective is that in a time where only the 'dollars' make sense, Saturday nights pay-per-view event will make Floyd Mayweather Jr. the first boxer to ever amass more than 1 Million pay-per-viewers in back to back fights. This is a record that not even the menacing "Iron" Mike Tyson, or female fan conquerer, Oscar Dela Hoya were able to accomplish. It's very hard to discount these statistics when you couple them with the fact that Mayweather did all you could ask of any fighter in any era. That being defeat the competition on any given night which stood across from him.

THIS WRITERS HUMBLE OPINION: To say that Floyd needs to stick around to face the current crop of contenders is wishful thinking because now that we know he can brawl and switch to the inside fighting game as well as play the cautious defender, there really are no questions remaining about his skill level. To see him execute the way he did in what was a very foreign atmosphere - equipped with man made bands in a very college football game type atmosphere - I think told me all I needed to know about the mental makeup of Mr. Mayweather.

A brilliant tactician, cat-like reflexes, killer instincts when necessary, and unrivaled ring discipline makes him - to me personally - a fighter that could find reasonable success in any era. Fight fans must remember that Floyd is a natural lightweight who moved up to chase dollars and legacy. He was successful enough to take his adventures all the way to the light middleweight ranks, but that was a preference, not a necessity. If he does indeed walk away from the sport at this time or at a later point and remain undefeated, there is no effective argument that keeps him out of this company.

I'm sure to some it must suck to know that a guy who talks as much as Mayweather jr. does holds the proverbial "I TOLD YOU SO" wildcard in his back pocket, but at this point, he does, and ain't a damn thing anyone can say about it. Each of those fighters who you may want to place before him has a loss - with the exception of Marciano. With or without one, Floyd has surely done enough to be mentioned. Where he stands among those greats can be debated, but whether or not he should be mentioned leaves nothing to discuss. 20 years from now, mos def, you will see the name Floyd Joy Mayweather Jr. in the mix. After Saturday night, the visibility of his legacy 'print' went from lead pencil to black ink, and the doubts or questions of his harshest critics could never erase that. I don't know. That's just my opinion. In time, I'm sure I'll hear yours too.

So to help this commencement, with no further ado.....Let the great debate begin!

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Article posted on 10.12.2007

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