Floyd Mayweather Jr: Giving Credit when Credit is Due

10.12.07 - By Anthony Coleman: If you’ve ever read any of my past articles you’ll know that I’ve been one of Floyd Mayweather’s harshest critics. Wait a second, that is an understatement. The truth is that my distaste for him almost bordered on condemnation. I, along with many in the boxing community, had felt that Mayweather had intentionally ducked difficult competition since his two razor close wins over Jose Luis Castillo..

ricky hatton Mayweather’s thin skin fans will hate hear this, but wins over Philip Ndou, Demarcus Corley, Arturo Gatti, Henry Brusseles, and Sharmba Mitchell isn’t the record of a boxer who many feel should be listed among the Sugar Robinson/ Henry Armstrong realm of greatness no matter how talented he may be. Add to the fact that since moving up to Welterweight, Mayweather was far from impressive. He KO’d a shot Sharmba Mitchell, and looked lackluster in defeating Zab Judah. Plus if there ever was a person who took the path of least resistance in a shutout performance, it would have been Mayweather the night he defeated Carlos Baldomir for the Welterweight title. It was as about as unimpressive a dominant performance I’ve seen from a great fighter.

Truthfully, though the lack of quality wins over quality competition and underwhelming performance was just part of my dislike towards him. Mayweather rubbed me, and so many, the wrong way by acting like a douche-bag. His petulant behavior towards his opponents and ranting about the media not entitling him the label of “all-time great,” was at best childish and at worst disgusting. In short, I had a lot of reasons both objective and sadly objective in which I could easily criticize Mayweather.

Yet Saturday night at the MGM Grand Mayweather’s TKO over Ricky Hatton silenced me. Despite his attempts to damage his career and reputation, he proved that when challenged he is as damn good as he always said he was. He not only won the fight, but after a few difficult moments he adjusted and dominated Hatton. In my opinion it was one of his best performances.

Going into the super-fight, I gave Hatton a much better chance of winning a decision than most of the media gave him. I thought that his pressure fighting style, hardhead, and bodypunching was going to give Mayweather fits and make the fight close while going into the scorecards. Yet it didn’t happen. Except for two or three rounds if you’re generous, Mayweather was the superior boxer. He was thrown off by Hatton’s style for a moment, but he was able to time Hatton with counter punches, rolled and slipped Hatton’s power shots, and in the later rounds Mayweather became aggressive and started taking risks that he hadn’t taken in years.

There were two elements of the fight that surprised me. The first being Mayweather digging through the attic and finding the combination punching he seemingly tucked away after the Gatti fight. Since moving up to 147, Mayweather stopped slinging those amazing four and five punch combinations he would usually put together when he was in the lower weight classes. Instead of potshotting and then running away, Mayweather stood his ground and absolutely punished Hatton. Considering the caliber of opponent, it may have been Mayweather’s best offensive performance since the Jesus Chavez fight.

The second element that I was shocked about was his ability to KO Hatton in brutal fashion. Did you notice anything while reading the previous sentences? I wrote that the fight was going to go to the scorecards. Honestly, I gave Mayweather absolutely no shot of KOing Hatton. None whatsoever. The only way I could see a Mayweather stoppage victory were by cuts. At Welterweight I didn’t think Mayweather no longer had the power to gain Hatton’s respect, nor drop him on his ass. Two and a half years earlier, Hatton would get hit square in his head by Kostya Tszyu, who happens to be one of the best punchers who ever lived, and didn’t flinch one bit. It didn’t stop him from coming forward and brutalizing Tszyu and ripping his title from his waist. I’m willing to bet, right now, Tszyu can come off the street in casual clothes, out of shape smoking a cigarette and holding a doughnut in the other hand and go to a gym and still knockout some young prospect. The possibility of Mayweather separating Hatton from his senses seemed like delusional thinking from his crazy fans. Yet that is exactly what happened.

In the tenth round Mayweather would catch Hatton lunging in with a perfect left hook that sent the still forward moving Manchester native slamming into the turnbuckle. Hatton fell to the ground, hurt. More than hurt: he was seeing stars in his head. Cortez should have stopped the fight at that moment. Yet adding another black mark in his questionable officiating night, Cortez allowed the fight to continue and Mayweather teed off on him until Cortez finally said to himself, “umm, maybe I should not have allowed this British kid to get his brains knocked in,” and finally waived the fight off as Hatton was beginning another descent into the canvas. Mayweather had used accumulation to takeout Hatton, but it still doesn’t change the fact that he did something that Tszyu never came close to doing. The man many consider to be the pound-for-pound number 1 couldn’t have dreamed fro a better conclusion to this fight.

Yet there are still those who are going to criticize Floyd even in victory. They’ll point out that Hatton was brought back up in weight after going life and death with a decent Welterweight contender in Luis Collazo. They’ll point out how Mayweather has yet to defend his title against any of the significant threats in the division and that his win proved that Hatton wasn’t a natural 147-pounder.

I disagree.

Mayweather is every bit the unnatural Welterweight as Hatton is, and I honestly thought that this fight would be a close contest and I gave Manchester’s Finest a real chance of springing the upset. Yet Floyd took out, who I thought, was a formidable foe and I need to give him my respect. I’m not going to back track and say that Hatton was a nobody. Something needs to be said about giving credit when credit is due, even if the person you’re giving props to could be a jerk. Mayweather still has personality problems, but he proved once again that he was one of the very best practitioners of this great sport and if I didn’t praise him after this performance then I’d be a hater.

Now the only question left for him is what is his next move? Right now the biggest fight in the sport, without a shadow of a doubt, would be a showdown between Mayweather and his top challenger: WBA champ Miguel Cotto. The fight would be a huge event for boxing fans and casual sports fans and it would be up there with Leonard-Hearns I and Trinidad-De La Hoya as one of the biggest prize fights in the history of the 147-pound division. And with Hatton vanquished, Mayweather may actually be interested in the fight seeing that he would make at least 10 million bucks on the contest. If I were Ross Greenburg, I would get Cotto, Bob Arum, and Mayweather in the HBO office together and workout a deal for a spring or summer showdown ASAP.

Or the other option is Mayweather retiring. If he’d didn’t fight again, Mayweather would almost certainly be inducted into the Hall-of-Fame on the first ballot. However, that would be a shame because he could actually make a run into all-time greatness if he’d stay around. If he were to fight and defeat Cotto, Cintron, Williams and Margarito then he’d make a case as being one of the top-welterweights in the recent memory. As it stands he already is one of the best 130-pounders of all-time, but with a more consistent list of quality opponents he could actually be mentioned in the same breath with a Sugar Ray Leonard of Pernell Whitaker.

Anyway, it really doesn’t matter because he can take solace in the fact that he proved once again that he is a truly great talent, and his harshest critics are impressed by his performance. A year ago I thought it was crazy that he was mentioned as the consensus pound-for-pound number 1, but today, I think he is the best fighter in the sport.

Article posted on 11.12.2007

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