Floyd Mayweather: Legacy Or Money?

floyd mayweather jr.By Matt Yanofsky: Following his impressive tenth round stoppage over previously undefeated Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, Floyd Mayweather once again told the boxing world of his plans to retire. Mayweather claimed he would take at least two years off and would only return after that if there is a huge money fight. Unless Floyd is once again pulling one over our eyes (like he did with his brief retirement after his victory over Oscar De La Hoya), he is making a big mistake.

Boxing lifer and former world title challenger John “Iceman” Scully offered up his opinion on Mayweather’s situation. “One thing that needs to be understood is that there is so much money involved with big fights involving a guy like Mayweather. It often isn't as simple as to where he could just say, "OK, I want to fight so and so" and that's it because there are people who have money and time invested as well and they have a say, too”, claimed Scully.

“Back when I was an amateur, I trained with Sugar Ray Leonard before he fought Donny Lalonde, and I learned a lot. On my own I learned that at a certain level, when you've reached a certain position and level, it is sometimes a thing where you seriously have to weight the risk versus the reward factor."

“In regards to his fight with Tommy Hearns back in 1981, he said that he knew he could have fought Tommy earlier than he did. They could have fought in 1980 and it would have still been a very viable fight but he knew for a fight with potential like that, he had to wait "until grandmothers came to him on the street and asked him when he was going to fight Tommy Hearns," When that scenario started happening he knew it was time to get the maximum out of the fight in terms of both exposure and money. So basically, at the level of a Floyd Mayweather is at, despite what many say to the contrary, I for one don't believe fear of any man comes into the equation when he makes moves in regard to his career now. Its business all the way”, claims the always colorful Scully.

This is an interesting view point from a man I have the world of respect for, but it is like comparing apples to oranges. Sugar Ray Leonard fought everyone out there and Mayweather has not even come close. Leonard’s list of opponents includes legends, Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, Wilfred Benitez, and Hector Camacho among others. The only “all time legends” Mayweather has faced are Oscar De La Hoya and the late Diego Corrales.

In addition to unifying his titles at welterweight and attempting to at super middleweight (fighting to a draw with Thomas Hearns), Leonard’s victory over the then unbeatable Hagler is far and above anything Mayweather has accomplished. Aside from never unifying his titles, Mayweather defeated an old Oscar De La Hoya, a weight drained Corrales, and a Ricky Hatton who showed he did not belong at welterweight by previously struggling to a controversial decision victory over B level champion Luis Collazo.

Even as the undisputed number one pound for pound fighter and one of the best over the last 25 years, Mayweather has a lot left to prove. The self proclaimed “greatest of all time” is the linear champion of the best division in the sport. There are still many names left to tangle with. Miguel Cotto, the WBA champion is the biggest fight out there and Floyd somewhat avoided the idea of fighting Cotto in the near future. Mayweather would make a substantial amount of money in that fight and there is a good chance he would beat Cotto similarly to the way he did Hatton. A win, which would make him a unified champion and once again put him victorious over a previously undefeated fighter, would only further secure his excellent career.

The problem may be that “Money Mayweather’s” head has grown too big for his own good. If he really cared about his legacy, he would realize that he may never again make as much money as he did against De La Hoya and Hatton and accept it. Mayweather will undoubtedly realize that he can earn a substantial amount of money against anyone.

Aside from Cotto, Floyd needs to prove to the world that he can defeat “risky” fighters in the welterweight division. An example of this is Joshua Clottey, who is not the most well known to the general fans, but boxing pundits know will give a tough fight to anyone. WBO champion Paul Williams who has a growing popularity after dethroning a man Floyd Mayweather dodged by the name of Antonio Margarito would also have a good chance of beating him.

Mayweather will claim “nobody knows Paul Williams and he hasn’t beaten anyone besides Margarito” but deep down inside this may not be the reason he won’t fight him. In reality, Mayweather has never faced a fighter like Williams who aside from being a volume punching southpaw, has a 5 inch height and 10 inch reach advantage. This undoubtedly gives him the best chance among anyone of beating Mayweather.

These fights may never happen because opponents such as Williams and Clottey might be deemed as “bringing nothing to the table” but top fighters did not always have the attitude of Mayweather. In the 1980’s Marvin Hagler was the best fighter in the universe, having defeated the legends Thomas Hearns, and Roberto Duran as well as world champions Vito Antuofermo and Alan Minter On March 16th 1986, Hagler challenged John Mugabi who at the time was 26-0 with all knockouts.

Hagler could have easily side stepped the bout in a similar way Mayweather would with Clottey or Williams. Hagler instead elected to prove his greatness by taking the fight, and overcoming some tough moments en route to an 11th round stoppage of the knockout king known as “The Beast”. This is an example of something a fighter who will always remain above Mayweather on an all time scale is willing to do. Hagler was not only great because of his toughness and incredible chin, but also due to his willingness to take risky fights and until Mayweather does so, expect his all time status to be questioned.

Article posted on 18.12.2007

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