Beloved Leonard, Ali, Hated Mayweather?

By Robert Brown: One wonders whether Floyd Mayweather who is currently one of the most confrontational and divisive figures in boxing will grow to be revered like Sugar Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali currently are.

Sugar Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali at certain points of both their careers were loathed by certain sections of the boxing community, for the brash arrogant way that they appeared to conduct themselves in the public eye. Ali caused division in the early days more so for his stance on the Vietnam War and the lack of cultural understanding back then about his religious beliefs.

Although a large group of the boxing world always loved Sugar Ray Leonard there was a smaller minority of the boxing public that accused Leonard of what basically people who are against Mayweather accuse him of now. For example, Mayweather has been accused throughout most of his career of purposefully cherry picking opponents to suit himself and there was a certain section of the boxing public who back then accused Sugar Ray Leonard of the same thing.

There are people who believe that Sugar Ray Leonard only fought Marvin Hagler because he had seen in the Mugabi fight that Hagler had severely slowed down and appeared to have lost a significant amount of speed and reflexes. And since that fight it has come out that Hagler had lost the desire to fight and had to be convinced to take the fight with Sugar Ray Leonard and because of the time they spent together Leonard had a fair idea about Haglerís mental state at that particular time.

Some also may argue that Leonard only took the re-match with Thomas Herns because he had seen the fight with James Kitchen in which Thomas Herns provided a sub-par performance, got knocked down and was extremely lucky to escape with a victory. The fight was then scheduled and in my opinion if Thomas Herns did not look so ordinary in the Kitchen fight Leonard would have never taken it.

Despite the points I have just raised, Leonard never copped the same universal scrutiny that Mayweather is currently receiving and why is that? Is it because Mayweather does not have the same skills in dealing with the media that Ray Leonard has and is not as articulate as Leonard is? I believe these are two of the main reasons that a large section of the boxing community dislikes Mayweather simply because he does not have the media management and marketing skills that Leonard and Ali both have.

Ali throughout his whole career said more racially controversial statements than Mayweather. Mayweather's statements will never have the sting or the ever lasting effects that Aliís did. For instance, Ali called Joe Frazier an uncle Tom, which is one of the worst things at that time a black person could be called. This in my opinion is much more racist than what Mayweather said about Pacquiao. Ali also called Frazier primitive and a gorilla, yet Muhammad Ali is one of the most respected and admired world figures and Mayweather is not. These two fighters both engage in the same type of mental tactics, but one is revered and the other is despised by large sections of the boxing community.

It remains to be seen long after Mayweather has retired whether in time he will be respected for his contributions to boxing and put in the category as Leonard and Ali. Only time will tell.

Article posted on 20.10.2011

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