Floyd Mayweather Jr. - Is He More All-Time Fraud than All-Time Great?

08.08.06 - By Anthony Coleman: Greatness is a very popular word in boxing. Whenever we see a boxer with a ton of ability and a gaudy record, certain spectators will virtually go into delirium and quickly proclaim “this guy is one of the greatest fighters whoever lived.” However, which is often the case, the term is often tossed around too much. Often boxing fans will designate a fighter for greatness without putting a fighter’s ring accomplishments into its proper perspective. Greatness is rarely seen and we should be extremely cautious when we label a fighter as “great”.

This brings me to Floyd Mayweather. With his combination of excellent technique and rarely seen physical skills, Floyd Mayweather, is regarded by many fans and writers (such as Dan Rafael and Kevin Iole) as pound-for-pound the best fighter in the sport today. Some are actually questioning where Mayweather ranks historically. Personally, I think that placing Mayweather as the best fighter in the sport, let alone labeling him as an all-time great, is ridiculous. While I agree that Mayweather is the most gifted boxer today, he is also the most overrated boxer in the world as well.

My objection to Mayweather is simple: he hasn’t fought an elite fighter in four years. In December of 2002, Mayweather decisioned Jose Luis Castillo in their rematch and gained recognition as the best lightweight in the sport. Since that fight, while other fighters like Pacquiao, Wright, and Corrales have tested themselves against Boxing’s best fighters, Mayweather has been on a semi-professional hiatus. He’s defeated faded former champions (Sharmba Mitchell), overrated boxers (Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah), blew out built-up fake contenders (Philip N’Dou and Henry Bruseles), and fended off decent but hardly spectacular fighters (DeMarcus Corley and Victoriano Sosa). This is the record of the supposed best fighter in boxing?

More damning than his recent underwhelming record, is Mayweather’s refusal to fight the best available fighters. Last month, Mayweather turned down an offer from promoter Bob Arum to fight Antonio Margarito on Pay-Per-View for 8 million dollars. You’re not hallucinating: Mayweather turned down a fight with Margarito that would have paid him 8 million dollars. Mayweather’s rejection of the offer has brought the ire of Mayweather’s harshest detractors. If you go on to certain boxing websites, you’ll read writers using the “Fraud Mayweather” moniker.

Obviously Mayweather, stung by the unfavorable (but accurate) criticism that he has received, has tried to justify his recent head-shaking actions. As a recent guest on “Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith,” Mayweather gave two reasons why he turned down the fight with Margarito. Mayweather “believes” that Margarito hasn’t beaten a worthy opponent (he exact words to Smith were, “Who has Margarito beaten?”) and the fight wouldn’t attract the attention of the general public because Margarito is unknown.

Call me a “Pretty Boy Hater” all you want, but I personally find Mayweather’s reasoning to be as fraudulent as his IBF title. Mayweather knows that Margarito is the number one ranked Welterweight in the world; having beaten more top contenders than anybody else in the division. The only reason why he hasn’t gotten a shot at an elite fighter is due to the fact that he is perhaps the most avoided fighter in the sport today. Mayweather knows that Margarito is his biggest threat at welterweight.

Also, Mayweather seems perfectly content with fighting other anonymous boxers for far less money. Most casual sports fans knew nothing about Corley, Mitchell, Bruseles, and Judah. Let us not forget that Mayweather accepted the Judah fight after Judah had lost his Undisputed Welterweight Title to Carlos Baldomir the previous fight. Essentially, Mayweather was fighting a guy whose reputation among fans had already been tarnished. He also was paid four million dollars for the Judah fight, approximately half of what he would have been paid had he accepted the Margarito fight.

If you add up all of the events and are objective about this topic, there can only be one explanation to what is going: Mayweather is avoiding Antonio Margarito. To pretend otherwise and make up excuses for Mayweather’s actions is being foolish. The so-called “pound-for-pound” best fighter in the sport wants no part of the Tijuana native.

You know what the saddest part about this event maybe? It’s not the fact that Mayweather is running scared, or the fact that he is defrauding the public out of quality fights. Hell, it’s not even the fact that Margarito is being denied the defining fight he has worked so hard to achieve. The biggest travesty is that by Mayweather’s refusal to face the best; he’s punting away his chances for all-time greatness.

As all boxing fans know, Boxers are judged by two criteria. The first is overall talent/ boxing skills. The second is accomplishments, with a huge emphasis placed on quality of opposition. Of these two, the latter is the more important- a lot more important! Talent alone cannot place a boxer into the pantheon of greatness. A fighter must prove his ring excellence by squaring off against the best fighters around or near his weight class. It’s the only way to truly validate a fighter’s talent-by seeing how he will react against the adversity and skill that other worthy fighters will bring. Furthermore, when a boxer’s career is complete, the students of history will first look at his accomplishments and ask what themselves one question: “who did this fighter beat?” The record of opposition is the most significant testament to a fighter’s career.

History’s elite fighters cemented their legacies by facing high quality opposition. Sugar Ray Robinson, the greatest boxer whoever lived, is remembered for his unparalleled boxing skills in the ring. But it was Robinson’s wins against arguably the best collection of opponents in boxing history that earned him his “pound for pound” moniker. In his twenty-five year career Robinson defeated Sammy Angott, Kid Gavilan, Jake Lamotta, Gene Fullmer, Carmen Basillio, Carl “Bobo” Olson, and Fritzie Zivic.

Muhammad Ali, the greatest Heavyweight in history, also proved himself against the best. Ali will forever be remembered as Boxing’s most recognizable and colorful figure, and for his phenomenal footwork, reflexes and hand-speed. Yet Muhammad Ali also defeated Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, George Forman, Ron Lyle, Ken Norton, and Earnie Shavers. Ali beat more elite Heavyweights than any other Heavyweight champion in the history of the division.

Sugar Ray Leonard had a very short career where he won less than 40 career fights. However, Leonard defeated Wilfred Benitez, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, and Marvin Hagler. His very high level of competition is the only reason why Leonard is rightfully mentioned among the very best boxers of all-time. I can name other greats and their records as examples (ex: Willie Pep, Roberto Duran, Joe Louis), but you understand the point. Merit and accomplishment is the true signs of greatness, and Mayweather is trying to cheat history with his actions.

Yet, Mayweather’s reluctance and his obsession to preserve his pristine perfect record may ironically become his undoing. When his career is over, the fans, writers and boxing historians will ask the unavoidable question that is asked about all fighters: “Who did Mayweather beat? What did he accomplish to deserve to sit in the pantheon of greatness?” If he continues on this path he won’t be inducted into this exclusive echelon and that would be a crying shame, because before 2003 it looked as if Mayweather was destined for greatness.

From 1998 to 2002, Mayweather was tremendous, and his record included wins over a list of quality opponents. When he was at Junior Lightweight, Mayweather defeated Genaro Hernandez, Angel Manfredy, Carlos Hernandez, Diego Corrales, and Jesus Chavez. In fact Mayweather didn’t just win many of those fights, he absolutely destroyed Genaro Hernandez, Corrales and Chavez. At 130 lbs. Mayweather was the real deal. To be honest there are only two Junior Lightweight in history who I consider better than Mayweather (those two fighters being Alexis Arguello and Julio Cesar Chavez). But after his two razor close decision wins against Jose Luis Castillo, it’s been all down hill for Mayweather with the supremely gifted ring genius no longer willing to challenge the very best. I’m hoping that Mayweather finally gets his act together before his chance at immortality passes him by.

Article posted on 08.08.2006

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