49-0 – arguably the most famous numbers in boxing history. They belong to the great Rocky Marciano, heavyweight king of the 1950s, and having retired with such a perfect, unblemished record, Rocky holds a special place in sports. But this Saturday night in Las Vegas, Floyd Mayweather Junior will go to 50-0 if he defeats Conor McGregor, and he will break Marciano’s record. Or will he?
Floyd himself, when asked if he feels he deserves to break Marciano’s record, has responded in an indifferent manner, saying it “doesn’t matter,” and that it is basically up to other folks to decide. One man who says no way will “Money” top “The Rock’s” record is (an obviously biased) Rocky Marciano Junior. Not surprisingly, Rocky’s son says that “no matter what happens, I don’t think it should go towards Mayweather’s professional career (record). Win or lose.”
Marciano Jr. argues how Saturday night’s fight, between a 49-0 great and a 0-0-0 boxing novice, falls firmly into exhibition territory.
“This fight to me isn’t a true boxing match,” Marciano Jr. told USA Today.
Rocky Junior also argues how it is much tougher for a heavyweight to remain undefeated than it is for a lower weight fighter.
“Heavyweights, most of them, hold the highest knockout percentage for a reason,” he said. “They’re bigger, they’re stronger and one punch can take a heavyweight out. So it’s a lot more difficult to stay undefeated than it is for someone in the lower weight class, where it can be more of a type of match where you’re just outpointing your opponent.”
So is Marciano Jr. correct, on both counts? On paper, Mayweather, if he does as is largely expected and defeats McGregor, WILL go to 50-0 in the books, as Saturday’s fight is a sanctioned pro boxing match. Many fans, not just Marciano supporters, will not in their heart of hearts look at Mayweather as a man who has truly broken the immortal heavyweight king’s record, but officially, or technically if you prefer, he will have done so.
As to whether it’s harder to stay unbeaten if you are a heavyweight compared to, say, a welterweight or a middleweight, that is very debatable. There have been, and there are currently, murderous punchers operating many pounds below heavyweight, and against them any fighter of equal size and weight faces the prospect of having his lights taken out at any given time – just like a heavyweight does.
But as far as Rocky’s record goes, chances are great that after Saturday it will remain right where it is: untouchable in the hearts and minds of boxing fans and historians.