22.07.07 – By Alden “The Kid” Chodash: Universally recognized as the best fighter today in the sport, Floyd Mayweather often puts himself beyond our modern era by claiming that he is the greatest boxing fighter of all time.
He is one of four fighters who have ever won titles in five separate weight divisions. Mayweather’s beaten twelve world boxing champions in his illustrious career, maintained his status as the pound for pound best for two years now, and has also kept intact a perfect record of 38-0 (24). So why can’t Mayweather very well be the greatest fighter in the history of the ring. In thinking, I have compiled a list of the all-time greats who reined supreme in each of the five divisions in which Floyd has competed:
Alexis Arguello: Arguello may not have looked impressive consistently in a fight, but he always had a purpose in everything he was doing, which is particularly the reason he won titles in three divisions against tremendous opposition. Although his punch will always keep him from being counted out in a bout, Alexis was vulnerable to footspeed and handspeed and when they are combined, as they were in his two bouts with Pryor, Alexis turned from a first class caliber opponent to a second class one. Unfortunately for him, Mayweather would combine handspeed and footspeed as well, and if anything, probably better than Pryor. Therefore, I’d pick Mayweather to win on points.
Azumah Nelson: Nelson might of been one of the greatest thinkers in the whole history of the sport. A very smart, patient fighter who systematically broke down the majority of his top-flight opposition, almost did the same to a living legend in Salvador Sanchez in only the Ghanaian’s fourteenth bout. Nelson, like Arguello was susceptible to speed, and when a fighter can move as well as Mayweather, Nelson goes into his methodical stalking approach as he did in his unsuccessful lightweight title bid against Pernell Whitaker, which would be perfect for Floyd to operate. In a more difficult affair (than one with Arguello would be), Floyd wins a decision.
Joe Gans: Joe Gans, I believe, might be the greatest fighter of all time. He overcame unneeded adversity out of the ring that not only shortened his life, but should have severely limited any fighter’s performance in the ring before his bout with Battling Nelson, and not only won the bout, but in the 42nd round! Imagine Floyd, or any other fighter today under those circumstances. The perfectly conditioned Mayweather was showing signs of fatigue against De La Hoya in only the 12th round. But other than that event, Gans was a marvel in the ring, whose relaxed style was not only ahead of his time, but probably was good enough to handle the best fighters of our era, and I think that includes Mayweather. Gans’ stiff left jab I believe would pave the road to a victory and his head would do the rest (Let’s not forget that Gans was often called a real genius in the ring). I’d pick Gans by decision if it went twelve. If it went 42, he’d win in about the 15th.
Roberto Duran: If you’re trying to imagine a way the great Duran could defeat Mayweather, you have to think back to 1981 when Duran wrested the welterweight crown from Ray Leonard, who is extremely similar to Floyd, from the neck down. What separates Mayweather from Leonard is that Floyd can cope with adversity in a much more calm, relaxed manner. And don’t get me wrong, Mayweather would definitely be facing adversity against Duran. But did you see the way Leonard easily handled Duran in the rematch by moving instead of fighting. I believe Mayweather can emulate that style and win a decision. But if he decides to fight with Duran as Leonard did in their first bout, I think Mayweather wins as well. Remember, Mayweather is extremely difficult to nail in close quarters as well.
Julio Cesar Chavez: Chavez, maybe the greatest fighter in the history of Mexican boxing, is another fighter who plays into Mayweather’s style of fighting. Chavez’s will to win is enormous, but Mayweather, like Whitaker, can keep the crowd out of a fight, and refuse to let his adversary grab the momentum. I know many say Chavez was past his prime by the time he fought Whitaker and was given a boxing lesson, but in Chavez’s finest hour, he was soundly beaten up by Meldrick Taylor, a quick fighter who abandons defense. Mayweather wins the way Whitaker did, except hopefully the judges would have got it right.
Ray Robinson: I think if there was one fighter who could have soundly beaten Mayweather, other than Gans, it would be Robinson. Robinson, who has every right to call himself the greatest fighter ever, would have used his jab to keep Mayweather on the outside, his speed would allow himself to catch Floyd coming in, and his punching power would make Mayweather more respectful in the ring of any fighter as he has ever faced. Mayweather would have his moments, but they’d be too scarce for him to have a chance at victory. Robinson on points.
Pernell Whitaker: Think back to Mayweather’s victory over Zab Judah in April of ’06. Before Judah mentally broke down in the ring, he was handling Floyd like no man has ever handled him before. Why? Because of his usefulness of the southpaw stance, handspeed, and defense. Aren’t those all in Whitaker’s repertoire? And also, Whitaker definitely portrays those aspects much better than Zab does. It’s hard putting two fighters so oftenly compared in the ring together but if they were, Whitaker would have prevailed via decision in a fight not much more exciting than a chess match.
Emile Griffith: Griffith was about as smooth as they come. A picturesque fighter who could uncork a big one, but didn’t do that often enough to be portrayed as a puncher. Griffith, like many other fighters on this list, had trouble with fellow movers such as Luis Rodriguez, Jose Napoles, and Benny Paret. Although Griffith was awful swift in there, Mayweather would find kinks in his armor, capitalize, and take home a points win.
Let the arguments begin………
Alden “The Kid” Chodash operates AldenBoxing.com.