Floyd Mayweather: An Appraisal

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

This was not necessarily a hard article to write. Some of them have been, but this one wasn’t. You see… Floyd Mayweather is a polarizing figure on our little corner of the sports information superhighway. You mention his name and there are a whole bunch of people who freak out one way or the other. Some people think he can do no wrong, and others think that he is the biggest fraud in boxing today. I have watched most of, if not all of, Floyd’s fights and I’ve come up with a few things both positive and negative.

Positives first.

A: Floyd always keeps in condition. In an era where so many top fighters nowadays (Yeah I’m looking at you Chris Arreola), it’s refreshing to see a guy who keeps himself around fighting weight pretty much all year round. Also…. Floyd’s nutritionist and strength coaches are well-respected throughout the world. They’ve managed to keep him as fit as any boxer out there.

B: Floyd has a tremendous amateur pedigree. Bronze Medalist at the Atlanta Olympic Games, National Golden Gloves Champion 3 straight years in 3 different weight classes. I really don’t know what else you want a guy to do in the unpaid ranks.

C: Floyd is a terrific defensive boxer. Angles, the shoulder roll defense, shutting down an opponent’s offense. He’s the best at it since Whitaker, and the best currently.

Now the negatives.

A: He does not have a finisher’s instinct. At this point in his career, for whatever reason, he keeps guys around way too much. Think about it: he has 1 knockout in his last 5 fights. And that one knockout came after 11 rounds of action, and happened largely because his opponent skid head-first into the ring post. Floyd is awfully content, detrimentally so sometimes, to keep an opponent around for the full 12 rounds. Maybe it’s his notoriously brittle hands. Maybe his power has not carried up from the lower weights but for whatever reason he doesn’t finish like a P-4-P king should.

B: He’s a terrifyingly conservative offensive fighter. Watch a Floyd Mayweather fight and look for the combination punching. You will notice it in small bursts if you even notice it at all. He rations out his punches like they were an allowance for his kids.

C: He headhunts. It’s perhaps hard to believe for a guy with his boxing pedigree and knowledge but I don’t think I’ve seen him go to the body all that often. Even when he was faced with a weight-drained Carlos Baldomir and an out-of-shape Ricky Hatton…. Head shots. I don’t know why he doesn’t go after the body, but I haven’t ever seen it.

But just listing Floyd’s strength and weaknesses isn’t what makes him so controversial. It’s the way he carries himself. And more than that it’s the way that so many other people treat him.

I’ve watched most of Floyd’s fights, even the ones against Henry Bruseles and Victoriano Sosa (which should be grounds for some sort of waiver and tax credit.) But what I didn’t see when I was looking at Floyd is his sport’s transcendent figure. Not a guy so good, so unbelievably above and beyond what people were doing that to compare him to others seemed foolish. In short, not the greatest of all time.

But if you listen to Floyd assess himself he will tell you he’s better than Sugar Ray Robinson, who is universally regarded as the best who ever did it. In fact, one of Floyd’s friends Paulie Malignaggi, who couldn’t knock a toddler out with his money punch, proclaimed that not only would Floyd beat Sugar Ray but that Sugar Ray was overrated because he took too many punches. It is this kind of reductive attitude, the concept that everything from the past is intrinsically worse than today’s best, that Floyd personifies. Let me make clear: Floyd is a great fighter. How great, and where you rank him, is subjective. But he is NOT Ray Robinson. He is not the best of all time.

And also, and this is the last part, I’m running out of excuses for Floyd. He didn’t want to fight Cotto because Cotto wasn’t ready yet. Margarito I’m actually happy he didn’t fight because that cheater didn’t deserve a shot. Mosley got nothing because Floyd is mad that when Mosley was rebuilding Floyd called him out and didn’t get an answer. And the negotiations between him and Pacquiao fell apart. But Floyd? If you can’t get Mosley done and instead fight a blown-up Nate Campbell or Paulie Malignaggi it’s over. You’re not the best in the world anymore at that point. I know you might not like to hear this, but it’s the truth.

19 Responses to “Floyd Mayweather: An Appraisal”

  1. KevDog says:

    Floyd duck Pac Man. Pure and simple.

  2. Okori Wadsworth says:

    KEV!

    I don’t actually think this is true. It’s not simple. You add a mix of Floyd Jr. and Sr. not knowing what the hell they’re on about discussing HGH as though Manny went from flyweight to welterweight in 6 weeks. You have De La Hoya, Floyd’s co-promoter, looking for every reason to diminish Manny to make the fight between Floyd and Mosley seem like the biggest fight of the year. And you have american boxing fans, who do not understand the filipino ethic and think Manny has to be cheating.

    This isn’t going to end until they both step in the ring, when and if that is.

  3. bernard lee says:

    Your ‘appraisal’ of Floyd Mayweather is a poorly disguised rant that places you squarely among those who “think Floyd is the biggest fraud in boxing today.” Your ‘appraisal’ is fueled by feelings rather than fact and your pretense of objectivity invalidates the persuasive intent of your article. Ultimately public opinion will be formed by what Floyd does , not what you write. Your appraisal contains what amounts to one full paragraph of Mayweather’s good points while the bad is six or seven. Thats not a problem in itself; but for an undefeated five division champion whose knockout ration is very respectable, it obviously has become personal for you. As I speak it has been confirmed Floyd will fight Mosley on May1. This confirmation alone has disproved countless proclamations that ‘floyd will never fight mosley’

  4. Tell It Like It Is says:

    The only thing that will quiet the negative opinions of Floyd Mayweather would be him delivering a sound whoopin to both Mosely and Pacquiao. Once he beats both of them, all you will hear from Pacquiao fans are the Mississippi night sounds of crickets….

  5. michelle says:

    Nice work Okori :)

  6. Jerold Wells Jr. says:

    To quote the great Ric Flair: ‘to be the best, you gotta beat the best.’
    Why did we love the Ray Robinsons, Haglers, Alis, Ray Leonards, and Fraziers? Because they fought and beat the best.
    Can we say that for Mayweather?

  7. Okori Wadsworth says:

    @BernardLee: Since I’ve been gone for a little while I only just today got to read your comment. And, with all due respect, I think you heard what you wanted to hear and not what is truthful. In his last 5 fights he has 1 knockout. This does not make him a bad fighter. It just means that he prefers to win wide decisions than go for knockouts, and that his offensive attack is built around control rather than explosiveness.

    As someone who has watched a lot of boxing you begin to see, if you watch long enough, where a guy feels the most comfortable. For instance….. Meldrick Taylor felt the most comfortable in close, trading shots at close range. Even though he had the talent to stay on the outside and box it wasn’t what he was about. Conversely….. Juan Manuel Marquez is a first-rate counterpuncher. He spends time working on it, knows the best punch to counteract your attack.

    It’s not that Floyd is a bad fighter. It’s that he no longer possesses the dynamism that the P-4-P king should possess. When you consider yourself the Best in the World there should be a WOW factor. A “Oh my god we’re watching the (insert great fighter here) fight tonight.” Floyd is simply not that kind of fighter. Roy Jones was. Pacquaio is. Trinidad was. and…. Shane Mosley was. That’s all.

  8. MODI says:

    Hey Okori, as know, criticism #1 and #3 can be attributed and were often attributed to Muhammad Ali and #2 as well unless he was stretched. But what he shares with Ali is that he has never walked into the ring where he wasn’t the smarter man.

    While I get what your saying about “wow factor”, that factor is usually only attributed to offense, and I understand why that is just the way I understand that the public prefers a 10-9 baseball game over one that is 1-0. HOWEVER, in his very last fight — especially defensively — there was an incredible wow factor.

    Connect %:
    59% — Mayweather
    12% — Marquez

    WOW!

    Punches landed last three rounds:

    105 — Mayweather
    15 — Marquez

    WOW!

    That seems like a strong finisher to me. And he did it after almost a two year layoff on a hall-of-fame fighter who NO ONE has ever looked good against — not even Pacquiao.

    WOW!

    And no — “weight — has nothing to do with the fact that Marquez was swinging wildly at air all night. That is speed and defensive genius. “WOW” is in the eye of the beholder. My point is that “the wow factor” has almost always been synonymous with knockouts which is precisely why I can’t get into any semblance of a rational conversation about Mike Tyson with friend that I grew up with watching him. All of them believe the story that if only Tyson stayed focused, stayed with Kevin Rooney, and stayed away from Robin Givens, blah, blah, blah that he would have been the best heavyweight who ever lived.

    I’ve come to learn that nothing does more to blind people than the violent knockout whether it be Liston, Foreman, Tyson, or now Pacquiao. Don’t get me wrong Manny is an absolutely wonderful fighter who I love, but no one ever notes that he never really ever faces elusive fighters, let alone one of Floyd’s caliber. Marquez was the only one — sort of. I think that Pac’s “wow factor” can’t be fully assessed until he faces a fighter who refuse to stand in front of him.

    Also, that Pac fight didn’t happen because of Pac. Period. And the fact that Floyd is taking a huge risk in fighting Shane with 40 mil on the table shows you that his ducking ways have ended.

  9. MODI says:

    Couple more notes: Shane had a wow factor when he was a lightweight and knocking everyone out put before him, but didn’t that change when he moved up and was no longer the knockout guy? And I love Roy’s speed, and many boxing fans were “wowed” by it, but many of the criticisms you raise against Floyd were also raised against Roy.

  10. Temple3 says:

    Good job MODI. I was thinking the same thing about Ali. Head-hunting ain’t the worst way to box — if you’re good at it. It allows a fighter to conserve energy — and if that fighter is super accurate and super quick, it wears on the psyche of an opponent to know they’re going to get popped each and every time they attack.

  11. Okori Wadsworth says:

    @MODI: It actually didn’t change when he moved up to 147 at first (the De La Hoya fight was all kinds of fun, and the stuff he did to Adrian Stone was borderline unfair). It changed when he was in there with Vernon Forrest, a guy who had always given him problems (tall guy with a good jab who knew how to make his fights ugly which he had to with Shane.) Then…. he went up to 154 which was a mistake, instead of staying at 147 after Mayorga (Margarito’s spiritual heir in that he was a swing-first, swing-second, and think third swarmer) blew up Forrest.

    And about Roy: i think with hindsight the Gerald McClellan thing had far more of an effect on RJJ than we realized at the time. Plus….. he was still dazzling even as a HEAVYWEIGHT. I think the biggest flaw with Roy, and Floyd will never have this problem, is that Roy was a great athlete who turned out to be a damned good fighter while Floyd is a great natural boxer who turned out to be a damned good athlete.

    @T3: There could be chapter and verse about all the things Ali did that trainers go into hives when they see fighters do now. Ali had, for one thing, the fastest pair of hands in heavyweight history, maybe in all boxing history. He could get away with fundamental mistakes not a lot of other guys could. And, to be clear, I don’t even have a problem with head-hunting most of the time. It’s just that if the book on a guy is that he doesn’t have much stamina because of a brutal weight-cutting process (Baldomir) but he has a chin like an anvil case, you go to the body. That’s it.

  12. Mizzo says:

    Modi says:

    Also, that Pac fight didn’t happen because of Pac. Period. And the fact that Floyd is taking a huge risk in fighting Shane with 40 mil on the table shows you that his ducking ways have ended.

    Thank you. Trust me people, being closer to the situation, I KNOW Floyd ducking Pac is absolutely absurd. Be smarter. When the time comes, I’ll tell you why. I’ll say this. A couple of years ago I covered a panel of Floyd, Arum and King. There were salvos thrown from all three men and if the public knew what went down, there opinion of Floyd would totally change.

  13. Temple3 says:

    Okori: I heard that.

    Mizzo: Uh, there is a big game on Sunday — any thoughts?? :)

  14. Mizzo says:

    We’ll be snowed in so I’m posting them tomorrow fam. Too close to call.

  15. MODI says:

    Okori, Roy was never a great boxer in the “science” sense. not even close to Hopkins. Dude just had superior quickness than any mere mortal. you can tell a lot about a great fighter when his speed slows down. That is when we learned about Ali’s incredible chin, his incredible will, and his incredible ring smarts. Ali still wasn’t fundamentally sound, still kept his hands low, and still pulled from punches, but like an aging pitcher who lost his fastball, he made many adjustments. Roy couldn’t and that says something. …agree on McClellan

    T3, agreed. there is no need to have a “complete” arsenal simply for its own sake. Mariano Rivera gets folks out with one pitch so should we care that he doesn’t throw a curveball?

    mizzo, to what I think your point is, Arum was definitely part of the problem. Floyd caved in on ring-size, date of fight, and an incredible 10 mil per pound over-the limit fee. he came off his stance on blood testing from one day before the fight to a 14 day window. So Pac won’t come off a 24 day window for 40 million? It just makes no sense. If Shane or Clottey pull an upset everything is off the table. That is not the kind of money that you mess around with over 10 day difference of testing. Either Pac is juicing or getting the worst advice from Arum who might be ensuring that the fight might still be there later — a promise that can’t be guaranteed.

  16. Okori Wadsworth says:

    @MODI: I knew Roy was going to have an ugly end long before anyone else did. It was the Glen Kelly fight, when he PUT HIS HANDS BEHIND HIS BACK. I am sorry but it’s cute to get away with that shit when you’re in your prime. But when that half-a-second goes away Glen Johnson gets in that ass. Even Barrera and Morales, who waged holy war against each other 3 times (the first fight being the best sub-heavyweight fight I’ve seen until Castillo-Corrales 1), adapted. Barrera basically drove Naseem Hamed out of boxing.

    Mariano Rivera is some kind of weird statistical outlier. It’s not even fair to compare how he does things to other people.

    and on a happy note….. did anyone see Yuriorkis Gamboa blow through Rogers Mtagwa? HOLY GOD. Mtagwa is a serious tough guy. And Gamboa just ran right through him.

  17. MODI says:

    Gamboa could be great, but still needs to tighten his D.

    The young dude who really has me impressed right now is Andre Ward.

  18. Okori Wadsworth says:

    Gamboa has a little Meldrick Taylor in him I will say that.

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