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.
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.