Boxing


Floyd Mayweather Jr. Might Be THE GREATEST

13.12.07 - By Scoop Malinowski: I'm a believer now. Floyd Mayweather might be the greatest fighter or one of the very best fighters we've ever seen. Floyd once was asked by yours truly what he thought was his finest, best performance and he responded he thought it was the victory over Justin Jukko. But there have been so many triumphs of excellence - defeating Genaro Hernandez, Diego Corrales, Angel Manfredy, Arturo Gatti and most recently Ricky Hatton all of which have been masterpieces of pugilistic brilliance..

The destruction of Hatton was particularly impressive to my eyes. He openly and incessantly disrespected Hatton in press conferences to his person and also in the media. It was almost reminiscent of the relentless cruelty Muhammad Ali heaped on Joe Frazier. Frazier, of course, was enflamed into a violent beast by Ali's insults but Ali had no regard or remorse for Joe's feelings. Ali knew he could beat Joe. Mocking and humiliating Joe over and over showed in clear terms who it was that had the upper hand of their business dealing. As hard and as well as Joe worked, and as much punishment as he inflicted on Ali, it was just never enough. Ali, except for 1971 at Madison Square Garden, always came out on top.

Mayweather seems to be similar to Ali in this way. Evander Holyfield used to say he would never talk bad about his opponents because one, it was not in his nature, and two, because he didn't want to give his rival any extra incentive to knock his head off. Floyd is so good and so confident in his powers, he just says whatever he wants to say about his challengers. Consequences be damned. Now that's fearlessness.

I have been thinking about the un-sportsmanlike way Mayweather sometimes prefers to behave regarding his opponents. Floyd seems to relish and gain strength from his trash talking as it's an outlet for venting emotions. I believe this is an important part of the process of how Floyd mentally prepares himself to do battle, to be at his very best. Mayweather uses his emotions to take him to a higher level of performance, like many great champions, such as Jimmy Connors, Pancho Gonzalez, John McEnroe, Lleyton Hewitt from tennis, Terrell Owens, Dick Butkus, Lawrence Taylor from the NFL, Dennis Rodman of the NBA. Jimmy Connors was reviled for some of his disgraceful displays on court - foul language, pumping his fists at the opponent, spitting and even grabbing his crotch - but these warfare tactics were effective for Jimbo achieving higher performance - he won eight singles majors including five U.S. Opens. "The ugly American", as described by Bud Collins in his encyclopedia, was "often controversial, he fought verbally with opponents, officials and the crowd. Considered a feisty wiseguy in his earlier days, Connors eventually became a respected elder."

Mayweather, like Connors, marches to his own drumbeat. He does it his way. Like Connors repulsed and disgusted the tennis establishment in his younger days, Mayweather has as well. George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya all have publicly made it clear they are not fans of Floyd's antics. Neither was Hatton. At the weigh-in last Friday, you could see Hatton was an inferno of intensity, just burning for the moment he could release his full rage on Mayweather. And Mayweather knew it. After the fight Mayweather said he knew Hatton was coming to "kill" and he knew he had to be ready. He was ready alright.

Faced with possibly the most dangerous and formidable threat of his career, Mayweather showed his best work. And don't forget it came at Floyd's fourth weight class. He totally nullified and neutralized Hatton, who was in fantastic physical and psychological form himself. It's just that Mayweather was superior. Faced with the awesome challenge from Hatton, Mayweather showed some new aspects of his greatness. I loved his ring entrance to Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The USA" and the focused, serious look on his face. He knew what he was up against and got into the trance. Then there was the inside fighting. He didn't roll the shoulder when on defense on the ropes as he has in the past. He actually seemed to outfight Hatton on the inside - we never saw Hatton land many clean blows, inside or at range.

It was just a fantastic performance by Mayweather, from top to bottom. If there is one complaint, it would be nice to see Mayweather act in a way that is more endearing to the fans and other boxers. No one can deny, Mayweather's fan-base is nothing compared to Hatton's. When Floyd shows up at public press conferences or weigh-ins, fans don't respond with overwhelming love, the kind of verbal affection that people like Duran, Tyson, Trinidad, De La Hoya always evoke. It would be nice to see Mayweather find a way to act more parallel to the great champion he is. Consider that Hatton had 20,000 backers fly over the Atlantic to support him - how many American Floyd fans would have flown to London if the fight was at Wembley last week? Maybe a dozen or two?

Ricardo Mayorga has sometimes acted like an uncivilized brute at press conferences. But when the fights were over with Spinks, Oscar and Vargas, El Matador always immediately apologized vehemently and emphatically for his misconduct. You could see he truly felt deeply sorry about it and it is very touching to see Mayorga practically begging for forgiveness in the ring with his opponents. The Nicaraguan does not show a lot of sophistication when battling in the ring but he always exhibits a ton of class after the final bell. I thought Floyd's apology to Hatton looked a little insincere. To be frank, I think Floyd can find a better way to carry himself, which would not only secure his legacy but it would inspire the one element of greatness he is lacking at the moment - overwhelming affection and adoration from boxing fans.

Floyd once gave this beautiful quote which proves he does have, in him, a high class attitude. "I like boxers in general," answered Mayweather when asked who the people were that he most admired. "Boxers always keep their heads up. Most of them came from the same background I came from. A lot of boxers don't come from a real nice environment, but a lot do. I came from the inner city. But I always had money in my pocket. I've had a good life. A lot of boxers do come from good families. People put boxers down but they keep their heads up."

Mayweather could retire right now and there would be nothing more to prove, inside the ring. Sure, everyone in boxing would love to see Mayweather test his skills against Paul Williams, Miguel Cotto, Kermit Cintron and Antonio Margarito in a unification tournament - and he maybe should if he wants to prove he is the best at welterweight. But right now at age 30 Floyd has done enough, he doesn't need to prove anything else. Floyd is undeniably a ring genius. He belongs among the ultimate pantheon, to stand with Ray Robinson and the most elite champions in boxing history.

Check out the Mayweather Biofile at www.thebiofile.com

Article posted on 14.12.2007



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