Floyd Mayweather Jr.: Could He Be The Greatest Ever?

25.02.05 - By Darrell La Montre: Having followed his career since the ‘96 Olympics, I’ve had my educated eye on Floyd Mayweather Junior for some time now. Ever since his early days on ESPN2, I’ve been telling everyone within earshot “This kid is special”. It was clear as day to me that he was born and bread to be a fighter. Fighting to him is as effortless as you and I taking a leak.. It took a while for him to get half the respect that he deserves, and he still isn’t getting the full respect in my opinion. Heading into his first world title fight at the tender age of twenty-one against Genardo Hernandez, Mayweather was an underdog in the eyes of many “experts”, but not this one. I didn’t care that at the time he had had only 17 pro fights, he was a prodigy!! Why couldn’t anyone else see it? He went on to stop the cagy champ in the 8th round and “shock” many boxing analysts and fans. I find it kind of funny that when an upcoming fighters lack explosive one punch knockout power they often become underrated, while fighters who are fraught with power become overrated.

Flash forward a little over 6 years, and Mayweather is now a two divisional World Champion, who’s working on his third. He’s widely considered to be at least the second best pound for pound fighter in the world.

With all do respect to Bernard Hopkins, he should be number one. What makes Mayweather so special is that he is a tremendously athletic fighter who has great technical skill to boot!! Roy Jones was a phenomenal athlete, but no one ever accused him of being technically sound. Same with Ali. No one ever said, “Wow…what form Ali has”, or “Look how Jones delivers that perfect left hook”. With Floyd, there’s this amalgamation of speed, quickness, footwork, technical skill, defense, and athleticism. Another advantage that Mayweather has over a fighter like Jones is his level of competition. Mayweather has already beaten some very solid opposition, and the fighters that lay ahead can easily make him a legend: Tszyu, Cotto, Judah, De La Hoya, Mosley. Imagine if he beats all these guys (on top of the excellent fighters he’s already beaten), he’d be a real threat to knock Sugar Ray Robinson off the throne as the all time pound for pound greatest.

I know statements like that make a lot of fossils from back in the day livid: “How dare you even suggest that a current fighter could even carry Robinson’s jock strap!! He was the greatest, and he always will be”. That is absurd. Nobody is the greatest forever -- that’s ridiculous. Of what I’ve seen of Robinson, he was great. Of course, there’s no footage of him at his best weight (147lbs) so it’s hard to really compare the two in their prime. As great as Robinson was, it’s hard to imagine him getting hit any less than Mayweather. It’s easier to hit the lottery than it is to hit Floyd. The Robinson at 160lbs was getting hit, and hit often by fighters who with all due respect were nowhere near the talent of Floyd. Also, can you imagine Floyd having life and death fights with a guy like La Motta? La Motta was tough as nails, but c’mon!!

Mayweather has already had virtuoso performances against very solid opposition. His performance against Diego Corrales a while back (a fighter who is now a 2 time world champ) was one of the greatest pugilistic boxing performances ever. The offensive/defensive prowess that Floyd displayed on that night was magical. In a pound for pound sense, his peers are Robinson, Ali, Jones, and Leonard. Let’s say he goes on to win the title at 140lbs, and 147lbs over great opposition, he has to go down at the very least with Leonard and Jones. As for Ali, he was great, but he was basically a larger version of Jones (great speed, quickness, coordination, but lacked technical skill). When Ali’s speed began to diminish, he got hit a lot more and his good chin and great recuperative powers are what precluded him from being knocked out like Jones was.

This leaves Robinson: Mayweather’s true competition. Robinson had a good chin, power, speed, quickness, footwork, heart, and good defense. Mayweather’s heart and chin have yet to be truly tested. His heart was tested a little when he was in serious pain from having hurt his hands during a fight, but we need to see him hurt by a punch. We need to see him get dropped, cut, swelled up and come back to win the fight. We need to see him dig deep and find a way to win. The only problem is, he might be too good to ever be in those situations. He just might become the best ever.

Article posted on 25.02.2005

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