Floyd Mayweather finished the final fight of his career just as he had 48 previous times…unbeaten.
Now he says he will ride off into the Vegas desert, never to box again.
No champion in the sport has been more polarizing than Mayweather.
His detractors, and there are many, view Mayweather as the beneficiary of one of the weakest eras in modern boxing. They say Floyd cared more about protecting his unblemished record than challenging himself.
His supporters, and there are just as many, say Floyd is the biggest draw in all of sports. He’s undefeated and the richest fighter of all time and that he’s done it outside of the traditional promoter system that has shortchanged so many fighters financially.
Then there are the numerous allegations and convictions of domestic abuse that have followed Mayweather over the last few years, showing him to be both a cruel and sad figure.
I am no Mayweather fan. Not as a boxer or a person.
I don’t consider myself an expert on the sport, though I have been watching since I was a child. Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson were as big to me as Magic Johnson or Joe Montana when I was growing up.
I watched the primes of Oscar De La Hoya, Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, and Roy Jones, Jr.
Mayweather isn’t in the same class of fighter as Hagler or a Roberto Duran, so in my mind he can’t be compared to Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis or Rocky Marciano.
His style, while undoubtedly effective, is not entertaining. A Mayweather fight leaves you disappointed. Too little action, too little drama. Too many overmatched opponents. Floyd probably hasn’t thrown a power punch that mattered since his split decision victory over De La Hoya in 2007.
The biggest names that Floyd Mayweather faced in his career (Manny Pacquiao, De La Hoya, “Sugar” Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto) were on the downsides of the career when they stepped into the ring. Floyd always knew exactly who he was fighting…and when.
I can’t fault any man for wanting to make as much money as he can professionally. Nor can I say that in a sport as brutal as boxing am I think it foolish to choose a style that limits the ability of an opponent to connect with their punches. But when it comes to making historical comparisons with the very best of all time, Floyd comes up short.
Simply being undefeated doesn’t make you the greatest.
The 1972 Miami Dolphins are still the only team in NFL history to finish a season without a defeat. Rarely, if ever, is that group brought up as the best team professional football has ever seen.
There will be no sepia-colored remembrances of the Mayweather Era. He will be talked about, surely. There may even be a longing at some point for a star of Floyd’s magnitude in a sport that is increasingly devoid of them. Surely Floyd will talk about himself. Even without the limelight that comes from being in the ring, I doubt this is the last we’ve heard from Floyd. He says he’s done in the ring though. He says there’s nothing left to prove.
“I’ve accomplished everything”, he said after the fight. “Money don’t make me; I make money.”
He did make money. He took every opportunity to let us know that he could make it, and that he could spend it.
Not one of the huge purses that he made from his fights have enough money to buy Floyd a better reputation as a human being. There aren’t enough expensive vehicles to drive him away from the fact that he is not “The Best Ever” as he so proudly proclaims, but simply the best right now.
Mayweather could have been a legend in the ring (as long as we overlook his indiscretions outside of it). Instead I think Floyd Mayweather will be remembered as someone we never truly saw the best of. There are so many “if only he had” that precede every analysis of the champion. There are so many questions that linger.
One of the great statistical compilers in sport was Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt has a bevy of amazing marks from his 100 point game, to his 50 point single-season scoring average, to his finishing a season averaging more than 48 minutes played per game. There’s one stat that has always bothered me on “The Dipper’s” resume. In his career he never fouled out of a single game. It is remarkable but not for the reason you may think. To me it says that Wilt wasn’t ever truly aggressive enough, that he didn’t take as many chances as he could have.
That’s what Mayweather’s 49-0 feels like to me. It seems like Mayweather decided a while a go to encase his career in bubble wrap. It’s almost as if being champion meant something to Floyd only as long as it got him paid. And that is his right.
But long ago Floyd’s act and his fighting ceased to be entertaining. His ring entrances became more interesting than the 12 rounds of boxing. What becomes of him now is anyone’s guess.
As a fan of the sport, I hope this was the end. I hope not one person has to squander their money on a fight they’ve forgotten by the time the fighters have left the ring. I hope that new champions, worthy of the moniker, arise.