By: Damian Adams
The most polarizing athlete of the last 20 years has been Floyd Mayweather Jr. The arrogant, flashy, and flamboyant champion, has always made sure everyone knew he was the absolute best at what he does. As you can see in the picture above Mayweather has accumulated an abundance of championship belts during his boxing career. Floyd has held championship belts in the Super Featherweight, Lightweight, Super Lightweight, Welterweight, and Super Welterweight divisions, on his way to a 49-0 record in his career that includes 26 KO’s (Knockouts). Which gives him the ammunition in his argument that he is “TBE” which stands for “The Best Ever”. The best ever argument is a very hard one to make because boxing has such a long and legendary history. Mayweather has definitely earned the right to be in the conversation but he is there with legends like; Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis, and Sugar Ray Robinson, among others. I personally like to refer to Floyd Mayweather as “TSE” which stands for the “The Smartest Ever” because of the way he outsmarted opponents in the ring and his business acumen outside of the ring. Floyd Mayweather also has a good argument to be referred to as “TMU” which stands for “The Most Underappreciated”.
Floyd Mayweather Jr and Roy Jones Jr have a lot in common. They are both boxing legends, both were trained by their fathers and had tumultuous relationships with them, and they both were robbed of Olympic gold medals. Roy’s robbery is the more infamous of the two but Floyd felt that same pain. Mayweather made sure he didn’t taste defeat again. “Pretty Boy Floyd” as his was called at that time, started off his professional career with a boom, going 17-0 with 11 knockouts. On October 3, 1998, Floyd got his first title shot against Genaro Hernandez for the WBC (World Boxing Council) Super Featherweight title, dominating him for eight rounds before the referee decided to stop it. Hernandez was no bum, he had a tremendous career with a record of (38-2-1). Mayweather would continue to defeat quality competition like Angel Manfredy, who finished his career, (43-8-1) with 32 KO’s, Carlo Gerena, who finished his career (38-6) with 30 KO’s, before going into a huge fight against Diego Corrales.
Floyd Mayweather then moved up to the lightweight division to challenge Jose Luis Castillo for his championship. This was the most difficult fight of Mayweather’s career by far. Castillo’s style gave Floyd some issues but the self proclaimed “Pretty Boy” was able to pull out the disputed decision. A lot of boxing fans still believe that Castillo won that fight till this day. No boxing fan with a substantial amount of boxing knowledge can dispute the rematch in which Mayweather used his blinding speed to get another unanimous decision over the great Castillo. Jose Luis Castillo ended his career (66-13-1) with 57 KO’s. Mayweather went on to take control of the lightweight division for the next few years, beating the likes of ; Victoriano Sosa (42-4-2) with 31 KO’s, Philip Ndou (37-5) with 34 KO’s, and Henry Bruseles (28-4-1) with 15 KO’s before going into a big time fight against Arturo Gatti.
Arturo Gatti was a warrior in the ring known his punching power and strong will. Mayweather promised to embarrass Gatti and delivered on his promise by hitting Gatti with blistering head and body blows for six rounds before the referee mercifully ended the fight. Mayweather won the Super Lightweight title that night. Gatti ended his career (40-9) with 31 KO’s.
Mayweather’s popularity and star was getting bigger and bigger as his piled up more and more names on his resume. Floyd’s skill gave him the opportunity to fight Oscar De La Hoya. Mayweather was no longer the “Pretty Boy” as the perception of him began to change and he became more flashy and flamboyant. Floyd talked a lot of trash leading up to the fight and rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
As always “Money” Mayweather backed up his trash talk and won a close fight over hall of famer Oscar De La Hoya. Oscar De La Hoya ended his career (39-6) with 30 KO’s. This fight was the highest grossing in boxing history at the time. After the De La Hoya fight every Floyd Mayweather fight was a spectacle and huge payday for “Money”.
Mayweather would go on to beat the previously undefeated Ricky Hatton by a eighth round TKO and then took a two year hiatus from the sport. Ricky Hatton ended his career (45-3) with 32 KO’s.
After Mayweather’s break, he would come back to beat Juan Manuel Marquez in a 12 round display of boxing excellence. This is the same Juan Manuel Marquez who fought Manny Pacquiao four times and literally put Pacquiao to sleep on the fourth occasion. Marquez finished his career (56-7-1) with 40 KO’s. Marquez was never knocked out during his career.
After beating Marquez, Mayweather would fight future hall of famer Shane Mosley. Mosley came ready to fight and hit Mayweather with two vicious right hands in the 2nd round. “Money” looked to be in trouble but recovered and adjusted to win the fight easily. Mosley is currently (49-10-1) with 41 KO’s, hopefully he retires soon.
Floyd “Money” Mayweather would continue to rack up victories and checks as he got a controversial knockout win over Victor Ortiz, then beat Miguel Cotto and Robert Guerrero by unanimous decision before facing the young lion primed to take him out, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
Alvarez was no match for Mayweather as Floyd made Canelo miss all match and countered him with hard right hands. Saul Alvarez is currently (47-1-1) with 33 KO’s. Alvarez is arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the sport now. After the Alvarez fight, Mayweather won two decisions over the hard-hitting Marcos Maidana, before entering the perceived “Fight of The Century” against Manny Pacquiao.
Mayweather dominated the legend in the long awaited bout. Pacquaio only won two or 3 rounds max. The fight did not live up to the hype but that was no fault of Mayweather’s as he threw more punches, landed more punches, and landed at a higher percentage. Pacquaio is a future hall of famer who is currently (58-6-2) with 38 KO’s. This was the highest grossing fight in history. Mayweather only fought once after Pacquaio, ending his career, by putting on a show against former champion Andre Berto.
Any other boxer with the history, resume, and skill set of Mayweather would be beloved but Mayweather tends to show off the benefits of his boxing skill as you see above. This rubs plenty of fans the wrong way and it makes people look for reasons to not accept his greatness. A lot of people don’t like Floyd Mayweather because of his history with women and of course domestic violence is not condoned but that is separate from his boxing career. Fans will say things like he didn’t fight anyone, even though he beat several current or future hall of famers, and over 20 champions. Mayweather’s detractors also say he didn’t fight, he ran, like dodging punches is against the rules. Other fans who dislike “Money” will say he only plays defense, which makes his fights boring. Did they forget that Mayweather has won several fights with strong offensive performances like when defeated; Arturo Gatti, Diego Corrales, Ricky Hatton, and Saul Alvarez?
Mayweather is also a promoting genius by creating the “Money” Mayweather persona, he made sure that people would turn in to see his fights. Boxing fans either hated or loved Mayweather, no one was or is indifferent about this man. Which is brilliant because all fans will tune in and pay to see Floyd Mayweather either win or lose depending on how they feel about him. Which has led to Mayweather being in the top three grossing fights of all time and four of the top ten. Mayweather found a way to make hundreds of millions dollars in a sport where the athletes are usually broke at the end. Even with his huge list of accomplishments, Floyd may never be beloved and that’s why he will go down as the most underappreciated boxer of all time.