Is Floyd Mayweather still number one?

floyd mayweather jr  photoBy Peter Broderick: A premature retirement in 2007 after a stellar career, turned out to just be a 2 year sabbatical for Floyd Mayweather jr. There is no doubt in my mind, (or most other people’s in fact) that he was the best pound for pound boxer on earth when he made his announcement to hang up his gloves. But today, with 2012 drawing to a close, 3 years after his come back and with as few as 4 more fights under his belt, can he still be called the best?

If so, what is it that puts him ahead of other boxers such as Nonito Donaire, Andre Ward, Sergio Martinez, Juan Manuel Marquez or Manny Pacquiao? Let’s analyze his career since his return to the ring.

Recent Activity: His first fight back from retirement was a relatively brave one, his opponent being Juan Manuel Marquez. This fight has question marks hanging over it though, as the fight took place at 144 lbs(Catchweight), which is only slightly under Mayweather’s optimal fight weight of 147 lbs (Welterweight). Only 18 months earlier Marquez was fighting at 130lbs. He looked uncomfortable at 140 lbs, coming in 2 lbs beneath the limit, with Mayweather coming in carrying 2 lbs too many, a transgression that cost him a financial penalty but payed dividends in the ring where Mayweather strolled to a UD victory using his considerable size advantage to bully the smaller fighter.

However, since this was his first fight back, he deserves credit for beating a world class fighter like Marquez. His next fight was against the game Shane Moseley, who to his credit put on a good show for a while, but after the first couple of rounds, where he managed to stun Mayweather, he faded, badly, the writing was on the wall for Moseley, he was a shadow of his former self and on the way down hill. Mayweather has a knack for finding fighters who are passed their best and putting them away (Incidentally, Mosley hasn’t won a fight since and is now retired). Mayweather then turned his sights on Victor Ortiz, who he knocked out while trying to apologize for an earlier headbutt on Floyd.

Mayweather reciprocated with a left hand then a straight right to close the show. I’m not condoning Mayweather for doing this, it might not have been sporting behavior but as he said himself “Protect yourself at all times”, he didn’t do anything illegal. Although he was winning the fight up until that point anyway, it wasn’t exactly a vintage performance and told us little about Mayweather’s ability on that particular night. Cotto came next and Mayweather comfortably beat him with an excellent display of all the skills in his locker. He looked almost impossible to hit, and you could never see Cotto getting into the fight at any point, Cotto though hadn’t been the same fighter after his devastating loss to Pacquiao in 2009 and has since been beaten by Austin Trout.

Ducking and Diving: So that’s 4 fights in 4 years. Mayweather famously dodged Cotto, Mosley and Margarito in their prime, he never fought Paul Williams or a whole host of other fighters who really looked like they could cause him trouble. Now he’s avoiding Pacquiao and has been for years. So he’s not fighting his best competition, and he’s only fighting once a year. His next fight will probably be against Robert Guerrero who I like but who has no chance against Mayweather.

They’re not in the same league, anyone who is in Mayweather’s league won’t be allowed to share the ring with him. Now compare this attitude to Nonito Donaire’s, who is hunting down all the elite boxers in his division and gunning them down. He’s had 11 fights in the time Mayweather had 4 and he’s trying to get fights with Yuriorkis Gamboa, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Abner Mares. These guys are all capable of beating Donaire and he knows that, but he wants to be a great, he wants to be the best. That’s why he’s fighting these guys. Andre Ward has got the same attitude and he’s already beaten all his competition, so has Sergio Martinez, Manny Pacquiao (Even offering Marquez a 4th fight when he could have avoided him having beaten him twice) Marquez too will fight anyone who stands in his way.

These are the real greats in boxing today and to be honest I’d rank them all ahead of Mayweather, because I know their ability. With regard to Mayweather there’s a certain amount of guess work because there’s so many fighters he’s dodged, even certain types of fighters you will never see him in the ring with. I like Floyd Mayweather and love watching him box, he’s probably the most skillful boxer I’ve ever seen and he’s one of the reasons I started watching boxing but his place at the top when he’s not fighting as much as he should is frustrating. He claims the top spot but won’t give anyone the opportunity to take it from him.

Losing isn’t everything: Pacquiao got KO’d by Marquez, but that was their 4th fight! When you keep fighting the best you’ll lose some fights, just like Ali lost, Sugar Ray Robinson lost, Sugar Ray Leonard lost. Who cares. It’s easy to be undefeated when you’re a world class boxer and you’re not fighting world class opposition. Imagine the Patriots could have decided to not play in the Super Bowl last year and still be considered the best, the sport wouldn’t be worth watching anymore, everyone would still think they were the best team in the world last year and the NY Giants would have one less trophy in their cabinet.

It would defeat the purpose of football because the competitive spirit would have been removed from the game. I feel the same about boxing. I’m a fan of boxing, and I don’t mind if people don’t want to fight each other for any reason, it’s a dangerous game. But if Mayweather won’t try to beat the best. Don’t tell me he is the best. Tell me he could be the best, or when he retires tell me he could’ve been the best. You can’t call him the best, because he hasn’t fought the best. Not yet. He still has time but the clock is ticking.



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