By James Brown: This question has been thrown around many times in the past. Who can lay legitimate claim to calling themselves the best boxer of this generation? There are a few names that may come to mind when asked this question such as: Vitali and Wladmir Klitschko, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, just to name a few. This article is completely my own opinion but I will give supporting facts for why all these guys have a reason to think that they are the best. Who I personally think is the best of this generation may surprise you.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. -I am not a Floyd hater or a Floyd activist I would like to let that be known right away. Floyd Jr. is the most talented boxer to come around in years and makes his fights look so incredibly easy without taking much damage. He has been criticized for “running” in his fights but that is completely absurd. The name of the game is boxing and it is a science, Floyd is a master of beating someone without taking much damage and most people in the public love to see blood and guts displayed by a man that calls himself the best ever. Floyd systematically picks his opponents apart. Some of his notable wins include: Jesus Chavez, Genaro Hernandez, Diego Coralles, Jose Luis Castillo, Zab Judah, Auturo Gatti, Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton, and Oscar De la Hoya. He is a champion in 5 weight classes and possesses a spotless record of 41-0. The problem is unless you are an avid boxing fans a lot of his opponents will probably not be known to you. Fighters like Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao, Paul Williams, or Antonio Margarito are not listed as fighters Floyd has faced. I am not going to get into politics of why the fights didn’t happen, if Floyd ducked fighters or what. I am just here to state the facts. Until Floyd Mayweather Jr. can fight and beat Manny Pacquiao or even a Sergio Martinez (whom he has showed interest in facing) he will not be the undisputed best fighter of his generation. Fighters that gain the honor of being the best of a generation fought everyone and beat everyone whether it was in a trilogy or just a rematch (Ali, Robinson, Leonard, and so on).
Manny Pacquiao – Say what you will about Manny Pacquiao’s promoter carefully picking the right opponents for him or not, at the end of the day Manny Pacquiao is an amazing athlete. Manny is a joy to watch, he has blazing speed and power and has the record of being a champion in 8 different weight classes. This particular feat is unheard of in the sport of boxing. Many people will argue that he is the best of the generation simply based on the 8 titles. Manny Pacquiao’s notable wins include: Marco Antonio Barrera, Eric Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito. The way that Pacquiao beat these guys was so incredibly lopsided in a few fights you feared for the health of the other fighter. Manny is a machine that is relentless in his combo attack and does not tire no matter how many punches he throws. The biggest knock on Manny is the fact that he avoided a 3rd fight with Juan Marquez, the counterpuncher that fought Manny to a draw in their first fight and lost a controversial decision in the second. In my eyes there is nothing wrong with that. The best of all time Ray Robinson didn’t give Carmen Basillio a third fight, Leonard didn’t give Hearns a third fight and so on. The thing stopping Manny from being the undisputed best of the generation is the fact that he hasn’t fought and beat Floyd Jr., doing this would have to cement his legacy as the best of this generation.
Vitali Klitschko – Dr. Iron Fist is an amazing fighter and warrior. You may not be too highly of him because he makes every fight look so easy and hasn’t faced the hardest competition. The reason this doesn’t hinder him in my eyes is because there is no stiff competition for him. The heavyweight division is dead and the only fighter that would make for a good show would be his brother Wladmir. I have a younger brother and we both plan to box professionally, personally me and my brother have no problem fighting each other if we had to but I cannot blame the Klitschkos at all for their decision. With that said, Vitali beat Lennox Lewis into retirement, the only reason he lsot the fight was because of a horrible cut otherwise the fight would’ve been his for sure. He has the chin of granite, a great jab, and cuts off the ring amazingly. His notable wins include: Sam Peter, Shannon Briggs, and Cris Arreola. The problem is none of these fighters really stood a chance at any point and everyone knew that. Vitali needs a great heavyweight to push him and allow him to showcase all of his skills to the max in order to be considered the best of this generation. The same can be said for his brother minus fighting Lennox Lewis. I personally feel if Vitali and Wlad ever did tangle Vitali would beat him just as he does everyone else.
So the question is, who do I feel is the best fighter of this generation and the answer is: Bernard “the executioner” Hopkins. Bernard Hopkins held the middleweight title longer than any middleweight title holder. He is included in this generation because the man just won’t go away, he continues to defy to laws of age and turns back the clock every time he steps into the ring. He has fought every top fighter of his generation with the exception of James Toney at middleweight. His notable wins include: Glen Johnson, Felix Trinidad (TKO), Oscar De La Hoya (KO), Antonio Tarver, Kelly Pavlik, Roy Jones and recently fought to a draw with the Light Heavyweight Champion Jean Pascal. What makes Hopkins the best fighter of this generation was he fought everyone win or lose you can’t question his heart and willingness to be the best he can be. I personally believe he even beat Joe Calzaghe, whom was given a SD win against Hopkins. Bernard Hopkins will be turning 46 this year and still continues to battle the best at the height of their careers. You can say he has ducked Chad Dawson but beign over 40 years old he doesn’t need to call out anyone. IF Bernard Hopkins was retired when Floyd and Manny came to the limelight then this entire article would be different. You all may not agree with my choice for the best of this generation but you can’t argue the record of Hopkins. Being the best fighter of a generation is not just about wins or losses, it’s about character as well. Some may knock Hopkins for being a dirty fighter but Roberto Duran is considered one of the best fighters of all time and he was extremely dirty. When it is all said and done few fighters in any generation would’ve done the things that Hopkins has anc still compete at the level that he is. In my personal opinion, until we settle a fight between Manny and Floyd then Bernard Hopkins will go down as the best fighter of this generation.