Mayweather legacy will be tainted
By John F. McKenna (McJack): In this writer’s opinion World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (42-0, 26 KO’s) is the elite fighter of this generation. His defensive skills are perhaps equal to any fighter of any generation. It is also probable that he would have been competitive to the past greats of the squared circle in any era.
The one drawback that may prevent Floyd from being compared to the super great fighters of the past such as such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Benny Leonard, Harry Grebb, Henry Armstrong, Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali is that “Money” Mayweather has been hesitant to test himself against the very top fighters of the current era.
That is not to suggest that Floyd would not have succeeded in beating the current crop of top fighters. But for a fighter of any era to be compared to the greats of previous eras, he must be willing to risk the danger of losing. The one area where Mayweather comes up short is that he has not tested himself against all comers.
When the great Joe Louis took the heavyweight crown from Jimmy Braddock, AKA “The Cinderella Man” in 1937 he said that he would be a fighting champion. “Bomber” Joe kept his word by defending his title a record 25 times. Another great from the late 1930’s and 1940’s Henry Armstrong fought all the great fighters of his era and is the only fighter in history to hold three titles simultaneously. “Homicide Hank” held the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight titles at the same time in an era when there were only eight divisions.
Harry Grebb and Benny Leonard are considered by boxing historians to be great champions and were not reluctant to test their skills against the very best fighters of their era. Muhammad Ali was willing to take on George Foreman when no one, not even his own handlers thought he could win. But Ali told people he could win, believed in himself and pulled it off.
Being a great fighter is more than having the skill to be a great fighter. It is that intangible thing of having the belief and courage to put oneself out there against the best. Fighting once every year or year and a half while he was in his prime will not endear Floyd Mayweather Jr. to future boxing historians.
If Mayweather were to land a fight with and defeat the other great fighter of his generation, WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KO’s) it would go a long way towards securing Floyd’s legacy when comparing him to the all time greats. One must keep in mind that when analyzing the all time great fighters thirty years from now the emotions of current boxing fans will not be a factor.
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