Floyd Mayweather – Undefeated, But Definitely Beatable
By Anthony Mason: Due to his undefeated record, Mayweather is perceived as untouchable, and one of the best boxers of all time. That is false. Putting him in the top 50 would be extremely generous. He is undefeated, and although he is a good boxer, he is not undefeated because he is such a great boxer. He is undefeated because of the dearth of quality in his opposition. He is a all-time great businessman in the sport, but not when it comes to what happens inside the ring.
Although Mayweather has skills, his struggles against the likes of Maidana and Castillo, two solid but far from elite fighters, show that he is not the invincible boxer he is made out to be. To further prove what Maidana and Castillo did, it would be interesting to analyze which boxers in history would be able to beat Mayweather, and how. I decided to assemble a list of fighters from 126 all the way up to 160, all of whom would show that Mayweather is simply human.
I can already hear Mayweather supporters exclaiming that it is unfair to include boxers at 160, but they are mistaken. Roberto Duran (135-160), Ray Robinson (135-175), Henry Armstrong (126-160), and others, started at the same weight as Floyd and fought at higher weights than him. Floyd’s supporters want to put him in the category of the aforementioned boxers? Well, if that’s what they want, they need to honestly assess how he would do against boxers of similar size. I definitely don’t expect to Floyd to fight at 160, and he shouldn’t, because he is not good enough like Duran, Robinson, and Armstrong were.
It is true that great boxers like Hagler did not move up in weight at all, but I don’t recall Mayweather fighting in a division with the likes of Duran, Leonard, Hearns, and Hamsho. And yes, a prime Hamsho is a far more credible win than washed up versions of De La Hoya, Mosley, and Cotto. If Mayweather stayed in only one or two weight classes and beat Hagler’s level of competition, there would be no denying that he had a great career.
Winning paper titles in several weight classes, however, against the likes of Gatti, Ortiz, Guerrero, and Canelo is not anywhere near as impressive as Hagler’s high level of dominance in one weight class. People are going to say that I cannot blame Mayweather for fighting in a weaker era, since that is not his fault. Well, I definitely can’t give him high praises for being in a weak era, either.
Now, it is time to examine several boxers that would have defeated Mayweather. This list names several different boxers, and includes the range of weight classes at which these boxers would have defeated Mayweather. There are some men left off of the list due to lack of footage or resources to describe their styles or careers, but there is no doubt that the men left off of the list are far greater as pound for pound fighters – such as Joe Gans, Tiger Flowers, Young Corbet III, and more. Just because there is not enough resources to gather information about such fighters, and their subsequent exclusion from the following list, does not mean they are not more accomplished pound-for-pound fighters, nor does it mean that they could not beat Floyd, especially considering who the first fighter on the list is.
1) Jose Luis Castillo (135) – Mayweather’s shoulder in the first match is no excuse. Many fighters have put on great performances despite broken hands (Roy Jones), heart conditions (Holyfield), and torn shoulder ligaments (Holyfield). On top of that, Mayweather built a lead in the first half of the fight, and he is supposed to be the master of making adjustments. For him to blow that kind of lead and show an inability to adjust against someone like Castillo speaks volumes. If Castillo can crush him at in-fighting, that speaks volumes about how far beneath the truly great level Mayweather is.
2) Willie Pep (130) – outside of a slim edge in speed, there is absolutely nothing that Floyd can do better than Pep. Mayweather struggled with Castillo and Maidana. Pep struggled with Sandy Saddler (and still beat him once), a much better pressure fighter than anyone Mayweather fought. There is nothing Mayweather has to offer.
3) Sandy Saddler (130-135) – Saddler defeated the slickest and best defensive boxer of all time, 3 out of 4 times. Mayweather, as good as he is, is nowhere near as good defensively as Pep. Mayweather lost to Castillo, and barely pulled out a win against Maidana, far inferior pressure fighters than Saddler. You do the math.
4) Sammy Angott (130-135) – Angott took away Willie Pep’s zero, and we already know Pep does everything better than Mayweather, outside of hand speed. If Angott defeated a boxer with a vastly superior defensive style, Mayweather by comparison would be child’s play.
5) Pernell Whitaker (130-154) – like Pep, Pernell does everything better than Floyd outside of a slim disadvantage in hand speed. As an example, a prime Floyd Mayweather lost 4 rounds fight against a shot and completely past prime De La Hoya – 1 legitimate win in his last 4 fights.
A shot and completely past prime Whitaker, however, was robbed against an undefeated and near-prime De La Hoya, and realistically lost no more than 4 rounds. Mayweather in his prime performed as well as Whitaker past his prime, even though Mayweather was fighting the much worse version of De La Hoya. Whitaker’s jab would give Floyd problems, just like a washed up Oscar’s jab did, and his superior defense gives him the edge.
6) Ike Williams (135-154) – he had an awkward style, but his combination of power, speed, and pressure, would be terrible for Mayweather. Picture the Maidana fight but a couple thousand times worse for Mayweather. Some will say, “Oh, Williams was too flatfooted.” Well, Maidana didn’t have the fanciest feet in the world either, and his inside game was nowhere near Ike’s level. Nor did Maidana throw from the angles that Williams did.
7) Henry Armstrong (126-160) – He is perhaps the best pressure fighter and inside fighter of all time. Mayweather stands no chance considering that Castillo and Maidana have nowhere near Armstrong’s endurance or inside game, and the fact that Armstrong, at the same weights as Maywether, fought men much bigger than himself.
8) Sam Langford (135-160) – For those claiming Langford’s era was full of obsolete styles, that wouldn’t be the case if Dempsey and Louis, men who are always given high praises upon for their skill (even by modern fighters), spoke so highly of him. I don’t see Mayweather being able to fight heavyweights like Langford did. Put Mayweather in with Jack Johnson and he would need a miracle to survive the first round. For a lightweight to be able to beat up heavyweights, and for men like Dempsey to openly state they would not fight men like Langford, is more than enough to see that Mayweather is not on Langford’s level.
9) Roberto Duran (135-160) – Duran, despite having a size disadvantage, easily defeated a prime and undefeated Sugar Ray Leonard. Floyd’s speed is not going to be a problem for Duran, since Leonard was even faster. And no, Duran is not going to be easy for Floyd to hit. Ray Leonard specifically stated that Duran was deceptively elusive, and even on the inside Leonard was often unable to hit Duran. Like Ike Williams, picture Maidana/Castillo vs Mayweather, only several thousand times worse.
10) Sugar Ray Robinson (135-160) – Robinson does everything better than Mayweather outside of defense. Mayweather has nothing to offer against the greatest of all time. The only man who defeated Robinson in his prime was a much bigger Jake Lamotta, who fights with a style that Mayweather will never come close to emulating. Robinson defeated slick boxers like Gavilan, and Mayweather will not be any different.
11) Aaron Pryor (140) – Again, after what Castillo and Maidana did to Mayweather it’s hard to see how he can handle Pryor, who has a much more deadly version of both fighters’ styles. Pryor can keep up a very high pace for an entire fight and is much more highly skilled than the men who defeated and came close to beating Mayweather.
12) Meldrick Taylor (140) – This is one of the few listed matchups where Mayweather actually has a chance. Taylor is not Zab Judah, so he is not going to gas in the same manner that Judah did against Mayweather. Mayweather had problems with Judah’s speed, and Judah is not anywhere near the skill level of Taylor, cannot fight on the inside, and cannot keep up a pace for 12 rounds like Taylor could. The problems Mayweather had with a 4-round boxer in Zab Judah and in Maidana would all be present in Meldrick Taylor. Just ask Chavez if Taylor can pressure on the inside.
13) Wilfred Benitez (140-154) – Mayweather has a chance in this fight, but a prime, focused Benitez would be more favored to win. Benitez at his short peak was on the same level as Mayweather defensively, and had a much more impressive list of wins over the likes of Palomino and Duran. The men who troubled Benitez at his peak were Ray Leonard, Hearns, and Hamsho. The men who troubled Mayweather are far from that level.
14) Kid Gavilan (147) – Gavilan had a very unorthodox style, but it worked as he defeated the likes of Ike Williams, Carmen Basilio, and Beau Jack. His speed, ability to mix it up, combined with his slick style would be enough to pull off a win. He threw from many more angles than Maidana, with greater speed, and was a defensive master. If Maidana can win 4-5 rounds against Mayweather coming off of one of his best performances, Gavilan would not have an issue.
15) Jose Napoles (147) – Excellent timing, defense, and counterpunching, and he could mix it up very well. Overall he had more tools than Mayweather, fought and beat much tougher competition, and Mayweather has nothing to offer him.
16) Vernon Forrest (147-154) – Pound for pound Mayweather may be higher, but head to head Forrest is a terrible matchup. When he isn’t fighting extremely weak competition, Mayweather can only win if he boxes from the outside (against past prime De La Hoya and Cotto – his best moments came from the outside, and he was hit much more often when he was forced to box in close range).
Trying to beat a prime Forrest from the outside with a huge size disadvantage is a guaranteed loss. To beat a prime Forrest, one needs to apply pressure like Mayorga, and Mayweather is not capable of that. He is not going to solve a prime Forrest’s jab when a washed up De La Hoya’s jab gave him problems.
17) Fritzie Zivic (147-160) – If Mayweather thought Maidana fought rough and dirty, he would be in for a huge shock against an even higher skilled and rougher fighter in Zivic. Not only that, but Zivic has fought and beaten much higher caliber opponents than Mayweather.
18) Emile Griffith (147-160) – A prime Emile’s jab is far more dangerous than the washed up De La Hoya jab that troubled Mayweather, his inside game is better than Cotto, Maidana, Castillo, all of whom bothered him badly on the inside, and once Mayweather is on the ropes, Griffith would capitalize even more on what Castillo, Cotto, Oscar, and Maidana did to him.
19) Tommy Hearns (147-160) – Hearns does everything that Forrest does, only better. Speed will not trouble Hearns, since his jab is the perfect tool to neutralize it. And Hearns is no slowpoke, either. A great pressure fighter and inside fighter in Duran had no chance to get inside of Hearns’ jab, so there is no reason to think Mayweather will get on the inside. The only way to beat Hearns is to pressure him with a large volume of punches like Leonard (who needed a long 14 rounds to mount a major comeback) and Hagler did, or to be a much bigger fighter like Barkley to take away Hearn’s reach and jab advantage. Mayweather has none of those tools or advantages. There is no situation against Hearns that benefits Floyd .
20) Ray Leonard (147-160) – Some are going to point to Ray Leonard’s brief struggles against Mayweather Sr., but that was only Leonard’s 14th fight, and he still ended up knocking him out. That comparison does not make sense. Ray Leonard defeated a master defensive wizard in Benitez, and it is not hard to believe that Leonard with faster hands, more power, high workrate, and greater skill will not defeat Mayweather. Floyds’s struggles with Judah, washed up Oscar, and Maidana would all be present in Leonard compounded with all of Leonard’s other superior skills.
21) Paul Williams (147-160) – Williams would win similar to why Vernon Forrest would win, although he was not as good with his jab as Forrest. There’s a reason Mayweather chose to go for big money fights instead of improving his resume by taking the challenge of Williams when he had the opportunity.
Now, I know that people are going to criticize the following fighters on the basis of size. Before people do that, they need to realize that if Mayweather is as good as people think he is, he should be able to stand up to the top guys from 154-160 regardless. If Armstrong jumped from 126 to beat men at 160, Duran from 135 to 160, etc., then Floyd would need to show that same capability. The fact that people are going to label these following selections as unfair matchups only further prove that Mayweather is not as good as people think, and it shows his dearth of quality wins at 154. If he was as good as people think, then there would not be any objection, on the basis of size, to the inclusion of the following names.
22) Terry Norris (154) – This is not an unfair matchup because of Norris’ size. It is an unfair matchup because there is nothing Mayweather could do. If Mayweather is content with fighting past prime De La Hoya and Cotto at 154, matching him up with Norris at 154 is not a stretch. Mayweather is supposed to be on par with the greats when it comes to skill, but that is obviously not the case, because he doesn’t have anything to deal with Norris’ combination of size, speed, and power.
23) Marvin Hagler (154-160) – Hagler weighed in at only 157 lbs vs Duran, so perhaps he could have made it to 154 in his earlier days. A prime Hagler has everything to deal with Mayweather. Mayweather can only beat B-class or formerly elite washed up opponents if he is on the outside (again, Castillo, Maidana, washed up Cotto/Oscar, all gave him problems in close range). Well, Thomas Hearns was even better from the outside than Mayweather, and we saw what Hagler did to him. Hearns had a huge speed advantage, but that didn’t stop Hagler, so Mayweather’s speed isn’t going to be a factor when Hagler is crowding him.
Ray Leonard’s speed did trouble Hagler, but only after Hagler slowed down after the Hamsho and Mugabi fights. Even so, with more size and speed than Floyd, Leonard needed a decision that could have gone either way to beat Hagler. All of Mayweather’s problems with Cotto, Maidana, Oscar, and Castillo are present in Hagler, compounded with his invincible chin, greater skill, and supreme conditioning, so there is no hope for him.
24) Mike McCallum (154-160) – Hey, if people want to compare Floyd to the best, then he should be able to stand up against the best guys at 154. The fact that people will criticize the inclusion of McCallum on the basis of his size only proves Mayweather’s dearth of quality wins at 154, and that even his supporters realize he is nowhere near the great he is perceived to be if he has nothing to offer against McCallum. McCallum’s jab alone is enough to defeat Mayweather, especially seeing how a past prime Oscar’s jab troubled Floyd.
25) Roy Jones Jr (154-160) – He’s faster, slicker, he throws from all angles, hits hard, and had no problem with master defensive boxers like Toney and Hopkins.
26) Winky Wright (154-160) – His jab alone will be enough to win the fight. Winky will beat Mayweather on the same basis as Forrest. Again, look at how a shot Oscar’s jab troubled Floyd.
27) Sergio Martinez (154-160) – Forget what you saw against Cotto. In his prime, he has speed, power, and size to trouble Mayweather. The smaller Oscar had speed and not as much power as Sergio, and even past his best gave Mayweather huge problems. Floyd has a chance, but not much.
28) Iran Barkley (160) – Duran started at 135, came up to 160, and defeated Barkley. Could Mayweather do that? Nope. And because people will label a matchup with Barkley as unfair, due to his size, it shows that Mayweather is not as great a weight climber as people think. Duran did it. Why couldn’t Floyd fight a legit opponent in his prime even at 154? It’s because he’s not good enough. A legit, prime opponent at 160 is out of the question.
29) Bernard Hopkins (160) – Hopkins fights dirty, he is a great counterpuncher, he makes fast boxers slow down to his own pace, even on the outside Mayweather doesn’t have an advantage, and Bernard has an inside game and great jab – and both trouble Mayweather greatly.
Basically, any legitimate middleweight would crush Mayweather. Greb, Olson, Turpin, Benvenuti, Tiger, Lamotta, Toney, Monzon, Cerdan, Burley, Flowers, and more would all defeat Mayweather at 160. Even the unproven Golovkin would defeat Mayweather from 154 go 160. If Floyd was who he is made out to be, he would be good enough to beat quality opponents in their prime from 154 to 160. Instead, he takes on a still-unproven Canelo at 152, a washed up Cotto, and a washed up Oscar De La Hoya who had only legitimately won one of his last four fights.
Mayweather himself knows he is not the greatest ever – it is all just a marketing ploy. Even so, it is incredibly disrespectful and false for him to have claimed he is greater than the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson, even if he is just selling tickets. Why doesn’t he just let the late, great, veterans live? He should realize that he is only amongst the most successful businessmen in boxing, not amongst the greatest boxers.
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