Will Mayweathers Legacy Survive Like Sugar Ray Robinson’s?
By Edgar Solorzano: Current pound for pound king Floyd “Money” Mayweather is one of the most gifted fighters in the sport of boxing. Many believe he just runs for a great number of rounds to outpoint fighters. Only problem, in the sport of boxing it is nearly impossible to outpoint a fighter just by running. Mayweather has gained power since his 2003 fight against Victoriano Sosa. A fight that Sosa believed he won, even though he only connected 14% of his punches while Mayweather connected 55%.
Floyd earned $2.8 million for his fight against Sosa, yes, that is still more than what Maidana earned for his biggest fight in his boxing career. Only in the sport of boxing can a construction worker build a giant building and earn less if the public is not familiar with his name. Ten years later, Floyd has managed to earn millions of dollars for a single fight, far more than $2.8 million.
Mayweather earned all his success and is one of the most skillful fighters in history. The De La Hoya fight made him a bigger star. To clear things up, Mayweather never ducked De La Hoya for the rematch. De La Hoya did not want to give Floyd a rematch. Ex-Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaeffer stressed back in 2007, “Oscar thinks Mayweather is a great fighter and it was a great promotion. It’s not like he doesn’t deserve a rematch or anything like that. It’s more like been there done that, move on. What the ‘move on’ part means I don’t know. It’s not the time to discuss it. When he wants to he will come and talk to me. There is not an urgency. We all know that Oscar is not going to fight again in 2007.” This could have been a move to make a Mayweather-Mosley fight, which could have been the second biggest money fight next to De La Hoya’s. The fight never took place, not until 2010. Floyd Mayweather is a sharp businessman but is he really the best ever? Has he accomplished goals that are difficult to break? The ugly truth is Pay-Per-View records have nothing to do with a boxing legacy when looking at fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammad Ali, and Sugar Ray Robinson. The Pacquiao fight mess could go either way, no one exactly knows who to blame. Many believe Floyd Mayweather is ducking and many believe Bob Arum is keeping Pacquiao away from Floyd.
Let’s take a look at “The Best Ever” boxing legacy, without the money blocking the truth. Floyd Mayweather had an impressive amateur record of 84 victories and 6 defeats. Mayweather was the 1993 National Golden Gloves Light Flyweight Champion, 1994 National Golden Gloves Flyweight Champion, 1995 USA Amateur Featherweight Champion, 1995 National Police Athletic League Featherweight Champion, and 1996 National Golden Gloves Featherweight Champion. He also earned a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics; another great accomplishment in Floyds amateur career.
Another impressive fighter by the name of Sugar Ray Robinson also had an incredible amateur background. In fact, one that is nearly impossible to duplicate. Robinson’s legacy has struggled against father time. Not many fans know about him. Sure people know who he is, they know he was one of the greats. However; many do not know what he accomplished. The truth hurts; the Michael Jordan of boxing is lost in the history books.
Sugar Ray Robinson’s amateur record was 85-0, with 40 first round knockouts. Robinson won the 1939 Golden Gloves Title as a featherweight, 126-pounds. The following year, he won the lightweight title at 135-pounds. After winning these titles, Robinson turned pro. His first professional fight was at Madison Square Gardens, a rare venue for a pro debut. Robinson was special and the whole boxing world knew it. Madison Square Garden was not a venue for rookies, but Robinson was no rookie. He was respected before his first pro fight. Robinson went undefeated for his first 40 fights. Sugar Ray was too good that he began to run out of opponents in the welterweight division early in his career. A problem that Mayweather never experienced. Robinson had to move up to middleweight to look for new blood. That’s when he met against Jake La Motta, a fearless middleweight with the heart of a lion.
The first fight took place in late 1942 in New York City. Robinson won the 10 round battle by Unanimous Decision. Robinson was offered a rematch and La Motta pulled the upset in Detroit. La Motta may have had a 20-pound weight advantage in that fight. Two weeks after losing to La Motta, Robinson took a tune up fight against Jackie Wilson and was victorious. One week after, Robinson met with La Motta for the third time and managed to pull off the victory. Sugar Ray Robinson accomplished a big chunk of his legacy in 21 days. Fighting three times within 21 days is impressive. Just imagine Floyd Mayweather fighting Miguel Cotto at 154-pounds, then fighting a tune-up against Amir Khan to prepare for another battle against Cotto in just three weeks. It sounds surreal in the modern world of boxing.
It is quite difficult to say Floyd Mayweather is the best ever when Robinson went on a 90 fight-winning streak after his first loss to La Motta. From 1943 to 1951, he was unstoppable. However; it wasn’t the long winning-streaks that made Robinson a star, it was the way he reacted to a loss. Robinson never lost twice to the same man; not until he was 40-years old. The way Robinson hit the canvas and came back to earn the victory made him a loved champion. It made him special; he always found a way not to lose again to the same man.
It is unfortunate that Robinson grew up in a tough era when technology was not well developed, and when racism was stronger than ever. It is a tragedy that his greatest battles were not filmed. When Ray Robinson was considered the best welterweight in the world, he couldn’t get a shot. People were afraid he would have darkened the division. He could have been a black fighter that could demolish all the white fighters, and that’s not really what would have sold a lot of tickets according to promoters in that negative era.
Eventually the public pressure was big enough, and Robinson was allowed to fight Tommy Bell for the vacant title. Robinson was knocked down in the fight against Bell, but Robinson was able to get up and manage to pull off the victory and became the welterweight champion. It took him six years to become the welterweight champion. The public pressure sure may have helped Robinson face the best, however; it is the opposite in today’s era. The public pressure is not good enough to force a Mayweather-pacquiao battle.
Robinson’s greatest revenge was against Randy Turpin, a fighter that pulled the upset by outpointing Robinson in 15 rounds in London. Ray promised he would bring the belt back to America. On the rematch, both fighters were trading punches and getting hit, the referee walked over to Rays corner in the 9th round and told Ray he was going to stop the fight due to his cut on his eye. Robinson said, “Give me one more round!” then moments later told his corner “Now it’s do or die.” He managed to knock out Turpin in the 10th round.
This is three-fourths of Robinson’s legacy. His legacy is too big for one article, not going to mention the time he could have been the Light-Heavyweight champion of the world. He fought in the ring on the hottest night in New York; the temperature in the ring was 105 degrees under those big stage lights. The referee collapsed in the 10th round due to the heat and Robinson couldn’t come out of the 14th round due to the heat. He was out of energy; he had lost the battle to the terrible heat. Robinson was winning the fight against a man who outweighed him by nearly 20-pounds.
Is Floyd Mayweather really the best ever? The fight-fans have to respect Mayweathers skills. I could say he is the most athletic-gifted fighter in history, but did he use those skills to create a legacy that can’t be duplicated in the ring? Robinson sure did take advantage, till this day, I cannot name one fighter that can duplicate the record of 120-1.
Even Muhammad Ali wore the gray sweats, white shirt and gray sleeveless shirt over, during training camps. He wanted to be like Robinson, he even said, “Look, this is how Robinson did it,” while shadowboxing. Muhammad Ali is the heavyweight Sugar Ray Robinson, with the help of technology and his great leadership his legacy is greater than ever.
Switch Floyd Mayweather and Ray Robinson’s eras; we would have had a Robinson-Mosley and Robinson-Cotto fight in 2008, Pacquiao-Robinson fight in 2009, and a Canelo fight at 154-pounds. Possibly a Robinson-Martinez fight after the Paul Williams knockout. Robinson was that type of fighter. He wanted to compete against the best. However; Mayweather in 1942 may have never fought Jake La Motta right away in the middleweight division, he may have never fought La Motta more than once. Most importantly, there probably wouldn’t be a Muhammad Ali. Ali was greatly influenced by Sugar Ray Robinson.
The tragic truth is Floyd Mayweather was likely capable of accomplishing all those fights at the right times but never pushed to do the impossible. His bank account grew but his legacy remained the same. Sugar Ray Robinson is the real TBE, no fighter has managed to duplicate what he accomplished in the ring.
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