Is Mayweather Jr. unbeatable?
By Adam Foy: Floyd Mayweather Jr. would have us believe he is the finest pugilist this world has ever seen. His aim is, and has always been, to leave behind a legacy of greatness that is beyond any sensible argument. Now, at 38 years of age, every fight is a statement for Mayweather, a box ticked, an exclamation mark on a dazzling career.
The accusations that tend to be leveled at great fighters can’t really be leveled at Floyd; from Super-featherweight to Super-welterweight he has convincingly defeated every fighter of note his generation has to offer, re-matching any close decisions and stamping out any doubts as to his superiority.
Neither can it be said to be a weak generation, his record boasts names such as Castillo, Gatti, De La Hoya, Marquez, Cotto and Pacquiao, to leave out many. These are fighters who would have been competitive in any generation you care to choose and most have struggled to lay a glove on Floyd Mayweather jr. Whether we like it or not his legacy is cemented and he stands amongst the very best.
There are many pundits and so-called purists who will tell you that Mayweather would not last long against the likes of Robinson, Leonard or Hearns, but they do not tell you how this would be achieved. Even for fighters with names as shiny as theirs the Rubik’s cube would still have to be solved, and Floyd is a true master in the art of ‘Hit and not get hit’.
When it comes to that, Mayweather has taken ‘Defense’ in Boxing to new levels. Of course, he has a unique advantage over Robinson & co, he can steal from them, but they can’t steal from him. He sits atop the evolution of the sport and has studied the very best to develop a style that is uniquely his own. Floyd’s understanding of the moment, coupled with his outstanding natural attributes, such as vision and reflexes, allow him to adapt to his opponents and predict their attacks as the fight progresses. This is a skill possessed by very few, even amongst the very best, and it is the main reason that no blueprint exists to defeat him.
And so, naturally, we tune in in our millions to see Mayweather fight. Obviously to see him display his rare ability at the highest level on the biggest stage, right? It’s because we wish to marvel at his skill and bask in his glow, surely? Not really, well, not at all. We tune in, in our millions, in the hope of seeing that self-satisfied smirk wiped from his smug face, in the fervent hope that he will end proceedings face down and insensible. This is mainly due to his out of ring persona, which has inspired the kind of loathing normally reserved for fictional characters, like Joffrey in Game of Thrones. His image is that of a self-centered man who places high value on attainment and material possessions, who flaunts his wealth without seeming to respect it. Add to this the type of arrogance found in many top athletes, as well as a history of domestic abuse against women, and you have the perfect villain. Unfortunately for many of us Floyd doesn’t seem to have read the script, a villain of this magnitude needs his comeuppance, but Mayweather seems unbeatable and in no mood to accommodate us.
So, is he? …Unbeatable?
I would like to think not, but with Floyd announcing that he will retire before the end of the year, time is running out. To my mind there is only one real choice for his last opponent and that is Amir Khan. Whether Amir deserves an opportunity of this magnitude after two years of low risk fights is up for debate, but he is the only fighter with the particular set of attributes needed to compete with Mayweather. Floyd relies heavily on his reactions, and the fact that he sees his opponents’ movements early. Khan has explosive speed and possibly the fastest hands in boxing, pound for pound. Floyd’s speed of foot means he can be out of danger before his opponent is in position. Khan’s tiptoe style of moving allows him to advance and change direction quickly. Mayweather’s technical defense is a scientific masterpiece, based on millisecond calculations and instincts honed over a lifetime, the only way to way break it down is to overwhelm it or enter the code. Khan is as good a combination puncher as anyone currently in the sport; he also has a great engine and can keep up a high work rate for 12 rounds.
Of course there are things that count against Amir. The fact that Mayweather specializes in breaking down his opponent’s rhythm, and Khan is, at heart, a rhythm fighter. And the chin, always with the chin! Floyd is not the biggest puncher but he is a clean puncher and maybe he is capable of stopping Khan, but I don’t see why that should count against him getting the fight. He may be ‘chinny’ but Khan has heart and will fight till he’s out, and this just makes for more drama in an already intriguing fight in prospect.
Many of the more educated fans had lost interest by the time the Pacquaio v Mayweather was signed, but then got excited about it anyway, and by fight night were as hyped up as everyone else, and as deflated come the final bell. I believe Khan would be one of the biggest tests of Mayweather’s career should he choose that option, and he would deserve credit for taking it. Mayweather v Khan is fight that deserves a bandwagon building and as many people jumping on it as possible.
Many bemoan the lack of entertainment in Mayweather fights, so let’s see him in there with one of this generations most exciting fighters. Most Mayweather opponents don’t really seem to believe they can win. Khan believes it fervently, and that, at least, is a good place to start.
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