LAS VEGAS, NEVADA. The man who calls himself “The Best Ever” walked in a boxing ring early Sunday...
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA. The man who calls himself “The Best Ever” walked in a boxing ring early Sunday morning in what he says would be his last fight of an astonishingly brilliant career.
49 fights 49 victories and an unblemished record equaling the hallowed mark of legendary heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano.
Floyd Mayweather Jnr would go down as the best fighter of his generation without a doubt. He dismantled Andre Berto by unanimous decision much like he did with Manny Pacquiao earlier in May. The nature of the fight however gave us a glimpse into why according to many lovers of the sport; he would never be remembered as “The Best Ever”.
Many believed going to into his supposed final bout, he would look for the knockout, engage more and be aggressive. But Mayweather was relying on his brilliant defense moved and toyed with Berto while picking him apart.
Many fans want something worth paying for, which is why they were very aggrieved after the Pacquiao fight.
They want blood; they want action, knockouts, burst lips, broken noses and swollen eye sockets. But a person with the athletic ability of Mayweather, he sees no reason to make it look hard.
Said Mayweather himself “I think if my fights were tougher, if I had to struggle to win, maybe then I would get the credit I deserve. Because I make it look easy, I don’t get the credit”.
For some fans his attitude outside the ring exudes pride and non-affection for the sport. They rely on legend Mohammed Ali, who also talked a lot of thrash but never flashed his wealth in the public. No social media then of course.
During the post-fight presser Mayweather said “they never talked about me giving back, or helping under privileged youths or donating to different courses”.
That’s just the way sports is, you are judged on overall behavior inside and outside the sport. Ali was remembered as much for his Vietnam stance as his defining defeat of George Foreman in Zaire.
I am a massive Mayweather fan, I believe defense is part of boxing and while some attack relentlessly, some defend with guile and precision. It did not start off that way though.
Like many critics and fans, I thought he was boring, talked too much trash and wasn’t really that special.
After his career defining fight against Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, that view changed. I studied the sport and every facet of it and came to a realization of what exactly makes the sport tick, the foundation, the basic. I was converted.
Knocking heads off is exciting but so is nullifying your opponent’s powers while being effective. With this realization come, the truth and the obvious fact that “The Money Man” is truly gifted. You begin to see how he dismantles his opponents during the fight with an array of counter punches and ring generalship.
I went back and watched every single one of his fights from 2004 till 2007, held my hand up and gave him the credit he deserved. I’ve watched every fight since including the destruction of my favorite fighter Ricky Hatton, full-fledged Welterweight Shane Mosley, young strong champion Canelo Alvarez amongst others.
Mohammed Ali sold tickets with his mouth, trash talking his way to heavy pay days, Mike Tyson did the same but Mayweather over stepped the mark and made it better while getting under the skin of fans. The truth is many who buy tickets to see his fights, do so to see him lose but either way they pay the money.
The Black American has been part of the top 5 richest fights in history and is the highest paid athlete in the world. There is a reason for that.
The stats show that Mayweather has been a defensive first fighter but also an attacking genius, it is worthy to note that he has the highest connect percentage of all active fighters in this generation.
Scoring more power punches jabs and hooks than any other fighter. Against Berto he connected with 57% of his punches while Berto connected with a mere 17% percent.
Against Manny Pacquiao he connected with 48% of his punches while absorbing only 27% from the Phillipino fighter. In boxing you have the brawlers and you have the boxers. Many fans have clamored for Mayweather to be a brawler but he just isn’t.
One thing is clear; history would remember him in many different ways. His choices of opponents have not been of the highest caliber many a time, fighting many of them when they were perceived to be past their best. Many have argued he blatantly docked some fighters in their prime.
His unwillingness to take risks in the ring and go for knockouts even when he was dominating would also count against him in some circles.
Perhaps as well his legacy defining victory over Manny Pacquiao in May, in which many argued the fight should have happened five years earlier and when that didn’t sail, the fight was just plain boring after all the buzz it created.
On the flip side he fought 23 consecutive current or former world champions, was world champion for 15 years and broke every financial record ever in the sport including earning over $200 million from the Pacquiao fight, the most revenue generated for a single fight, the most PPV buys for a single fight and the most live gate ticket sales in the history of the sport.
Finally the most important line in boxing “protect yourself at all times”, there was none better at protecting himself inside the ring than Mayweather.
Mayweather has never cared about what the critics have said, the most important thing to him is his own belief in himself and his abilities in the ring.
Said Mohammed Ali “I called myself the greatest even before I knew I was the greatest”.
Mayweather calls himself “TBE, The Best Ever”. He earned more than $700 million in eight years.
Belief is absolutely key in life not just sports, irrespective of what anyone else says. You control your destiny and can steer it in any direction you choose. Critics would always abound but using their words to inspire you is the ultimate victory.
Hardwork can never be comprised and dedication to a craft or skill or talent or work would often get you to the top.
Work when you work, play when you play. It’s often said nobody works harder than Mayweather.
Same quote is often spoken about another legend in Tom Brady of the New England Patriots in the National Football League (American Football). It is plain and simple you have to work hard.
Mayweather wanted to be the best and he worked at it every day for 19 years. He might not have dazzled the fans but none can doubt his work ethic.
Another comparison here is Michael Phelps, the great American swimmer who started preparing for the 2004 Olympics games since he was 9 years old. Plain and simple, the very best in all sports worked extremely hard to get to where they are.
Whether or not he’ll stay retired is a story yet to be written but at this junction one can rightfully say he has had the career he always wanted bar pleasing the fans.
Dominated the sport for 15 years and beating ever opponent placed in front of him. For the many reasons stated above I don’t think he is “The Best Ever” but in terms of defense there has been none better. No doubt he is a legendary fighter.
Tola Ogunlewe is a Sports Lawyer and Sports Writer, follow him @tolaogunlewe on twitter