On Saturday evening, among the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, Floyd Mayweather Jnr officially became the pound-for-pound king in boxing after he defeated his closest challenger Manny Pacquiao in an enthralling contest in the Nevadan desert.
The superfight was both a blessing and a curse: A blessing because the purists’ prayers were finally answered after a five-year wait and; a curse, as fights of this magnitude generally unearth curious punters who despite ordinarily loathing boxing, all of a sudden feel obliged to give their two pennies worth to the cause.
Pacquiao’s relentless stalking of his opponent was both admirable and frustrating. When it became clear this approach was being superbly nullified by Mayweather’s renowned hit and run tactics, and despite the Pacman’s occasional but sustained onslaughts, the outcome of a unanimous victory for the undefeated American seemed fair.
That said this is sport and opinions differ. Some, albeit a vast minority, thought the Filippino should have been the victor and their sentiment was surprisingly backed by Evander Holyfield when the five-time heavyweight champion spoke with ESPN:
“Mayweather’s style is not pleasing to the crowd but it tends to put him in a position to win. I thought Pacquiao was doing well. I don’t know how people scored the fight. The fact of the matter, you’re the more aggressive one, you hit him with the shots… Pacquiao seem to hit him (Mayweather) more times than he hit Pacquiao.”
Holyfield’s claims were contradicted by Compubox. Although the two boxers threw approximately the same number of overall punches, Mayweather’s accuracy was vastly superior.
Another former heavyweight champion and one of Holyfield’s competitors, Lennox Lewis, was quick to support Mayweather.
Upon the bout’s conclusion Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach said his fighter had been denied an injection for his shoulder which potentially hindered Pacquiao’s performance on the night. Sour grapes or substance given the statistics below?
Mayweather’s Behaviour Outside of the Ring
In recent years Mayweather has been subjected to catcalls from the fight fans due to his numerous felonies relating to domestic violence. His actions have been both deplorable and inexcusable but it is worth considering that broken homes all too frequently signal the beginning of the road for many professional boxers. In an industry where there are hard-luck tales aplenty, Mayweather is no different.
His penchant for carelessly exhibiting his lavish riches leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, yet the flamboyance and risk-free attitude outside of the ring is ironically counterbalanced through his no-risk boxing philosophy. One knockout victory in five years (when opponent Victor Ortiz dropped his guard) is a testament to that.
The Best Ever?
His unique but dull style angers many but it is effective, highlighted by this spat between ESPN journalists Stephen A Smith and Robert Flores.
The boos following Saturday evening’s victory were harsh. Rather than condemn him for not delivering a Hollywood type spectacle, perhaps fans should acknowledge him for beating everyone in the division thanks to a superb gameplan.
Mayweather has pointed out in the past that he may not be the quickest or the strongest but that he is certainly the smartest in boxing — a claim which is irrefutable given his 48-0 record plus 19 years of being relatively marked free and topped off with a copious amount of money in the bank.
The question though is if, as expected, Mayweather walks on into the sunset after his final fight in September and matches Marciano’s 49-0 record, what will he actually be remembered for?
Some say he is the best fighter ever yet he has not been involved in any epic fights—particularly when you compare him to Pacquiao. The Filippino’s bouts against Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto will go down as some of the best welterweight / catchweight fights so far this century. Even Mayweather’s split-decision bout with De La Hoya lacked huge excitement.
Mayweather deserves his place in history and he should be remembered as an excellent defensive and counter-attacking boxer—unarguably the most effective of his generation—but being the greatest ever is a mythical term which can and will never be proved.