There is no denying that Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been the best boxing technician of the last decade, with all the wins that he has accumulated in his professional career, without having even one loss tainting his boxing record. 48-0 is beyond impressive; in fact it’s almost unfathomable to comprehend. Simply put, it’s a testament to the work ethic that has been practiced over the years through rigorous training and an attitude that refuses to relent under pressure of any kind that faces him in the ring, which makes him a force to be reckoned with. However, that level of success gives many who obtain it, the license to conduct themselves in any way they see fit, and in Mayweather’s case, he chooses the role of the outspoken, gaudy, show-boater that has no qualms of whatever statement he ejects out of his mouth. In a candid interview with sports journalist Stephen A. Smith on the April 20th, 2015 edition of “First Take” on ESPN, weeks before his long-awaited bout with challenger Manny Pacquiao, he vehemently said on camera,
“No one can ever brainwash me, to make me believe that Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali are better than me”.
The sports world was set ablaze when he uttered out that statement, with many of his enthusiasts and constituents agreeing with him, but unsurprisingly many more people disagreeing with him and even rebuking his right to call himself a boxer. Clearly this isn’t the first time he has drawn the ire of many through his words or his actions. It wasn’t too far back when on September 17th, 2011 at the MGM Grand at Las Vegas after winning a bout via KO vs Victor Ortiz, unhappy with the line of questioning being delivered by veteran HBO reporter Larry Merchant about the controversial victory, Mayweather questioned his knowledge of boxing which led to Merchant stating the bold claim that:
“If I were 50 years younger I’d kick your (expletive)!”
It’s no secret that Mayweather has a way of stirring the pot, more so than James Harden, but now that he’s closing in on the big 5-0 on his resume, one has to wonder if no one can “brainwash” him into believing that he’s better than Ali, or if he’s fooling himself with delusions of grandeur by blindly believing in his own hype. With that being said, we’ll break down their weight classes, comparison of rounds in championship matches in each era, quality of opponents they’ve had, and x-factors. Ladies and gents, DailyXY presents to you, the tale of the tape. Let’s get ready to rumble!
From the start of his career up until the end of it, Ali fought in the Heavy Weight Division, which has been a staple in the sport for many years. Some of the more renowned fighters in the history of the sport, including Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, and “Iron” Mike Tyson made names for themselves and further propelled boxing into a mainstream fixture by competing in that division. For the first three years of his career from 1960-63, he amassed a perfect 19-0 record, with 15 of those coming by way of knockout. Within that division, most of the fighters stand at least six feet, and the punches are much heavier due to the emphasis of power. In the case of Mayweather, he has fought within the Super Feather Weight, Super Light Weight and Welter Weight Divisions. In those divisions, you’re not likely to see knockouts as much and the outcomes are more predicated to the decision of the judges. Points become much more of a factor, which is a key reason as to why Mayweather has won all of his bouts: by throwing and landing the right amount of punches that will secure him the victory.
Rounds in Championship Bouts
In today’s day and age of championship boxing, there are exactly 12 rounds to be fought in, 3 minutes each. That’s 36 minutes (minus stoppage time in between rounds) of uninterrupted boxing which seems very taxing on the bodies of the fighters involved. However, in Ali’s era there were 15 rounds with 3 minutes per round. Take into account of the ferocity of the strikes, how much more power, and how much more weight these fighters are carrying in the ring for 45 minutes, and you have yourself the ultimate test of endurance that many can legitimately argue, far exceeds that of any other division.
Now this is where the gloves come off (predictable, I know)! When looking at both resumes (especially when looking at title defenses), one must take into account the degree of difficulty that either one had faced coming into the match. We won’t list all of the names but just a few so that you have some perspective. In the case of Mayweather, some of his more notable matches were against the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Sugar Shane Mosely. The common denominator between those three you ask? Despite all three men etching their names in history, and boasting respectable records during those times (Hatton sported an equally impressive undefeated record of 43-0), those fighters were very well past their primes, which boasted well in the favor of Mayweather, and has also been a constant criticism of his, which is picking and choosing fights with others that he knows he has a clear advantage over, and choosing to fight the fighters that people want to see him go up against for the sake of pay-per-view buys, thus making it a popularity contest. In the case of Ali, he has gone up against formidable and legendary opponents such as Sonny Liston, George Foreman, and arguably his most challenging opponent ever, “Smokin” Joe Frazier. In Ali’s era, the popularity contest factor wasn’t as strong as it is today. In that era, it was the traditional approach of fighting against the next best contender. If he loses (providing there’s no rematch clause in their contract) they get to the back of the line and the next best fighter steps up. Boxing nowadays has seemingly abandoned that ideology due to the fact that they are losing out to MMA as the most popular combat sport in the world, and it has suffered for it in many ways.
Now perhaps this may not be the most just category in this tale of the tape, in fact this is more based on subjectivity that could increase or decrease likability between the two fighters. The common denominator between Ali and Mayweather, is the fact that both of them had larger than life personalities which translated into eyebrow-raising statements that would normally get on the bad side of anyone listening, especially their opponents. Mayweather as a promoter uses that tactic to sell his fights, whereas Ali used it as a way to get inside the heads of his fellow combatants. Apart from competitive banter, Ali used his voice to speak on many issues that stemmed from a sociopolitical standpoint. He was a huge staple in the civil rights era. So much so that it lead him to convert to the Nation of Islam followed up by the name change (formerly Cassius Clay), and befriended the leader of the movement Malcolm X, and was even jailed due to his refusal to participate as a member of the armed forces to fight in Vietnam, a war that he was very vocal against. Moments in time like that prove how huge of a staple he was to the black community, and also prove how comically and egregiously incorrect Mayweather was, when he stated in that same interview with Stephen A. Smith when he said,
“Racism is more apparent now, than in Ali’s time.”
Last time this writer checked, black athletes in the 21st century weren’t being forced into the military and being maligned and ostracized by their government for choosing not to. While racism does exist strongly in 2015, Mayweather, from a public standpoint, can’t even compare to what Ali or any other black athlete or citizen for that matter had to go through during the civil rights era. Blacks were being hosed down and attacked by dogs for drinking from the “wrong” fountain, so imagine what they would have done to him if was outlandishly making it rain in 1965.
And the Decision is . . .
Now that you’ve witnessed the tale of the tape, what do all of you think? Who has the edge in this bout? Do you side with the boxer who made the sport into the giant it became for multiple decades, or do you side with the boxer who gave it life support when a new juggernaut kicked in the door and staked its claim in the world of combat sports. One man’s legacy states that he fought for the people, another man’s legacy states that he fought for the money. Either way, both names are sketched in the history books, but only one can reign supreme. You decide.