Floyd Mayweather is arguably the best boxer of his era.However, it's impossible to rate him against other greats from eras before his because he's never beaten another great fighter when they were undefeated or at their peak. Yes, he's conclusively defeated a few undefeated fighters, but they weren't close to being thought of as great boxers. And sure, he's defeated some big names and potential greats the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto. Again, they were all decisively defeated long before he beat them. Had De La Hoya continued to use his jab he could've beaten Mayweather. Mosley almost put him to sleep with one punch and Cotto was fours years past his best when Mayweather finally faced him.
Sure, Mayweather may have defeated De La Hoya, Mosley and Cotto at their best, that's very plausible, but we just don't know because they clearly were on a severe decline when they faced him and that was on purpose. It's tiresome to continue saying Mayweather has 44 consecutive wins and zero signature fights among them, but that's the simple truth and there's no way around it.
This past weekend Floyd won 11 out of 12 rounds against the very tough and determined former featherweight title holder Robert Guerrero. Prior to the fight it was said in this very space:
“When was the last time Mayweather faced an opponent where it could be said that he is bigger, stronger and faster? In addition to that he's the bigger puncher, harder to hit, more accurate, better defensively, has the higher boxing IQ, is more comfortable at the weight and has much more experience in big fights. And lastly, Floyd has the perfect height, reach and length to pick Robert apart regardless if they're waging war inside or outside.”
After watching the first third of the fight it was painfully obvious all of the above were in play. Unfortunately, Robert wasn't big nor strong or skilled enough to get anything going against Mayweather, who was doing whatever he wanted whenever he wanted during all but perhaps one round of the 12 the fight went. It was also said prior to the fight in this space:
“For arguments sake, say you are guiding Guerrero and in charge of his fight strategy, what exactly would you hang your hat on and try to exploit on Mayweather? The reality is Robert has not tool one to beat Floyd with other than his grit and the hope that Floyd has aged 10 years since his last fight against Miguel Cotto.”
Once again, it didn't take long to observe that Guerrero was in no mans land and was never going to be able to turn the fight in his favor against what turned out to be a very sharp and focused Floyd Mayweather. After the fight ended and Mayweather and Guerrero had spent 36 minutes in the ring fighting, did we learn a single thing, I mean one thing about either Floyd or Robert that we didn't know on May 3rd 2013? No we didn't. In the end Mayweather was dominant and Guerrero was determined and tried all the way to the end but just wasn't good enough. Strategically, there was nothing Robert could've done to change the outcome because Floyd had an answer and counter for anything he did or could've tried. So Robert aggressively threw punches at air and was countered before or after he asserted himself, thus leading to a lopsided unanimous decision defeat.
Mayweather-Guerrero was one of the easiest so-called big fights in recent history to handicap. There was no drama as to the outcome from they very moment it was made official. Mayweather knew he couldn't lose and Guerrero knew he was going to try with everything he had and if all went his way maybe he could score the upset. Mayweather will be paid handsomely for what basically amounted to a 12 round sparring session. He's a great promoter and is beyond reproach at hyping his fights.
If I ask myself what the intrigue is to watching Mayweather's fights, I'm faced with a dilemma. For starters, despite him being a defensive wizard, it's not like we've never seen better boxers than Mayweather, because we have. We've also seen faster fighters and bigger punchers who are more exciting to watch. Yet he manages every time to promote his fights as something you've never seen and if you don't catch him you'll never see it again, which amounts to an unfunny joke.
Floyd's a seriously good defensive fighter. Few fighters have his understanding of the dimensions of the ring; he knows exactly where he is at any given moment. And he's incredibly comfortable, even in the corners (probably the result of having Floyd Sr. as a father; ducking and dodging would be required education). But he's, at best, a mediocre puncher, and a relatively unsophisticated offensive fighter. Essentially, he takes what opportunities arise, but seldom makes any on his own. That in a nutshell sums Mayweather up. Add to that he's managed his career brilliantly, we'll more than likely never witness him lose and in a few years he'll retire undefeated like Rocky Marciano and Joe Calzaghe.
Think about it, every time he and his career are discussed or written about, it never goes without mention asking who did he really fight when they were at the top or their game that was borderline great and undefeated. Shane Mosley beat De La Hoya more convincingly than Mayweather did seven years earlier. Vernon Forrest beat Mosley more thoroughly than Mayweather did eight years earlier and Manny Pacquiao stopped Cotto three years before Mayweather won a hard fought decision over him.
So what makes Mayweather so great, his management and defensive mastery? Perhaps, but he's not a fighter we'll discuss and talk about once he leaves the stage. At least not in the same reverence we do other past greats who never once have to try and imbed it in our minds how great they were because we say it for them.
The Mayweather-Guerrero fight did nothing to enhance Mayweather's resume nor did it provide us an answer to a single question we have regarding the undefeated best fighter in boxing as to where he ranks among the greatest of the greats. One thing is for sure, his fights are no longer must see, that is if they ever were.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com