There's a fighter today, and he just happens to be the top rated pound for pound fighter in boxing. He likes to wear a hat with the letters “TBE” across the front of it. “TBE” stands for “The Best Ever” but could just as easily stand for “The Best Evader.” No, Floyd Mayweather 46-0 (26) isn't the best ever and really isn't in the conversation regarding who's the best ever fighter/boxer to anyone who was born before, say, 1980.
Yes, Floyd is undefeated, but when his name comes up, at least in a majority of the conversations I've had with boxing fans, the first thing that they say is, “Why won't he fight Manny Pacquiao?” Which really makes my answer tough because I'm one who never once wavered in my belief that Mayweather would've defeated Pacquiao had they fought when a bout between them was a legitimate Super Fight circa spring 2010.
Sugar Ray Leonard was once asked how a fight between he and Mayweather would've turned out had they met in their respective prime. Leonard always answers that question like a politician running for office. However, on this particular occasion he said, to paraphrase, Do you think Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler or Roberto Duran would've ducked fighting Manny Pacquiao? And when you think of it like that, Mayweather really does look small. Because if you live in reality, Mayweather-Pacquiao never being made had much more to do with Mayweather's reluctance than anything else. The supposed “TBE” wouldn't fight a featherweight who moved up in weight.
Since he turned pro back in 1996 there's only been one fight that boxing fans have really wanted to see Mayweather agree to. And that was a fight with Pacquiao circa 2009/2010 when the outcome was somewhat in doubt. Only Mayweather thought it was too risky and sat on his hands and threw out every excuse imaginable that some foolishly even accepted. Well, that's water under the bridge now. However, there is something Mayweather could do to erase the stench of not giving the fans the only fight they ever really wanted from him, and that's fight WBA middleweight title holder Gennady Golovkin 30-0 (27).
Golovkin is without a doubt the most formidable fighter in professional boxing weighing 160 or less. He's undefeated and one of the most talked about fighters in boxing who is at or near his prime. Mayweather should challenge Golovkin for his middleweight title without a catch-weight clause attached to the deal. Yes, Golovkin says he can make 154, but we've never seen him fight that low and haven't clue-one if he's the same fighter at that low weight. Beating Golovkin at 154 is not beating the fighter we've seen through 10 middleweight title bouts. And that's what would be the intrigue of the fight. Could Mayweather beat the version of Golovkin that's gone through the middleweight division? We know Gennady is a beast at 160 and that's the weight they should fight at. Floyd fought Canelo Alvarez, who balloons up higher after the weigh in than Golovkin does after making weight, and Floyd had no qualms with that.
Mayweather is often compared to Sugar Ray Leonard from a skill vantage point. In fact Floyd has said on the record that's he's even greater than Leonard was. Which in my opinion is as Mike Tyson would say, preposterous. However, if Mayweather wants to show that he has half the character and guts that Leonard had, he should try and follow Ray's lead and challenge Golovkin.
It was April of 1987 and Leonard, who'd only fought once in five years, faced Hagler for the WBC middleweight title. At the time Hagler was 32, as is Golovkin. Hagler was the undisputed middleweight champ for nearly seven years at the time and only the great Roberto Duran went the distance with Marvin in a title bout, something 11 other fighters failed to do. And Leonard had never fought above junior middleweight before fighting Hagler, which also applies to Mayweather if he fights Golovkin.
Some will say yeah, but Leonard demanded 12 rounds instead of 15, even though Hagler's last two title bouts before he fought Leonard were only scheduled for 12 rounds. This applies to title bouts today, being that they're all scheduled for 12 rounds and have been for over 25 years. Leonard also wanted to fight with 10 ounce gloves instead of eight ounce, which was the protocol at the time. Guess what, Mayweather and Golovkin both fight wearing 10 ounce gloves. Also, Leonard wanted a 20 foot ring when he challenged Hagler and he got it. Wow, this is nuts, but Mayweather always fights in a ring that's at least 20 foot. This is crazy, but Mayweather could challenge Golovkin and automatically receive the same advantages that Leonard bargained to get in order to fight Hagler….and Floyd wouldn't even have to negotiate for them.
And let’s face it, who would you rather be, the fighter trying to take Hagler's title away from him in 1987, or the one trying to take Golovkin's away from him in 2014? I know which line I'd be in – that long one in front of Golovkin that would extend way, way around the block. Golovkin is no doubt a formidable fighter and it'll take a special fighter to beat him, but again, I live in reality, and there's no way in the world Golovkin of today would take Hagler's title in 1987. He might go the distance, but he'd probably get beat up worse than John “The Beast” Mugabi did when he fought Hagler in Marvin's last bout before meeting Leonard. And don't think Leonard caught Hagler at the perfect time, because had Ray not defeated Marvin, he would've reigned as middleweight champ for another two years if he wanted to. There wasn't a chance in the world that Hagler would've lost his title to the likes of Sumbu Kalambay, Michael Nunn or James Toney circa 1988-89. No way.
Think about the credibility that Mayweather would gain if he actually fought Golovkin in a legitimate middleweight title bout without any gimmicks or cons. And if he beat the undefeated Golovkin, he could have a hat made that read OOTBE…”One Of The Best Ever” and it would actually apply.
Floyd Mayweather is a great fighter, but I don't care what anyone says, his stature and record are very much in large part due to his brilliant managing skills and picking his opponents. He'll retire with his health and wealth, on that there can be no denying. However, what about his respect? For his entire career there's been one opponent, Manny Pacquiao, that boxing fans clamored for him to face and for whatever his reasons, the fight never happened. Think about that, if the boxing world pined for Leonard, Duran or Hearns to fight Pacquiao because there was a question as to whether they could beat him or not, do you think they would've made the fight a reality?
There's one name in boxing between welterweight and middleweight, excluding Mayweather, that fans are excited about, and that's Golovkin. If Floyd wanted to prove beyond all doubt that he's maybe OOTBE, he'd go for Golovkin before he gets better. And the funny thing about it is, Golovkin isn't even a big middleweight and would only come to the ring a few pounds heavier than the 165 that Marcos Maidana did when he fought Floyd three months ago in his last bout.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com