Countdown To Mayweather-Pacquiao: What A Loss Would Mean For Mayweather

In professional sports legends are created and destroyed in a matter of seconds, and professional boxing is no different. Think of how drastically different the NFL’s Buffalo Bills would be viewed today had place kicker Scott Norwood hit a 47 yard field goal (that missed by less than a yard to the right) at the end of Super Bowl XXV versus the New York Giants? Today they’d be remembered as Super Bowl champions and Bill Parcells wouldn’t be considered quite the legend he is.

Had “Smokin” Joe Frazier lost a unanimous decision to Muhammad Ali in The “Fight Of The Century” instead of winning it, today Joe would be an asterisk in heavyweight history and viewed by many as the caretaker of Ali’s title while he was exiled for over three years.

What if George Foreman knocked Ali out in the eighth round of the “Rumble In The Jungle” instead of the opposite? Most likely George, not Ali, would be considered the greatest heavyweight of all-time. Forty plus years later Frazier is remembered for winning the biggest and most celebrated boxing match in history, and Ali wasn’t thought of as being the greatest until after he beat Foreman.

Legacies among great fighters can often ride on the outcome of one particular fight, depending on the fighter. When Floyd Mayweather 47-0 (26) takes on Manny Pacquiao 57-5-2 (38) this weekend, I can’t think of a single fighter who entered such a big fight with so little to gain and so much to lose regarding his all-time historical stature. Love him or loathe him, there’s just no getting around the fact that Mayweather is thought of as being a fighter who chose his opponents too judiciously throughout his career and especially during his tenure fighting as a welterweight. Denying that certifies you as a lifetime member of the flat-earth society. If you think about it, it’s really difficult coming up with Floyd’s signature win after 19 years as a professional fighter.

Mayweather fought Oscar De La Hoya when he was an empty package and 2-2 in his last four bouts heading into their fight. Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins and Manny Pacquiao all beat Oscar far more conclusively than the split decision verdict Floyd edged him out by. Juan Manuel Marquez was no doubt a great fighter but not as welterweight and Floyd was two divisions bigger than him when they fought. When Mayweather finally fought Shane Mosley in 2010, it was seven years too late. Floyd controlled the fight against the almost 39 year old Mosley, who nearly put him to sleep with one right hand in the second round. I doubt anyone would argue that Mayweather fought a vintage Mosley. Floyd’s overwhelming victory against Miguel Cotto is legit and probably the closest he has to being a signature win. But let us not forget Pacquiao obliterated Miguel three years prior, and after fighting Mayweather, Cotto was defeated even more decidedly seven months later in his next bout versus Austin Trout.

And then there’s Antonio Margarito and Paul Williams, who Mayweather purposely avoided by fighting undefeated IBF junior welterweight title holder Ricky Hatton and then retiring…. Only to come back 21 months later to fight Juan Manuel Marquez.

Most boxing pundits and fans conveniently forget how Margarito was a physical beast who had the style, chin and strength to suffocate Mayweather…and Williams had the reach, style, speed, boxing ability and power to beat Floyd fighting any style he chose. Think of how much stronger Mayweather’s 47-0 resume would be if you omitted Hatton and Marquez and replaced them with Williams and Margarito?!

Floyd Mayweather turned pro in 1996 and it took him 11 years to partake in a fight that boxing fans wanted to see, and that was against the much eroded Oscar De La Hoya, who was the A-side of the bout. And it certainly wasn’t Floyd’s finest hour. Even his father Floyd Sr. said that he felt his son lost. Since 2007 there’s been an angle tilting the outcome in Mayweather’s favor in every fight. Ricky Hatton, Marquez and Robert Guerrero were too small. De La Hoya and Mosley were fighting on their last legs, to put it nicely. Victor Ortiz and Marcos Maidana are nothing close to being world beaters; Canelo Alvarez was too green and inexperienced fighting at the highest level in professional boxing and still hasn’t yet proven he’s all that special. That leaves Cotto as being Mayweather’s most noteworthy win, and it’s a good one, but it’s still only one.

On May 2nd Mayweather will fight Manny Pacquiao in what will be the highest grossing fight in boxing history, not to be wrongly confused with being the biggest fight in boxing history. Pacquiao turned pro in 1995 as a flyweight. He’s lost twice in his last five bouts and in one of them he was knocked out face first on the canvas for well over a minute. In his last three bouts he’s defeated Timothy Bradley (after losing to him) Brandon Rios and Chris Algieri, all of whom went the distance with him.

However, because Mayweather is undefeated and this being by far the highest profile bout of his career, this is the fight he’ll be remembered by. That’s one of the problems he’s confronted with due to his lack of signature opponents. If he retired before fighting Pacquiao, he’d be remembered as a terrific defensive fighter who over-managed his career and avoided fighting the sternest opposition when it truly meant something to beat them. And as much as his fans want to deny it, that also pertains to the upcoming bout with Pacquiao to a large degree. Beating Manny after he lost to Bradley and Marquez hardly builds his case as “TBE.” If that were so, why aren’t Erik Morales and Juan Manuel Marquez considered “TBE” since they will have defeated Pacquiao when he was younger and greater than when he fought Mayweather?

If you’re “Smokin” Joe Frazier and the first to clip the wings of the undefeated “butterfly” Muhammad Ali, you’re special. If you’re George Foreman and the first to put out the undefeated Smoke, you’re special. If you’re Muhammad Ali at age 32 and the first to beat the big bad undefeated monster named Foreman 40- (37) when he’s 25, you’re special. If you’re Roberto Duran, and the first to beat Sugar Ray Leonard at his optimal weight when he was undefeated and in his prime, you’re special. If you’re Sugar Ray Leonard and the first to beat undefeated Thomas Hearns 32-0 (30), you’re special. However, if you’re Floyd Mayweather and you beat Manny Pacquiao on May 2nd 2015, you will become one of six to have turned the trick. In other words Rustico Torrecampo, Megdeon Singsurat, Erik Morales, Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez already have defeated Pacquiao. For Mayweather, beating Pacquiao at this stage, if you’re bigger and less shopworn than he is, doesn’t make you so special.

Of course a win over Pacquiao is a feather in Mayweather’s cap, but it shouldn’t catapult him up the all-time great list. Beating a fighter he should’ve beaten who is smaller than he is and has already lost five times before wouldn’t propel any other fighter to legendary status, and it shouldn’t Mayweather. But losing to Pacquiao, if he does, is the single most thing Floyd Mayweather will be remembered for. The 47 victories before that will not shield a loss in his only true career defining fight. What will stand the test of time is – the fact that the first time Mayweather was confronted by a fighter who was thought to be a legitimate threat to his perfect record, he lost.

Much of Mayweather’s ring legacy is riding on the outcome against Pacquiao. If he wins, as he is favored to do, he continues to tread water among some of the all-time greats because he benefits from so many writers and fans not fully understanding how to interpret the record of great fighters. If he loses, he’ll lose much of the cachet he’s built up throughout his career for good, so much so that victory in a rematch will not redeem him. Because he shouldn’t have to fight Pacquiao twice to beat him once….Mayweather should beat Pacquiao 7-days a week, 52 weeks a year, every year.

Floyd Mayweather must beat Manny Pacquiao this weekend because if he went ahead and retired without ever fighting him, that’s all anyone would talk about for years down the road whenever his name was mentioned. Now that he’s fighting Pacquiao he must win because if he loses, after all that he’s accomplished, that is the single most thing he would be remembered for. And to be considered the best fighter of his era, he cannot be 0-1 in the only signature fight of his career versus his only true rival.

Photo Credit : Chris Farina – Top Rank

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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COMMENTS

-Radam G :

Two days and a wake up. And the West will see and learn that Money May is not the best. At age 38, he is going down like all the rest. He won't be able to handle the little beast from Pacific Rim of Fire East. Holla!


-brownsugar :

The answer is simple....May weather said he will still have his post-fight backyard family bar b que the next day and watch the fight with his family. This is Floyd MoneyMan Mayweather...not Floyd "The Rabbit" Patterson who would literally wear wigs and sunglasses while going incognito for months after losing a fight. Floyd wrote a note to his team that is posted in his gym, explaining that he's near the end of his career and went on to encouraged his team to save their earnings and spend it wisely because many of them will be on their own after September. "I have reached my limit" proclaimed the self-made mogul. Floyd invested in some very lucritave business property in NY which will guarantee him a monthly income of up to seven figures a month. I guess having friends like Warren Buffer can be beneficial if you have the means to make practical use of the advise. When recently asked what he will do if someone threatens to take over his legacy Floyd said "I can't wait to pass the torch". This doesn't sound like a man who plans on living in the past and wasting time opening up old wounds when the fight game is over. Hatton and Oscar reached for the bottle and the drugs after boxing. Even Calzaghe did it to fill the void created from leaving the fight game.... Floyd doesn't have a need to see the world through the rose colored glasses of drugs and alcohol. Floyd is one of the few fortunate athletes who can purchase a rose colored world I have a feeling Floyd will continue to reach for greatness outside the ring...by elevating his businesses , And by securing his family's financial wellfare .........also he'll be remaining connected to the boxing community by searching for the next Floyd Mayweather through his Boxing Promotions company. Boxing........Its only business..nothing personell. Maybe Floyd will even get Manny to sign with Haymon and really maximize his earnings.


-deepwater2 :

A loss is not the end of the world. If he fights his heart out and loses he might pick up more fans. Floyd doesn't seem like himself at all. I just hope we get a good fight. I can't sleep ,I'm up early my plane leaves this morning.


-stormcentre :

Both guys will - no matter what the outcome is - go on to be considered 2 of the all time best fighters the world has seen. As should be the case with Pac and Floyd. And that's even if they didn't fight each other. Now that they are fighting each other . . . even if one is KO'd and/or dropped; people will still remember that they both made the fight, courageously fought each other, and entertained us all with the spectacle that it is. I can't see either guy getting dropped and not (at least trying to) getting up and fighting on until they can no more. These guys are both pinnacle/top level fighters and modern day boxing legends.


-michigan400 :

My 2 cents - I think Floyd wants out. Not out of this particular fight but out of boxing, period. If he had the same passion for boxing and ring greatness he did when he started it would be obvious to all and the "Money" persona never would have needed to be created to get people interested in watching him. He would have wanted to fight these monsters to prove everyone wrong instead of taking the path of least resistance and most money. If he did that he wouldn't need to come up with a "personality" that can do the selling for him. The fights would have spoke for themselves. Everything he says and does just sounds and feels so hollow and prepared it's kind of sickening. Like he's just going off a script wrote for him. To me at this point, it seems Manny still has more of a "spark" left that can ignite the fire inside and give him the mental edge. Like Ali getting motivated from the locals before he fought Foreman, he discovered that fire again and we all know what he did in the fight. Shock the world!!! You can break down and compare physical qualities all you want (Foreman had ALL the physical advantages) but I'll always pick the guy that wants it and needs it most despite who the betting favorite is. To me that is Manny. May the best man win on Saturday!! I hope it's an instant classic!! My pick - Manny wins by a round or two in a highly subjective and competitive fight.


-ThatGuy :

Yeah the fight has happened but A lot of people would just nullify his career had he lost. A loss on mayweathers record shouldn't discredit the outstanding career beforehand but i believe a loss would make him do something crazy like fight ggg at 160 just to prove he's the best. That's how unthinkable a loss is, since he prepares for every scenario before a fight. I wasn't alive at the time but a lot of people apparently were banking on chavez to lose. The boxing world was especially upset about the fix/robbery in the 93 fight between chavez and whitaker for example. Mayweather is in a similar position although it's clear he has many haters for non-boxing related reasons. Chavez is one of the greatest today with many losses. I just cant picture People would say mmayweather with 1 loss is in the conversation of the best of all time when most already say ali and robinson are on another level despite mayweather never losing. But 0 or 1, he's the richest to ever do it and the healthiest to ever leave the sport