The Mayweather TBE talk continues to bounce around my brain and has me thinking about how impossible it is to prove any athlete as the best ever in any sport; those claims are highly debatable and almost entirely subjective. Floyd Mayweather is an all-time great boxer who is headed for the Hall of Fame once he retires, but he is not TBE (the best ever).
Floyd, his TBE apparel, and some fans have made this rather lofty assertion. A major argument for Floyd being TBE is his undefeated record. 48-0 is a tremendous accomplishment, but it is not a mark that is unheard of in boxing history. Additionally, inactivity is an issue. 48 fights in 19 years is rather conservative. I get that each fight was carefully calculated and his business acumen has made him a huge draw in the sport, but that does not figure into being the best boxer ever. Here is a look at how Floyd’s record stacks up with some other fighters who could claim TBE at comparable points in their careers and beyond:
1. Joe Louis (49-1) – His first loss came against Max Schmeling. He won the rematch and finished 66-3.
2. Rocky Marciano (49-0) – Retired undefeated and has a win against Joe Louis.
3. Pernell Whitaker (40-1-1) – He was a defensive genius who provided constant entertainment. He retired with a 40-4-1 record with fights against Chavez Sr., De La Hoya, Roger Mayweather, and Trinidad. I believe he beat De La Hoya and disagreed completely with those bogus score cards, but that is neither here nor there.
4. Sugar Ray Robinson (49-1) – Outstanding combination of speed and power. He retired with a record of 173-19-6.
5. Larry Holmes (48-0) – Holmes made 20 consecutive title defenses and has fights against Ali, Leon Spinks, Michel Spinks, Holyfield, and Tyson. He retired with a 69-6 record.
6. Willie Pep (62-0) – Pep was also a defensive genius with a final record of 229-11-1 over a 26 year career.
7. Roy Jones Jr. (49-1) – Jones’ single loss at that point was the result of a disqualification where he punched his opponent after knocking him down (essentially 50-0). Jones combined reflexes, entertainment, and punching power. He is 61-8 and still an active boxer.
8. Muhammad Ali (31-0) – Ali was also gifted with rare reflexes. He combined those reflexes with power and entertainment as he dodged punches with head movement alone at times. Ali had a 3 year layoff at 29-0 due to his refusal to join the army. He returned to action accumulating a record of 56-5 with fights against Frazier (3 times), Liston (2 times), Norton (3 times), Foreman, Leon Spinks (2 times), and Larry Holmes.
9. Sugar Ray Leonard (36-1) – Leonard finished 36-3-1 fighting at welterweight, but moving up to take fights at middleweight, super middleweight, and light heavyweight. His impressive list of opponents include Mayweather Sr., Duran (2 times), Benitez, Hearns (2 times), and Marvin Hagler.
10. Prince Naseem Hamed (35-0) – Hamed lost a tough fight to Barrera, took a year off, came back with a win, and retired at 36-1. Hamed also possessed extraordinary speed and ability to dodge punches. He was usually able to outpoint his opponents in a flashy manner. Prince Naseem still received a Hall of Fame induction despite retiring at 28 with hand problems and a lack of desire for training.11. Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. (89-0) – Chavez Sr. retired with a record of 107-6-2. He fought plenty of top competition throughout his career and the 89 fight win streak speaks for itself.
12. Mike Tyson (37-0) – Tyson was must see TV. He had a solid blend of power, athleticism, strength, and intimidation. Mike suffered a tough loss to Buster Douglas in a fight that featured Douglas rising from the canvas to beat the count. Tyson finished with a record of 50-6-0-2 NC.
13. George Foreman (40-0) – Coming off a win vs Ken Norton, George put his undefeated record on the line vs Muhammad Ali. He also fought Joe Frazier and went on to rack up a record of 76-5.
14. Gene Tunney (40-0-1) – Gene could stand and trade, but was a skilled counter puncher who was able to outthink his opposition. Gene retired with a record of 65-1-1-1 NC. Tunney beat Jack Dempsey twice.
15. Eder Jofre (47-0-3) – His final record was 72-2-4 and he was a dominant fighter.
Now I know I missed other all-time greats, but for the sake of the “Floyd is undefeated” argument, I wanted to show that other fighters amassed similar records while some went on to fight more fights than Floyd. What is wrong with saying Floyd Mayweather is an all-time great and one of the best to ever do it? Saying that does not take anything away from his wonderful career. TBE is thrown around without delving into the true history of the sport and realizing many other fighters could also claim TBE. I am a huge Manny Pacquiao fan and I recognize him as an all-time great (he’s not undefeated and did not have a big undefeated streak, so I could not include him on this list). I can understand the argument of Floyd being better than Manny because of what went down in the ring when they fought. The same logic applies to saying Muhammad Ali is better than George Foreman. At least those points are based on some evidence unlike than the cloudy TBE statement.