An Objective Grading of Floyd Mayweather's Fight Selections
With the snores of an unconscious Manny Pacquiao emanating from the canvas, one could hear the pound-for-pound debate silenced.
Floyd "Money" Mayweather is now the undisputed king of boxing.
While Andre Ward, the Klitschko brothers and Nonito Donaire fill in the spots behind him, the distance is vast. Money rules. His critics lament the path he has taken, suggesting it has been the easiest route possible.
Do their jeers have merit?
Mayweather's last fight was an impressive win over Miguel Cotto. Cotto was the toughest non-Pacquiao challenger at the time, and as such (being the most recent), this list will exclude that fight.
Mayweather fought unknown Puerto Rican Henry Bruseles in January of 2005. At the time, Bruseles was 22-2-1 and had mostly fought unknown local fighters in Puerto Rico.
The fight was broadcast on HBO, and Floyd provided his football prediction during the actual fight, stating he liked the Patriots over the Steelers—he was right (41-27).
This accurately demonstrated how much of a threat Bruseles was to the "Pretty Boy."
Better potential opposition at the time: 27-1 Kostya Tszyu, 22-0 Ricky Hatton, 22-0 Miguel Cotto, 25-0 Zab Judah and 25-1-1 Vivian Harris.
Critics' Comment: This was a farce, a horribly superfluous mismatch. Henry Bruseles is a real life version of Spider Rico.
Dazzling, simple dazzling. Arturo was the WBC lightweight champion at the time. Money completely dominated the legendary warrior until Buddy McGirt mercifully threw in the towel after six brutal rounds.
Better potential opposition at the time: Irrelevant, as Gatti was a legitimate defending champion.
Critic's Comment: One point of controversy was when Mayweather hit Gatti on the break and when Arturo turned to the ref to complain, Floyd dropped him with a power shot. Truthfully, this is a moot point, as Mayweather was clearly the better boxer.
Later in 2005, Floyd moved up to welterweight to face Sharmba Mitchell. In short, the fight was a sham. Mitchell was 56-4 at the time and had a nice career as a gatekeeper. At the very best, he was a fringe contender; he retired two fights later, going 1-1. He was easily dispatched in the sixth round by a masterful Mayweather performance.
Better potential opposition at the time: 39-4 Shane Mosley, 27-0 Paul Williams and 35-5 Antonio Margarito.
Critic's Comment: Understandably, a fighter is cautious when moving up in weight; however, this was very poor opposition and did a disservice to both Mayweather's legacy and the sport.
Floyd stepped up to fight the best opposition at the time. This dynamic matchup electrified the sporting world. Zab was the IBF welterweight champion and a top pound-for-pounder. It was an exciting and close affair with Judah winning the first half of the fight but succumbing to Floyd's superior skill via decision.
Better potential opposition at the time: Irrelevant, as Judah was the champ and a division king.
Critic's Comment: Technically, Mayweather lost the fight via disqualification. His trainer, Roger Mayweather, entered the ring during the fight; however, NSAC chief Marc Ratner and referee Richard Steele decided to bend the rules in order to not reward Judah with a win after he (Judah) had started the fracas by deliberately hitting Floyd below the belt.
Grade: A +
Baldomir jumped onto the scene with an upset win over Zab Judah to become the WBC welterweight champion, defending the strap with a lone knockout win over Arturo Gatti.
At 43-9-6, the very lightly regarded Argentine was simply a flash in the pan.
He was recognized as the weakest champion in boxing at the time and never had a significant win after the Gatti fight. At the close of 2006, there were far more legitimate fighters competing around the welterweight division.
Better potential opposition at the time: 37-2 Vernon Forrest (154), 34-3 Cory Spinks, 27-2 Luis Collazo, 43-4 Shane Mosley, 27-0 Miguel Cotto, 31-0 Paul Williams, 33-4 WBO champ Antonio Margarito and 40-0 WBA champ Ricky Hatton.
Critic's Comment: This was simply a matter of exposing the worst possible fighter who held a title.
Oscar De La Hoya
Not only did Floyd make one of the biggest fights in boxing history, he did it in uncharted waters at 154 pounds against a proven legend, Oscar De La Hoya. This is the action of a quintessential champion. This is how one develops a meaningful legacy and promotes the sport—by making the biggest and best fights happen.
Better potential opposition at the time: Floyd took the biggest name and challenge available at a considerable weight disadvantage.
Critics Comment: Floyd's detractors would assert that Oscar deserved the split decision and that De La Hoya was shot at the time.
After winning the WBC light middleweight title from Hall-of Famer Oscar De La Hoya, Mayweather challenged the 43-0 WBC welterweight champ.
He gave the Brit his first ever loss in stunning knockout fashion.
This was a virtuoso performance and cemented his position as the pound-for-pound champ. This was great for boxing and spoke well for Floyd's willingness to fight the best!
Better potential opposition at the time: None bigger than Hatton at the end of 2007.
Critic's Comment: Mayweather did use many illegal elbows during the fight.
Juan Manuel Marquez
In 2009, Mayweather completely smashed Marquez over 12 cruel rounds. There was no doubt regarding the disparity in skill level and no doubt that the Mexican had pride and heart. Marquez, even prior to his recent win over Manny Pacquiao, was an international boxing icon. It was a brilliant display of skill, especially relevant in that Floyd had a near two-year layoff.
Better potential opposition at the time: 48-3-2 Manny Pacquiao, 24-0 Timothy Bradley, 18-0 Devon Alexander and 21-1 Amir Khan.
Critic's Comment: Floyd demanded that the fight take place at 144 pounds, which was significantly higher than Marquez's highest-ever fight at 135 pounds. Despite that marked advantage, Floyd broke the agreement and came in at 146, which afforded him an even greater advantage. Simply put—cashing in on a big-name smaller opponent for an easy win.
Shane Mosley was an uber-talented pugilist that had immaculate technique, laser accuracy and lightning speed. At nearly 40, his speed and skills had greatly diminished when he met Floyd in late 2010. In Round 2, Floyd tasted the hardest punch of his career from the venerable veteran; he ate it well and came back to dominate the remainder of the show.
Better potential opposition at the time: Manny Pacquiao.
Critic's Comment: Shane only fought three times after that fight and went 0-2-1. The speed-centric star was definitely not the fighter he once was at that late stage in life. It was a solid—albeit conservative—Money performance, but warrants an asterisk nonetheless.
The 29-2-2 power-punching star with the touching life story made for great promotion. Yet, the facts behind the WBC welterweight champion were widely known in boxing circles: no heart. Victor Ortiz had famously quit in a fight against Maidana.
This fight really remains to be settled as Ortiz was knocked down from a cheap sucker shot as he was excessively apologizing to Mayweather for an illegal headbutt.
Ortiz quit again as he refused to make the count.
Better potential opposition at the time: Manny Pacquiao.
Critic's Comment: Ortiz has lost his only subsequent fight to a much smaller fighter after quitting. This fight again fits the pattern of picking the softest fight available for a title, as Ortiz is one of many fighters who fought Floyd after recently receiving a belt.
Floyd Mayweather is the undisputed pound-for-pound lord. He also conquered many legends at lower weights prior to this list. He cannot be solely blamed for not having made better fights, as that is a problem inherent in boxing.
There is surely a distinct pattern, however: Floyd is miles better than anyone with whom he competes, and his opponents are often not the best available opposition. How he concludes his legacy is completely his prerogative.
The best fights for him now would be (at 154) Sergio Martinez, Canelo Alvarez and Austin Trout, (at 147) Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez and (at 140) Yuriorkis Gamboa and Adrien Broner (neither has fought there yet, but they are the best fights in that range).
It is always a special treat being witness to a genius in a generation, so we should all appreciate Mister Mayweather's skills, let's hope he finishes his career (he is 35) with grades that reflect his worth.