Floyd Mayweather Must Finish Career Against Elite Opponents to Cement Legacy

Justin OnslowContributor IIMay 7, 2013

May 4, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Floyd Mayweather holds his championship belt after his WBC Welterweight title fight defeating Robert Guerrero at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

At 44-0, there’s not much more Floyd “Money” Mayweather has to do to cement his legacy. He’s the best fighter on the planet and he’ll be remembered as such long after his days in professional boxing are behind him.

But a career centered on perfection still leaves room for improvement.

For Mayweather to remove all doubt of his true dominance, he’ll have to make sure his final five fights are the kind of bouts boxing fans want to see him take on—the kind of bouts that make Money truly put his perfect record on the line.

Robert Guerrero wasn’t the opponent to do that. Despite the hype and talk of a tough matchup for Money, there was no doubt the pound-for-pound champion would knock off Guerrero just as quickly as the fighters climbed into the ring.

The questions of Mayweather’s speed and age have been answered. He’s better than anyone else in the sport and the sweet science needs its brightest star to burn out in a blaze of glory. "Money" needs it, too.

No one will ever question the 36-year-old’s dominance. After all, even current fighters like Manny Pacquiao (who many still consider Mayweather’s perfect opponent) have failed to preserve a perfect record. No one has done it as long as "Money" has. No one has touched his 44-0 mark.

However, as long as someone is looking for a reason to doubt Mayweather’s true legacy, there will be a reason for the five-division champ to leave it all in the ring with massive matchups in his final five fights.

As ESPN.com's Dan Rafael reported, Mayweather plans to retire upon the completion of his six-fight contract with Showtime/CBS—the first of which was with Guerrero on May 4.

That’s five fights to schedule and five fights to win. And an opportunity to turn those five fights into reasons to never doubt his dominance, no matter how long he has been removed from the sport.

Because "Money" handpicks his opponents, he’ll play a big role in how he chooses to finish out his career. Everyone wants a shot at the undefeated No. 1 of boxing and he’ll have a broad array of quality opponents from which to pick his toughest challengers.

That is, of course, unless some of those challengers decide to go their own way first—like Pacquiao.

The boxing world has been pining for a Mayweather-Pac-Man bout for years and has been left unsatisfied by both fighters. Mayweather has ducked Pacquiao and Pacquiao has chosen more willing opponents. Any way you slice it, we may never see that fight transpire.

As SportsCenter reported on Twitter, Pac-Man will once again leave himself out of the discussion for a Mayweather bout in the foreseeable future, instead taking on Brandon Rios in China:

As long as Pac-Man is out of the equation, Mayweather must attempt to find the best opponents he can to close out his career. No one stacks up to him, but there are fighters that can give him a pretty good test.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Adrien Broner come to mind. While the latter has already squashed any possibility of fighting the pound-for-pound kingpin, it’s hard to imagine him passing on a chance to soil Mayweather’s perfect record before his retirement.

The Guerreros and Miguel Cottos of the boxing world are enough to drive pay-per-view sales and make people want to see "Money" back in the ring, but they won’t be enough to eliminate all doubt of Mayweather’s total dominance over the best competition boxing has to offer.

Just as has been the case his entire career, "Money" needs to seek out perfection before retirement. He may bow out with a perfect record, but that doesn’t mean he will have done it in the best way possible.