Floyd Mayweather: Playing Fact or Fiction with Common Claims About Boxing Star

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2013

Floyd Mayweather: Playing Fact or Fiction with Common Claims About Boxing Star

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    Few figures in all of sports are more polarizing than boxing's pound-for-pound king Floyd "Money" Mayweather. Despite his 44 wins and the ease with which he has defeated his opponents, he has more than a few detractors who refuse to give him credit.

    And that's not to say there aren't legitimate gripes. Both his in-ring style and public persona rub many people the wrong way. To some, he's confident and the definition of a pure boxer. To others, he is arrogant and refuses to take risks.

    Throughout his career, there has been little in the way of an honest assessment about Floyd Mayweather as a fighter or as a person. His most ardent supporters and critics often make claims about him that are off base or only moderately based in reality. 

    With all these conflicting opinions, it's hard to separate the true from the false. But let's take some of these claims, put them to scrutiny and see what shakes out. 

Mayweather Hasn't Fought Anybody

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    Mayweather is overrated. He hasn't fought any good fighters in their prime and has managed his career carefully to avoid risks.

    This is by far the most common criticism of Floyd Mayweather, and it's one of the furthest off the mark. 

    In his 17-year career, Mayweather has beaten many good and great fighters. He just makes it look so easy that people are quick to take credit away from him and explain it by diminishing his opponents.

    Genaro Hernandez was an elite fighter in his prime, and Diego Corrales was a tall, lengthy challenger with huge physical advantages. Jose Luis Castillo was an elite body puncher who twice gave Mayweather all he could handle.

    Arturo Gatti wasn't elite but was tough as nails, and Zab Judah, despite losing his previous fight, was a very good but not great fighter in his prime.

    De La Hoya, Mosley and Cotto are all elite, Hall of Fame fighters. You can say that none of them was in his prime before the fight, but nobody was saying that at the time of their fights. 

    You can quibble about who, when and where Mayweather fought certain people. But to say he hasn't beaten anybody is just not true.

    Fact or Fiction? Fiction

Mayweather Has Left Big Fights on the Table

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    Sure, maybe Floyd Mayweather has beaten some good fighters. But he avoided other, tougher fights against guys who presented real challenges.

    This is a slightly different argument. It's similar to the previous one but not quite the same. And that's what makes it more true.

    While Floyd Mayweather has fought his share of good and great fighters, he has passed up more challenging fights at times. That's not to say he didn't have legitimate reasons for doing so or that he deserves any more or less criticism for carefully managing his career.

    But his resume is devoid of some names who could have pushed him—such as Manny Pacquiao, Antonio Margarito, Paul Williams and even a prime Miguel Cotto.

    This doesn't mean that those fighters would have beaten him or that he didn't have legit reasons for not making the fights. But they could have enhanced his legacy.

    Fact or Fiction? Fact

Mayweather Is Avoiding Canelo Alvarez

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    Saul "Canelo" Alvarez is the biggest threat to Floyd Mayweather's perfect record. "Money" will avoid him and seek out lesser fights to keep his zero.

    This criticism falls into line with the crowd who say Mayweather has never fought anybody. Sure, Alvarez presents a formidable challenge for not just Mayweather but for any opponent.

    He's young and physically strong and has tremendous punching power. But to say at this point that Mayweather was or is avoiding him is ridiculous. 

    There remain legitimate questions about whether Alvarez is ready for such a big fight at this stage. He defeated Austin Trout last month but showed some defensive flaws and conditioning issues that could haunt him against Mayweather. 

    He's also much bigger. He would walk into the ring somewhere around light-heavyweight range, and an appropriate weight will need to be found for the fight to be made. It doesn't seem fair to expect Mayweather, who has to add weight to as a welterweight, to fight a guy who will walk into the ring at 170-plus pounds.

    Fact or Fiction? Fiction

Mayweather Avoided Manny Pacquiao

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    Floyd Mayweather spent years avoiding the biggest challenge to his position at the top of the sport. He never wanted to face Manny Pacquiao and avoided what would have been the biggest fight in boxing.

    This is absolutely true, but before the legions of Floyd fans aim for my head, let's explain a bit.

    Both Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao share the blame for this fight never taking place. Both camps and fighters were guilty at different times of making ridiculous demands. Whether it was Pacquiao's reluctance to submit to blood testing or Mayweather offering a flat fee for what would have been a record purse, each man has blame.

    The truth is that neither man was willing to do what was necessary to make this fight. They each hold a share of the blame. You can argue that one deserves more than the other, but neither man has clean hands.

    Fact or Fiction? Fact

Mayweather Is a Villain

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    Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a great fighter, but he's not a good person. He's spent time in jail and often flaunts his wealth without concern for those less fortunate than him.

    While it's true that Mayweather has spent time in jail for domestic battery and often flaunts his wealth using social media, it is false that he doesn't give back.

    When he does, he goes out of his way not to take credit, and the media are rarely, if ever, alerted. He founded the Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation, which seeks to help underserved youth and families and build communities, and does extensive work for the organization.

    When Genaro Hernandez passed away after a bout with cancer, Mayweather paid for the funeral. In 2012, he also paid nearly $50,000 in medical bills for a Las Vegas family whose 10-year-old son was born with a rare heart defect that required multiple surgeries.

    That's why the public and private side of Floyd Mayweather are opposites. He has carefully crafted a business persona that helps him bring in the dollars. But in private, he is very free with giving back those dollars.

    Fact or Fiction? Fiction

Mayweather Will Fight 1 Fight on Free TV

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    Floyd Mayweather Jr. signed a record deal with Showtime/CBS. He has spent much of his career attempting to promote the sport of boxing and will fight one bout on free TV on CBS.

    This would seem to make some sense given that the deal was between Mayweather and Showtime/CBS. The network, along with Golden Boy Promotions, has shown some interest in reviving boxing on network television, and what better way to do so than with the sport's biggest star?

    Sure, it would be a risk, Showtime's contract with Mayweather pays him guaranteed money, but it could make up for the revenue lost from pay-per-view by selling ads at a good clip.

    It would be great for boxing, for CBS and for Mayweather, who could give something back to the fans who have made him the biggest box office attraction in the sport.

    Fact or Fiction? Fact

Mayweather's Fights Are Boring

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    Floyd Mayweather's talent is undeniable, but his fights are just so boring. He wins with ease but could do so much more.

    This is obviously a question of personal preference. But the name of the game is boxing, not fighting, and there is no better boxer on the planet than Floyd Mayweather.

    Everyone loves an exciting, all-out war between two guys willing to throw and eat bombs all night long. That's why we loved the two fights between Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado, and why a limited fighter like Arturo Gatti will always have a place in our hearts.

    But that style isn't for everyone, and what Mayweather does the best is hit and not get hit in return. That's the name of the game. Some might not enjoy it, but it's pure boxing.

    Fact or Fiction? Fiction

Mayweather Is the Best of His Era but Not of All Time

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    Floyd Mayweather is not just the greatest fighter of his era, he's the greatest of all time.

    This statement is half-true and half-false. Mayweather is clearly the best pure boxer to come along in some time, he's never really been challenged or in danger in the ring and his accomplishments speak for themselves.

    He is the best fighter of his era and will be a first ballot entrant to the boxing Hall of Fame when he retires at the end of his current contract.

    But those who claim that he is the greatest fighter of all time need a reality check. On most lists, Floyd would have a hard time cracking the top 20, much less the top 10. And that's not a knock but an acknowledgment that he isn't Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong or Muhammad Ali.

    Is he a great? Yes. Is he the greatest of his era? Yes.

    But is he the greatest of all time? Not by a long shot.

    Fact or Fiction?

    Greatest of his era: Fact

    Greatest of all time: Fiction

Mayweather Sucker Punched Victor Ortiz

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    Floyd Mayweather beat Victor Ortiz with a sucker punch. His opponent was clearly not ready, and what Floyd did was uncalled for.

    This is one of the things most often pointed out by Mayweather's detractors as evidence of his villainous persona. But those same people often conveniently forget to tell the whole story of how this incident went down and who precipitated the end of the fight.

    In the fourth round of their Sept. 17, 2011 bout, Victor Ortiz bulled Floyd Mayweather against the ropes and out of frustration uncorked an absolutely vicious and intentional headbutt. It was a clear foul, and Ortiz knew it.

    After referee Joe Cortez deducted a point for the foul and restarted the bout, Ortiz attempted to hug Mayweather and forgot the cardinal lesson—protect yourself at all times.

    Mayweather instead delivered a combination to Ortiz's face that ended the night. Necessary? Maybe not. But uncalled for? Definitely not.

    Fact or Fiction? Fiction

Mayweather Will Retire Undefeated

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    Floyd Mayweather will fight five more times and retire with a perfect 49-0 record, tying him with Rocky Marciano.

    It's difficult to predict the future, and this one could change. Nobody knows who will emerge as a legitimate threat to Floyd Mayweather in the next 29 months that he says he has left in the ring. But right now, there doesn't appear to be anyone out there who has what it takes.

    Most people place their hopes in Canelo Alvarez, but the 22-year-old is still raw and has technical deficiencies that Mayweather would likely exploit.

    Manny Pacquiao remains a pipe dream, and most would heavily favor Mayweather anyway, and Sergio Martinez is likely just too big. Other than that, nobody even comes across as a threat, and that puts Floyd in a commanding position to retain his zero until retirement.

    Fact or Fiction? Fact