Mayweather is fighting for his legacy.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been at the peak of his sport for the better part of a decade. Forty-three would-be conquerors have tried and failed to beat him. For a fighter so great, what could people question about him?
The quality of Mayweather's opposition is what his detractors use to spew their venom at him.
Mayweather has been accused for years of avoiding a fight with Manny Pacquiao. Did he really avoid him? Or were there other reasons why the fight didn't happen?
Regardless of the backstage intrigue, it is a stain on Mayweather's legacy that he didn't fight Pacquiao. It would have silenced all of the critics regarding his quality of opponents in the later part of his career. That being said, the notion that Mayweather has fought no one is absolute garbage.
In the beginning of his career, Mayweather fought a murderer's row of excellent fighters. His victories at junior lightweight and lightweight include: Genaro Hernandez, Angel Manfredy, Gregorio "Goyo" Vargas, Diego Corrales, Carlos Hernandez, Jesus Chavez, Jose Luis Castillo twice and Phillip N'dou.
Six former world champions fell victim to the "Pretty Boy." He crushed them all. This was the most dominant he has ever looked.
No fighter in boxing fought better opponents during the period of 1998-2003 than Mayweather did.
The stretch from 2004-2007 is where you can critique a few of his opponents.
DeMarcus Corley, Henry Bruseles, Arturo Gatti to a point and Sharmba Mitchell had no business being in the ring with him. Zab Judah and Carlos Baldomir were worthy fighters who were still viable at that time. Mayweather's advantages over them meant they had little chance of winning, and they put up little resistance.
It was an OK part of his career, there were no real challenges during this time.
2007 to the Present
Starting with the Oscar De La Hoya fight, Mayweather has had seven fights in the last six years. His opponents have included: Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Miguel Cotto. These are big names, but some of them were getting long in the tooth.
How faded these fighters were is subject to speculation and debate. Some will say they were handpicked for that reason. Others will say it is because Mayweather made them look bad. The truth is probably somewhere in between.
His best victories during this time have been against young fighters in their primes.
Ricky Hatton, Victor Ortiz and Robert Guerrero are the best opponents that Mayweather has faced during this period. He beat all of them handily. These are the types of fights that Mayweather should be taking at this point in his career.
Canelo Alvarez represents the biggest and strongest opponent of Mayweather's career. The contrast in styles means that Mayweather will have to work for a victory.
A victory over Alvarez would silence most, if not all of his critics.
Mayweather is fighting the most dangerous fighter that he has ever faced. He should be commended for taking a risk like this. What is on the line for him is his place in history.
I would put Mayweather in the top 25 fighters of all time based on talent and because he has beaten good opposition over the course of his career. Mayweather has to beat another top fighter to move up the list. Alvarez is the type of victory that can define his career.
When Mayweather and Alvarez get in the ring, both will be fighting for something. Alvarez is fighting for Mexico. Mayweather says he loves money. What he also loves is his legacy. He will be defending it on September 14. This fight will either be the crowning achievement of his career, or Alvarez will destroy the aura of invincibility that Mayweather has cultivated.
Boxing fans can't wait to find out when the bell rings. Whatever happens, a legacy will be enhanced or crushed. Mayweather controls his own destiny, and we may see a performance for the ages—one that is as sweet as sugar.
*All information courtesy of boxrec.com.