If one were to ask Floyd Mayweather, Jr. where he stands in the ranks of boxing history, Mayweather would be quick to say that he is the best of all time. While Mayweather is certainly one of the best in this era, he is not the best, or even one of the best, of all time.
And for that, Mayweather has no one to blame but himself.
Mayweather certainly has the tools to be one of the best. He is the most gifted defensive fighter in the sport. He is probably the smartest boxer out there. Very few have the discipline of Mayweather outside of the ring. He stays in shape all year and doesn't drink or smoke.
But, to be considered with Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson, Mayweather needs to test those tools on a consistent basis and he hasn't done that in some time.
Mayweather thinks more like a manager than he does a boxer that wants to be remembered as the greatest of all time. He talks about being the best, but his actions are of a fighter that wants to protect his 41-0 record.
Ali, Louis and Robinson are remembered among the best of all time because they took on all comers and defeated most of them. None of the men finished their careers undefeated, but that doesn't matter to fans. Former heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano finished his career undefeated at 49-0 but no one mentions his name as being one of the best of all time.
History remembers fighters that take on challenges.
When Mayweather fought Shane Mosley in May, many considered it to be the first real challenge he accepted since fighting Jose Luis Castillo in 2002.
Between the Castillo and Mosley fights, Mayweather fought the likes of Victoriano Sosa, Phillip N'dou and Henry Bruseles.
He also fought name opponents like Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah, Carlos Baldomir, Ricky Hatton and Juan Manuel Marquez. But all of those carefully picked opponents had major disadvantages. Gatti and Baldomir didn't have enough skills to compete with Mayweather. Hatton and Marquez came up in weight to fight Mayweather. Judah lost what was supposed to be a tune-up bout against Baldomir right before the Mayweather fight.
Mayweather also "retired" for a couple of years after knocking out Hatton. Many feel that it was to avoid fighting Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto. Margarito had been calling out Mayweather whenever he had the chance. It was reported that Mayweather even turned down a guaranteed $8 million to fight Margarito, the biggest purse up to that point in his career. Cotto was undefeated then, and everyone wanted to see the two undefeated fighters go at it.
Mayweather announced he was coming back after Margarito brutally knocked out Cotto in July of 2008 and was then knocked out, himself, in his next fight against Mosley in January of 2009. To make matters worse, Margarito would then be suspended for being caught trying to load his gloves for the Mosley fight.
Now, Mayweather is holding up a showdown with Manny Pacquiao. This is the second time a fight hasn't been made. The first negotiations fell through after Pacquiao refused to do Olympic-style blood testing as Mayweather wanted. As a result, Pacquiao fought and defeated Joshua Clottey and Mayweather fought and defeated Mosley.
This past week, it was reported that Pacquiao agreed to the drug-testing in the second round of negotiations. But the proposed November fight fell through again, after Mayweather's camp said there had been no negotiations for a November bout. Instead, Pacquiao will fight Margarito in November.
Whether negotiations happened or not, whether Pacquiao agreed to the drug-testing or not, there was no reason to not get a fight done. Mayweather looks like he doesn't want to fight Pacquiao or wants to put this fight off as long as he can and wait for Pacquiao to look more vulnerable in the ring.
There is nothing wrong with anything that Mayweather has done. It’s his career and he can fight anyone he wants. However, he needs to understand that calling yourself the best of all time doesn’t make you the best of all time. That distinction is earned in the ring, by fighting and defeating quality opponents. While Mayweather has squandered opportunities to do that over the years, there is still time for him to take on this challenge. But he must stop thinking like a manager and more like a fighter.
Until Mayweather does this, he will be considered good, but not greatest of all time.