The coming Mayweather-Pacquiao fight will set a number of records including live gate receipts, broadcast rights fees and pay per view purchases among others. The build-up to the fight is reminiscent of the first Ali-Frazier fight at the mecca of boxing, New York City’s Madison Square Garden. And while the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in no MSG it is, for this generation, the new mecca of the sweet-science. Never in the history of boxing, Ali-Frazier I included, have so many articles and in depth journalistic pieces been written. This fight is truly “one for the ages,” and if Mayweather pulls it off, an objective, dispassionate, rational, numbers-oriented case must be made for Money May’s best-ever status.
The combatants in this fight are well regarded as the greatest fighters of their generation, and in one Floyd Mayweather, Jr. one has perhaps one of the top three pugilists of all time. Boxing historians and aficionados alike are quick to put Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson at the top but as Money May finishes up his stellar career, it is obvious to these self-same historians that he deserves to be, if not shoulder-to-shoulder with these luminaries, only slightly behind.
If he beats Manny Pacquiao a legitimate case can and should be made that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the best fighter to have ever laced up the gloves. While the occasional traditionalist will scoff, the current generation going forward understands that numbers do not lie and in beating Pacquiao he beats not just a great fighter, but himself one of the greats of all time.
As Mayweather threatens to have one maybe two fights left it goes without saying that this generation will never see the likes of Floyd Jr. again. As hard as it may be for some to hear, the truth is that while Mayweather has been hailed as a great fighter, his skill-set may have actually been grossly undervalued, estimated and appreciated. Great fighters of the past and present watch him fight and stand amazed at his fluid movement and balance, his without-peer defensive skills and most importantly, Money May’s intellectual firepower. Indeed, Floyd Jr. is the thinking-man’s fighter as he always, without exception, finds a way to win.
Say what one will about his character, his ability is breathtaking, and the manner in which Money executes and carries himself is the stuff of pure poetry. When great fighters watch and shake their heads in disbelief it becomes clear that not only is something special happening, someone special is among us.
As a case-on-point, one need only watch the seeming ease with which Mayweather utterly dominated the very gifted Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, a fighter with world-class ability. Watching Mayweather so dominate and make it look easy forced the objective observer to admit that, similar to Ali’s destruction of Cleveland Williams in Houston back in 1967, one just might have been witness to a living, breathing, organic case for best-ever status. While it is true that Money is getting old as a fighter, that his hands are relatively brittle, that his legs are very much diminished and his punch has softened, the one thing that he will need to beat an aggressive and equally world-class fighter in Pacquiao is the one thing only time and tenure can give to a fighter; in-fight critical thinking skills.
Come May 2, Mayweather will, because of his age-related diminishing skill-set and tools, find that he will need to think himself through the fight. That is, as the always formidable and dangerous Pacman plies his destructive trade Money will find that the pace is fast and that he needs to stand and fight. It is here that the true intellectual greatness of the man will be tested, and if legitimate, will shine through. Mayweather has demonstrated over the many years an uncanny ability to sit back intellectually and take the big and small pictures in and process same and come up with an adjusted and appropriate game plan.
While the first Castillo fight appeared to test Mayweather in a decided fashion, it was pure intellectual firepower and the ability to adjust that got him not only the win, but helped him absolutely dominate Castillo in the second fight. While Money is not formally educated, his display of intellectual prowess is the stuff of legend, the kind that fellow pugilists and academic luminaries can only dream of. And while many see his defense-first strategy as a timid man’s approach, it is the thinking man that will see that one can win in spectacular fashion while not actually get hit in return thus preserving the brain for the life after boxing.
Mayweather’s relative greatness as a fighter is additionally on display in any interview one chooses to watch. That is, after an extensive amateur career and a professional career with forty seven fights, Money May is one of the more cerebral, intellectually inclined, erudite and articulate people you will find inside-or-out of the sporting world. Listen to the nuance with which he advances an argument or breaks down thoughts, facts and issues and one gets the sense that his brain works faster than others and is entirely more efficient in processing thoughts than any other fighter behind not only a micro-phone but within the squared circle.
In the end, Money is going to be sorely tested by the vicious and legitimately dangerous Manny Pacquiao whose skill-set, generationally speaking, has been second only to his own. If Mayweather can climb this unclimbable mountain, indeed, overcome the seemingly impossible task that is beating the legitimately great Manny Pacquiao, it will be high time for the gainsaying to stop and the objective case be made that, sans all politically informed nay-saying, Mayweather is not just the best of his generation, his status as “the best ever” is legitimate and well deserved. Indeed, if Mayweather ends up victorious this coming May 2, then Cinco de Mayo will truly turn into Cinco de Mayweather and all will have to admit that, like his self-styled moniker, Mayweather will truly be, “the best-ever.”
Commentary By Matthew R. Fellows