David Em D recently wrote a great fanpost titled "Have we ever gave Mayweather a fair shake?" that you can read here http://www.badlefthook.com/2013/5/30/4381346/have-we-ever-gave-mayweather-a-fair-and-square-shake.
I started writing a comment in response to add my opinion to the discussion, but it got very long, plus it wouldn't post anyway (something parsing a J script or some error), so I've decided to put it in my own fanpost.
I suggest you read David's fanpost first to get an idea what I'm responding to, plus he deserves the credit for starting this discussion and writing his great post that I'm just piggy backing off of, but even if you haven't you should still be able to understand what I'm talking about since I'm really responding more to the title of his post, and the central question he's asking about whether we give Floyd a fair shake in general terms, than each of his individual points. However, one specific point he made did feed into my response greatly. David wrote:
2) The halfway between (Canelo and Floyd's) divisions is 150.5, It would've been a fair thing for both to fight at this halfway but Floyd didn't force Canelo at 150.5, and before you say something, Yes I know, Floyd has fought 2 times on the 154 limit, but to be honest and to tell you the truth as I perceive it, Cotto was never a legit Jr. Middeweight, and De la Hoya was on his way to retirement.
(The bolded text is my doing). This is what I wrote in response to David's fanpost, in particular in response to the central question posed in the title and the bolded words above. Please note that the following is just my opinion, and I've made a great effort to be fair (otherwise I'd be doing an awful job trying to give an objective take on Floyd's career from a non Floyd, non Pacquiao, completely neutral fan).
DO we give Floyd a fair shake? The first thing that stuck out to me in your post posing that question is this: "And De La Hoya was on his way to retirement."
Yes, and that's the most legitimate opponent Mayweather has faced his entire career, Mayweather being the #1 P4P boxer of our era, who calls himself the greatest of all time, and even those who defend him like yourself admit that the greatest challenge he ever took was a boxer "on the verge of retirement."
So have we given him a fair shake? We've given him the #1 P4P rating, we've made him the "pay per view king," and it seems no one can point out the facts about his opponents without five other people coming to the rescue saying how amazing is he - and all this praise for a fighter whose toughest ever challenge came against a boxer on the verge of retirement, and who everyone also likes to forget has already lost a fight against Castillo where Castillo got robbed by the judges. The power punches in that fight were like 2 to 1 in favor of Castillo. Even considering the distribution of those punches, that Floyd won a majority of the opening rounds, there's no way Mayweather won that fight. Although it is fair to say he was probably injured in that fight, and he did win the rematch.
But whatever the reason for it, Floyd definitely lost that first fight, so it's disingenuous for him to say "44 have tried and 44 have failed" (plus the math is wrong), or for boxing fans to act like he's never lost.
And I know people will say "what do you mean he's lost! Look at his record! Do you see a loss dummy??" but I don't hear anyone making that argument about Timothy Bradley, and saying "well the judges get to decide, they thought he won, so he did, and we have to give him full credit for beating Pacquiao no matter what we think." No, every boxing fan knows that's not how it works for everyone else, so it shouldn't be any different for Floyd Mayweather. He lost, maybe at best drew, his (first) fight against Castillo.
But even forgetting the Castillo fight, I think for any boxer who has mostly fought only once a year, and whose toughest opponent in his career came against a boxer on the verge of retirement, to get the kind of credit Floyd has gotten, and to have some people even talk about him being potentially the greatest of all time (even if they're wrong), is more than giving him a fair shake.
This is a guy who basically has gotten a ton of credit for looking otherworldly against lesser competition. And that's fair. That's why, despite being someone who is a very harsh critic of Mayweather's opponents, I still think he's the best P4P fighter alive. It's because he just looks so much better than the fighters he's facing, even if they weren't at an elite level.
I mean Guerrero for instance, he jumped a bunch of weight classes in a relatively short time, the only welterweights he had to beat before getting the Floyd fight were the overrated Berto, who probably still would have picked him apart with his speed if he can't gotten hurt in the first round and just stood there trading with him all fight, and Selcuk Aydin, who is not even on the radar. That certainly was not a legitimate opponent for the #1 P4P fighter in the world to be facing, however Guerrero is still a world champion, still a good fighter, even if he'd probably be better off going back down to junior welterweight, and Floyd just looked so much better than him.
And that's absolutely where Floyd deserves credit, using the logic of "well Guerrero was a 'good' fighter, and Floyd looked about five times better than him, so what is 'good' times five? Probably pretty damn great." That's where he deserves credit, plus he passes the eye test.
However, there are many fighters who look supernatural against "good" fighters, and don't look that way at all when they finally meet someone on at the top level. Just look at Nonito Donaire when he finally faced someone elite in Guillermo Rigondeaux. Or look at Matthew Macklin looking impotent against Sergio Martinez, and then knocking his next opponent out in the first round. And that's why you can never know for sure how great a fighter is when the best opponent he's ever fought was a guy on the verge of retirement, no matter how great he looks against lesser competition or how great he looks to the eye test.
Floyd has never been challenged by an elite fighter, in their prime, in their best weight class. Floyd has also never been beat up and had to pull himself up off the canvas or come back from a deficit on the scorecards late to win the fight, or needed a late knockout to win and gotten it. Not only has he never been tested in terms of elite competition, but as a result of that, his heart has never really been tested in the ring either, or his resolve. And yes, that's also a credit to his boxing skills, but most of the fighters we talk about as all time greats, we remember moments from them when they did the impossible, or made a spectacular comeback, or came back from the brink of darkness to show the heart of a true champion. But with Floyd, the people who want to anoint him the greatest of all time seem to ignore all those normal criteria that we've used to judge all the other great fighters by. To his fans, Floyd seems to be immune from the normal standards used to judge all other fighters.
So in total, where does Floyd deserve credit and where does he deserve criticism, in my opinion? Where he deserves credit is for having amazing speed and defense that you can plainly see from the eye test, and from looking absolutely supernatural against lesser opponents, even if the greatest of them thus far was still someone on the verge of retirement. But it's the people who want to go farther than that, who want to ignore the level of the competition, or the age of the fighters when he fought them, or the weight factor when he fought Juan Manuel Marquez and others, so on and so forth, that are definitely going too far, in my opinion.
Floyd has amazing skills, and I'm not sure there's a "good" fighter on the planet who has a chance against him, or who Floyd wouldn't win almost every round against. However, he's also fought only once a year for a large portion of his career, much less than most the true all-time great fighters of the past, and even less than most his contemporaries, and he's also never been tested by a "great" fighter in their prime, and so he's never been put a position where he ever had to show his heart or show anything but his great skills dancing around all his lesser opponents for 12 rounds.
So the first part there is why he still deserves the #1 P4P ranking in my opinion, and the latter parts are why he also deserves criticism for the opponents he's faced over his career and the lack of challenges he's taken, and why he should never be labelled as the "greatest of all time." Does taking the Canelo fight help? It's definitely a start. Like you, I really don't like the catch weight, especially in the context of Floyd being a #1 P4P fighter calling himself the greatest of all time, because I don't know of many other greatest of all time contenders, like say Sugar Ray Robinson, that would have done a catch weight for a fight like this. However, it's definitely a start, and Floyd deserves some credit for taking this fight, although I'm not sure Canelo is quite the challenge or quite the elite fighter many others think he is. But Floyd deserves credit for taking this. The 44 fights before this? He deserves credit for almost always looking great in those fights (besides Castillo 1), but not so much for the level of opponents.
So does Floyd get a fair shake? It's just my opinion, but I think what I just wrote is an absolutely fair shake, and that any less credit than I gave him would be unfair, same as any more credit than I gave him would be unfair. And there are probably people who come out on each side of that, although I do think there are more people out there who give him more credit than what is fair than there are people who give less. At least that's what I've encountered here on Bad Left Hook (in my opinion).