Floyd Mayweather clearly sits upon the mythical pound for pound throne at this time. He has worked his way up the ladder with a tremendous amount of skill and determination, while also showing savvy marketing and clever matchmaking. It is well known that he just finished the first fight of his 30 month contract with Showtime, at which point he claims he will retire. Floyd likes to refer to himself as the greatest to ever lace up a pair of gloves, even though we all know that is obviously not the case. However, where exactly does he match up and what can he do with the rest of his career to enhance his legacy?
Floyd is coming off of a dominating performance over Robert Guerrero. One of the things that makes Floyd great is his ability to adjust in the ring, and this night was no exception. In the first round he came out throwing the right hand and rolling under and out, just like he did against Victor Ortiz, but The Ghost had an answer for that. When Floyd tried to roll under Guerrero stepped in and answered with a left uppercut that was landing nicely, Mayweather made his adjustment halfway through the second round. Instead of throwing the right hand and rolling under, he stayed right in the pocket and utilized his defense. Guerrero didn't have an answer for it and Floyd's right hand became the story of the night. Because Floyd has the ring IQ to be able to adjust to any style, he can give anyone trouble. Yet, we also have to keep his level of opposition in mind.
Even though he has beat everyone they put in front of him, Mayweather has clearly avoided some fighters throughout his career. In my opinion at 130 and 135 Floyd could compete, and possibly win, against anyone from any era. I'm not suggesting he would beat everyone and he is the greatest lightweight ever, but he had the ability to beat anyone and his name has to be in the discussion. However, once he moved up in weight, his abilities haven't been the same. Even though he always likes to make an excuse for not getting the knockout (hand hurt, didn't go for it early enough etc.) the facts are Floyd can't punch at the higher weights. Look at how many clean shots he caught a small Juan Manuel Marquez with and he couldn't get him out of there. The same thing foes for his fights with Miguel Cotto and Guerrero, he caught them all night with extremely clean, accurate punches, but couldn't end it early.
We can make the argument that Floyd is not as good of a fighter at the higher weights as he is when lighter, but one thing that should not be up for debate is his dodging of opponents over the years. Floyd never fought a prime: Shane Mosley, Cotto, Margarito, Paul Williams, Kosta Tszyu and of course...Manny Pacquiao, just to name a few. The truth is, I think Floyd could have beat all those guys in their prime, but we'll never know because he failed to test himself against the best of his era. After his last fight he came out and said that the competition he has isn't as good as in generations past and it isn't his fault, but that's garbage. He has had better opportunities over the years and has chosen to pass them up. Of course, he likes to justify his actions by saying all the decisions he made were about the money. Maybe he's telling the truth and maybe he isn't, but either way he didn't fight the best he could have consistently and that tarnishes his record.
Mayweather recently announced that on September 14, 2013 he will be squaring off against Canelo Alvarez in Las Vegas. Floyd is the better fighter going in, but this won't be a walk down easy street. Canelo is a big strong, fighter with fast hands and good power, but Floyd is too smart. Floyd should be able to win the fight with a superior skill level and ring IQ. Canelo has a lot of holes in his defense and Mayweather should be able to pick them apart. However, Canelo won't be dominated for 12 rounds. He will have some good moments during the fight when he is able to impose himself on Mayweather. But, one thing that should be noted is that this fight is being fought at a catch weight of 152. Over the years Mayweather has been very vocal in his criticism of Pacquiao for fighting guys at catchweights. Particularly during the HBO 24/7 series leading up to his fight with Cotto. Funny how that works. With a win over Alvarez, who will likely go on to have a Hall of Fame worthy career, Floyd's star will continue to grow as Canelo looks better and better. That is just another example of the clever marketing and matchmaking.
I know some will think I am being overly critical, especially at the last comment I made. I think Floyd, under the direction of Al Haymon, has a very carefully orchestrated career. I don't say that to take away from his skill level, but when viewed under a microscope it is obvious that Floyd is managing his career down to the slightest detail. That being said, every fighter can choose to pursue his career in his own way, but when you do that you can't also turn around and claim to be the greatest ever, it doesn't work that way.
In a way, I'm both upset and disappointed in Floyd. Over the last 10 years he had the ability to bring us some phenomenal fights, but as fans we have been cheated out of that. Imagine Floyd against a prime Miguel Cotto at 147, before his first fight with Margarito. With the amount of trouble Cotto gave him years later, clearly not at the same level anymore, we can only assume the fight would have been better. Unfortunately, those are the things I think about when I think about Floyd Mayweather. While it doesn't take away from the great things he has accomplished in the ring, I always think of what could have been.