Mayweather and the Myth of the 40-0 Greatness
Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is a fantastic salesman. Even just coming out of his quick retirement, after a lacklustre win over a mismatched Juan Miguel Marquez and with no current title, his name was almost immediately chanted at the end of the Pacquiao-Cotto match. Boxing fans worldwide are clamouring for a match between him and the incumbent P4P king, Manny Pacquiao.
Such is proof on how Mayweather effectively markets himself. Mayweather and his camp are quick to point out that he was the Number 1 P4P boxer prior to Pacquiao taking the mantle. Best of all he is unbeaten at 40-0, proving how great he is.
There is no question that Mayweather is a talented boxer. But does his 40-0 statistics make him "great"? Is this the true measure of a boxer's worth?
The problem with an unbeaten slate is that it does not prove anything. Just recently, Nikolai Valuev, an "unbeaten" heavyweight champion, lost out to David Haye. Despite being unbeaten, Valuev was never considered a great champion. It was only a matter of time before someone better would beat him.
Measuring boxers purely on fight statistics is flawed. Just consider the following examples:
Boxer 1 Win: 56 Loss: 5 Draw : 0 KO: 37
Boxer 2 Win: 36 Loss: 3 Draw: 1 KO: 25
Boxer 3 Win: 103 Loss: 16 Draw: 0 KO: 70
Basing it on fight statistics alone, we would rate the above boxers lower than Mayweather, especially Boxer 3 (sixteen losses is so bad!) Then again, look at who these boxers are:
Boxer 1 Muhammad Ali
Boxer 2 Sugar Ray Leonard
Boxer 3 Roberto Duran
At the end of the day, history measures a boxer's true worth not by his fight statistics but the opponents he had faced and conquered.
Muhammad Ali deserves all the accolades for winning over the likes of Liston, Foreman and Frazier, all great boxers in their own right. Sugar Ray Leonard had Hearns, Duran and Hagler. Roberto Duran is considered one of the best punchers ever, with an impressive record of 70 knockouts. All three are Boxing Hall of Fame inductees.
The problem with Mayweather is that he believes his own myth so much so that he is afraid to lose it, this clean slate of supposed superiority. He plays safe and only fights the ones he is sure to beat. Unfortunately this is preventing him from reaching his full potential, to be one of the great boxers.
There is no lack of worthy opponents for Mayweather. Boxing is having a renaissance with so many boxing talents around. Mayweather has continually been dogged by accusations of dodging worthy opponents such as Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Paul Willams and now Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao is someone already eclipsing Mayweather's popularity. Unlike him, Pacquiao has faced the best fighters in the weight divisions and have won conclusively.
If Mayweather wants to seal his legacy, he should take the chance and face Pacquiao and once and for all prove that he could beat the best out there. Mayweather needs Pacquiao rather than the other way around.
In the end, we love a boxer for his heart and his ability to face the toughest opponents rather than mere numbers that are forgotten long after memories of great encounters and victories are fondly remembered.