More than a year after he retired from active competition, Floyd Mayweather remains one of boxing’s most discussed figures. On any given day, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds overflow with arguments about whether or not the undefeated, five-division champion is indead TBE–The Best Ever.
Personally, I am not inclined to grant him that status. I think a reasonable assessment places him somewhere in the top 20 to 25. Sugar Ray Robinson is the best pound-for-pound fighter who ever lived. Henry Armstrong is second. I do not even see a lot of room for debate on those two spots. I place Muhammad Ali at three. I would put Mayweather well behind Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns. I would place him behind Roy Jones Jr., as well.
Mayweather does stand alongside Willie Pep, Pernell Whitaker and Nicolino Locche as one of the great defensive wizards in the history of the sport. And he is in unquestionably the most talented fighter of his generation.
After making easy work of Manny Pacquiao last year, the only truly interesting matchup left for him is undefeated middleweight king Gennady Golovkin. Golovkin has offered in the past to go to 154 for that fight, where Mayweather retired as the lineal champ. Mayweather has not appeared particularly interested in facing the larger man.
But there are signs that his interest in GGG has grown over the past year. As reported by BoxingScene’s Edward Chaykovsky, Mayweather told assembled reporters in Las Vegas last weekend that Kell Brook “exposed” Golovkin when they fought in September. Mayweather added “you know what would have happened if that was me.”
Brook did indeed give Golovkin some problems during their fight and won at least two of the first four rounds. But he also got his orbital bone broken, rendering him unable to continue and putting him out of action for an unspecified amount of time.
I have no doubt that Mayweather could box circles around Golovkin, for significant portions of any fight between them. But Mayweather’s lead right, that he has always used so effectively to discipline his smaller opponents, would not be likely to register on Golovkin’s iron jaw. Ultimately, I just don’t see Mayweather keeping GGG off from him for an entire 12 rounds. Not on 37-year-old legs.
But if he could do it, it would certainly add significantly to his pound-for-pound resume.