By Superstar Billy Graham
The Superstar will get this out of the way, Floyd Mayweather Jr has won 5 titles from 5 different weight classes, while also winning 9 world titles. Manny Pacquiao has won 7 titles from 7 different weight classes, a world record. Also Manny is the only boxer in history to have won 4 lineal titles from 4 different weight classes, another record. This could be seen as a push. The Superstar will just leave it at that.
We already know the Boxing Writers Association of America has chosen Manny Pacquiao as the fighter of the decade. It is a distinguished award considering it is only awarded once every 10 years to one boxer in all of boxing. We hear arguments from the Floyd Mayweather fans that Manny is not the true fighter of the decade but Floyd Jr should have been given this award because he is undefeated. Actually being undefeated for a decade doesn’t necessarily make you a lock for fighter of the decade. Ricardo Lopez fought for 16 years and has never tasted defeat in all of his 52 bouts, has never been awarded fighter of the decade. Brian Nielsen a Danish boxer who was undefeated nearly for 10 years wasn’t awarded fighter of the decade. It wasn’t until his 50th fight were he finally tasted his first defeat.
The criteria to be fighter of the decade is beating the best fighters of your class. Bottomline, top quality fights with top quality opponents. Some say Floyd fought better opponents and some say Manny ‘s fought better opponents. But nonetheless, they fought some quality opponents. But what may have been Floyd’s undoing is what Floyd did to himself. It is definitely not the lack skills that didn’t win him fighter of the decade. Floyd’s skill is considered to be the one of the best in boxing history. Everyone is in total agreement, Floyd possesses exceptional boxing skills.
What cost Floyd the title of fighter of the decade is the choices of fights he made and the quality of opponents he has fought in the last 5 years. From Henry Bruseles, DeMarcus Corley, Sharmba Mitchell, and even Arturo Gatti. Zab Judah was a heavy 10 to 1 favorite to beat Carlos Baldomir, lost. It was considered the upset of the year. So Floyd decided to take on Zab Judah who just lost to Carlos Baldomir. Many felt Floyd shouldn’t have chosen a fighter who just lost, and he should have chosen another fighter who is currently hot in his division. Carlos Baldomir the lineal welterweight champion, was crushed by Floyd Mayweather Jr. But what made the fight so anti-climatic is how Floyd was easily dominating Baldomir but failed to deliver the knock out to an opponent who was ripe for a knock out . It was a overall consensus and complaints that Floyd should have knocked out Baldomir who was clearly not on the same level as Floyd. Great fighters knock out severely out classed fighters. You do not let them hang around to the 12th round. Or else a lucky punch will land and next thing you know, the guy who is way ahead in the score cards is now kissing the canvas. Some have said it was because Floyd had injured his hands but Floyd had plenty of opportunity to give Baldomir the big kiss to the canvas.
Then we come to the fight with Oscar De La Hoya, billed as “The World Awaits”. This was a controversial fight for which Floyd won by a 12th round split decision. From what The Superstar observed, it was clear Oscar was getting tagged almost at will by Floyd. Although Oscar had Floyd in danger a couple of times, Floyd constantly frustrated Oscar to a point Oscar stopped throwing his famous jabs. It was crystal clear, Floyd earned that win, no matter how lackluster it was. Oscar and Floyd failed to deliver any excitement to this fight considering it was given one of biggest hype in boxing history. The fight didn’t match the hype. Floyd was classic Floyd, making the opponent miss, and using his surgical precision punches.
The next bout was undefeated UK fighter Ricky Hatton. Hatton who at that time was the IBO light welterweight champion. This fight was billed as the battle of the undefeated. The only criticism Floyd got for this fight is choosing a smaller fighter. Floyd decided to go back to welterweight and instead of taking on another welterweight, Floyd chose a smaller fighter from a smaller weight division. Even though it is just one weight class smaller Floyd should not have toiled with that idea. Fight those who are in your weight class. Again, there were other challenging welterweights that Floyd could have chosen but instead opted to fight a smaller fighter from a smaller weight division.
On 2008, Floyd was expected to battle Oscar De La Hoya again for a rematch. Floyd originally agreed for a rematch against Oscar, but instead opted to retire. This would have been another lucrative pay day for Floyd but instead Floyd decided to retire which many led to believe he is ducking Oscar because Oscar nearly defeated him on their first meeting. But The Superstar believes Oscar would have met the same fate if they had the rematch.
On 2009, right after Manny Pacquiao nearly put Ricky Hatton into a permanent coma, Floyd decided to come out of retirement. But instead of taking an opponent in his weight class, Floyd chose Juan Manuel Marquez who is a lightweight fighter. Again, the detractors of Floyd began to question Floyd’s decision on why he is choosing smaller fighters from a smaller weight class. This has been the criticism following Floyd , choosing less than challenging fights. Fights that don’t test his great exceptional skills and where the risk is so minimal. In the eyes of many, this truly painted Floyd badly. Especially when Floyd was bragging and boasting on how he easily beat Juan Manuel Marquez who gave Manny Pacquiao problems.
But what Floyd didn’t know, people who follow boxing really close knew this was not a true legitimate test for Floyd. Choosing a fighter just one year before Juan Manuel Marquez fought Floyd was fighting at his best weight class which is super featherweight, the weight class Manny Pacquiao fought Juan Manuel Marquez. And another damaging evidence, making the Juan Manuel Marquez jump 2 weight classes while Floyd stayed at the same weight class. Instead of meeting half way which would have been light welterweight division where Floyd is forced to go down one weight class and Juan Manuel Marquez go up 1 weight class instead of 2, it could have been seen more of a legitimate fight and somewhat fair.
But Floyd wanted to fight Juan Manuel Marquez at welterweight and agreed to at least meet an agreed catchweight at 144 lbs. However, Floyd didn’t meet the agreed catchweight and came in 2 lbs over the catchweight. So if we all access this from point A to point B, Floyd clearly took every advantage of the situation, leaving Juan Manuel Marquez as a sacrificial lamb led to the slaughtering. Juan Manuel Marquez who had to go up 2weight classes, weight classes for which Juan Manuel Marquez has never worked, then Floyd not meeting the agreed catchweight surely spelled disaster for Juan Manuel Marquez. Floyd purposely stacked everything against the smaller fighter Juan Manuel Marquez. It was an over kill in every sense. The people who follow boxing very close knew right away this is not the type of calibre fight befitting the exceptional boxing skills of Floyd Mayweather Jr. All this fight did for Floyd was raise more questions and supplied more ammunition to his critics regarding the fights he is choosing.
Now if we also add Floyd had retired twice in the decade, Manny continually fought since turning professional 16 years ago. And Floyd having fought only 2 times in the last 3 years (before Mosley), the inactivity and the retirement, we already know and learned boxing waits for nobody. We all have heard the same saying “boxing didn’t wait for the great Muhammad Ali”. So Floyd’s inactivity and retirement, that is when Manny Pacquiao took ahold of boxing, fought great fighters with impressive knock outs, and earned fighter of the decade. From the year 2000 to 2009, Manny Pacquiao has lost only once and has dominated fighters who are either in his weight class or above his weight class. Also adding majority of Manny Pacquiao’s opponents were either the same size or bigger. More importantly, the quality of opponents Manny fought were some of the who’s who in boxing. Fighters that have cemented themselves with Hall of Fame credentials. And knocking them out surely added more glitter to his record. If Floyd hadn’t retired, who knows who would have won fighter of the decade. But if The Superstar had to put money in it, The Superstar would put his money on Manny Pacquiao.
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