Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Mayweather vs Mosley
By Mark Staniforth, PA Sport
Floyd Mayweather says he is a better boxer than Muhammad Ali or Sugar Ray Robinson.
But, approaching his fight against 38-year-old Shane Mosley on Saturday night, he has a funny way of trying to prove it.
"What makes them [Ali and Robinson] any better than I am?" said Mayweather.
"Muhammad Ali is one hell of a fighter but Floyd Mayweather is the best. Sugar Ray Robinson is one hell of a fighter but Floyd Mayweather is the best."
The cold fact is until Mayweather puts aside the excuses which scuppered his earlier negotiations with Manny Pacquiao, the fact is he cannot realistically be considered to be the best of his era, let alone the best of all time.
You might call his fight against Mosley an exercise in boxing cynicism. Since losing to Miguel Cotto in 2007, Mosley has fought just once a year, scoring stoppage wins over faded Ricardo Mayorga and discredited Antonio Margarito.
By virtue of his super-fast skills of old and the heap of world titles at his disposal, Mosley is a big name in US boxing so it was no surprise when he was plucked from the bunch of possible contenders for Mayweather's latest comeback.
There was a time perhaps three years ago when Mosley would surely have given Mayweather a real run for his money. One could say the same for Miguel Cotto, who never got a look-in on Mayweather's itinerary and is now a busted flush.
You can tell the folk around the fight are a little desperate, because they have launched a website specifically for the purpose of totalling votes for the winner - implying a pick 'em fight, but suggesting deep down they know it is anything but.
Mayweather should win with consummate ease, and lo and behold a fight against Pacquiao will magically appear on the horizon, the pair of them richer by a score or so million as a direct result of their alleged bickering.
It is not until that night that Mayweather will finally get the chance to prove he truly belongs in the pantheon inhabited by the likes of Ali and Robinson, both of whom beat off the best of the rest of numerous competitive eras.
Where is Mayweather's epic Joe Frazier trilogy? His St Valentine's Day Massacre? Arguably his best win came way back in 1998 when he exhibited his blazing hand speed to devour Genaro Hernandez via eighth round stoppage.
He beat a weight-drained Diego Corrales, a past-it Arturo Gatti, a not-up-to-it Ricky Hatton, and a too-slow Oscar De La Hoya. A harsh judgement, perhaps, but not in the context of his boast to be an all-time great.
Boxing in the US, for all its undoubted resurgence in recent years, most of it due to the breath of fresh air provided by De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, is in danger of flailing under the weight of what helped it come back in the first place.
Serving up big-name bouts is one thing but not when the public are so easily misled into believing that just because someone is a recognisable enough public face it therefore qualifies him for a shot other fighters would dream of.
Mosley is no slouch but neither is he Pacquiao: a ferocious fighter at the top of his game. Neither is he Edwin Valero, who died tragically last week without ever getting even a sniff of a chance to show his potential.
Valero was the type of fighter whom the current boxing big-shots have nightmares about: possessing both the crippling disadvantage of virtual anonymity with the curse of being an explosive puncher anyone in their right mind would run a mile from.
If Mayweather truly wants to put himself up there as a contender for the mantle of the greatest ever, he should not be dipping out of so-called retirement once a year for pay-per-view showpiece fights against the likes of Mosley.
"I can't see how a guy like Mosley can even call himself great," said Mayweather this week.
"I can't see how Mosley can talk about putting himself as a future Hall of Famer. He is a solid welterweight."
The question, then, is what precisely Mayweather is doing sharing the Las Vegas ring with just a "solid welterweight" on Saturday night.
In the answer may lie the truth about usurping Ali and Robinson will remain a fanciful notion for some time yet.