Sunday, May 5, 2013

There's good and then there's great!


If there is one pet peeve I have, it is how easily the word "great" is tossed around to describe a fighter, whether it be in boxing or MMA; this also applies to athletes in general. I think the adjective "great" is used way too loosely when talking about an athlete's, or in this case, a fighter's skill level. In sports, as in life in general, there are many good performers and then there are the chosen few who are truly great.

In Floyd 'Money' Mayweather, Jr., we are truly witnessing greatness when it comes to boxing and arguably the greatest ever. I say arguably because to hear Floyd tell it, he is the greatest. However, I'm not ready to afford him that title; especially taking into consideration some of the truly great ones that have come before him. Yet, at (44-0, 26 KO's) he clearly has to be in the discussion; especially after the dominating performance he put on Saturday night.

How dominating was it? Mayweather took a former three-division world champion in Robert 'The Ghost' Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KO's) and made him look average at best. That is no slight towards Guerrero, it is just what Mayweather does; he takes really good fighters and makes them look bad. Count the fighters, look at the names and you'll see Guerrero is just the latest in a long line.

What made Saturday night's performance even more impressive is that he did it after a year away from the ring and a three month stint behind bars last summer. Ring rust? I don't think so. Truth is I'd argue that the jail sentence actually benefited Mayweather. Not from an emotional or spiritual standpoint mind you, but physically.

People keep trying to make an issue about his age, pointing out that he's now 36 years old. I am quick to respond that he's had just five fights in the last five years; one a year. That means he has not taken a physical toll on his body, especially when no one has really put any type of hurt on him. Add those three months in jail, where he claims he was confined 23 out of 24 hours a day, and I say while it may not be beneficial emotionally, physically he received much needed and forced rest; not just from boxing, but his extracurricular life in general.

At 36, he is six years older than Guerrero, but naturally gifted with speed, he has not lost a step. On Saturday night he was so fast in comparison to his opponent, that I remarked to someone, "Guerrero's reaction time to Mayweather's punches is so slow, he's finally responding on Tuesday."

As for being "The Greatest," I suggest such is not the case because I believe others in the discussion took far more dangerous fights and chances throughout their career. Sure Mayweather has fought quality opponents, but he never fought Manny Pacquiao, regardless of whose fault it was, when he should have and he refuses to address the potential 'Canelo' Alvarez fight; at least not yet.

The Pacquiao fight within the last three or four years during their prime would have settled any debate between the sports two greatest competitors at the time. Also, while I feel at this point Alvarez may be too strong and young to possibly overcome, the reward for taking such a risk and coming out the victor would do wonders for his standing.

Instead he dealt with Juan Manuel Marquez, who was clearly a blown up 140 pounder, an over the hill Shane Mosley, an overmatched Victor Ortiz and Guerrero, which we found out is clearly not in his league. He did fight Miguel Cotto last year at 154 lbs., but the future Hall of Famer hasn't been the same fighter since his two beatings at the hands of Antonio Margarito and Pacquiao.

That said though, in Mayweather's defense, who else was or is there? During the same period Pacquaio also fought Cotto, Mosley, Marquez twice, Margarito (who was exposed after being caught cheating), an outclassed Joshua Clottey (has anyone heard from him since) and current champ Timothy Bradley. So by comparison shopping, Mayweather did what he had to, and unlike Pacquiao, won all his fights; Pac-Man suffered the decision loss to Bradley and the decimation by Marquez in his last fight.

The only reason for the Pacquiao comparison was to show there really wasn't much more Mayweather could do in the last five years. However, if he plans to continue fighting, he has to find something or someone that will solidify his legacy; I think at this point outclassing Alvarez would do just that. Believe me, anyone who knows me knows I'm far from a Mayweather fan; but what's right is right and in this case there's good and then there's great!

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