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April 22, 2013

By Doveed Linder

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is considered the pound-for-pound king of boxing by default.  When Mayweather announced his retirement in 2007 after knocking out Ricky Hatton, Manny Pacquiao took over as boxing’s brightest star with his eighth-round stoppage of Oscar De La Hoya.  When Mayweather resumed his boxing career in September of 2009, even though he won a unanimous decision over Juan Manuel Marquez, most of the boxing public still considered Pacquiao to be the #1 boxer on the scene.  In order for Mayweather to get the credit as the best boxer on the planet, many felt he had to defeat Pacquiao.  Of course, Pacquiao-Mayweather never happened, and Pacquiao largely retained his status as the mythical pound-for-pound king until he was knocked cold by Marquez in December of 2012.  When I say that Pacquiao continued to be regarded as the king, I refer to the masses. There were (and are) many Mayweather loyalists who always considered “Money” to be the best.  On a personal note, I always thought Mayweather would beat Pacquiao were they to meet in the ring, but I refused to give Mayweather the top spot until he actually defeated Pacquiao. 

The Pacquiao-Mayweather debate came to an end after Pacquiao lost to marquez, and Mayweather found himself back in the #1 spot due to the simple fact that he had previously beaten Marquez and remained undefeated.
From 2008-2012, Pacquiao deserved to be considered the pound-for-pound best in boxing because he fought with regularity against the best available competition. 

Mayweather, on the other hand, fell into a pattern of fighting once a year and engaging in selective matchmaking.  It seems his gimmick is to face B+ level opponents coming off of career best wins.  Shane Mosley seemed like a competitive fight for Mayweather when he faced him in May 2010 because Mosley had just knocked out Antonio Margarito and many people, myself included, viewed it as a good fight.  But to put things in perspective, Mosley was 38 years old and had already looked past his prime on several occasions.  In September 2011, Mayweather defeated Victor Ortiz who was coming off of a big win over Andre Berto.  Ortiz was a good opponent, but showed a great deal of mental weakness when he quit against Marcos Maidana in June of 2009.  Last May, Mayweather defeated Miguel Cotto, who had just avenged his loss to Margarito.  Although Cotto had looked good racking up wins against Yuri Foreman, Ricardo Mayorga, and then Margarito, many felt that he was “damaged goods” because of the beatings he took from Margarito in their first fight and from Manny Pacquiao shortly after.
There was nothing wrong with Mayweather facing Mosley, Ortiz, and Cotto, except for the fact that the public demanded that he fight Pacquiao.  This observation sparks the debate of whose fault it was that Pacquiao-Mayweather fell through, but that’s an argument for another time.  Here we are in 2013 and Pacquiao-Mayweather is no longer on the table.  

Mayweather is considered the pound-for-pound king of boxing and his toughest potential challenge is now world junior middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.  At this time, Mayweather-Alvarez is the biggest fight in boxing.  In my view, the only reason why the possibility of this fight hasn’t dominated headlines is the fact that the public doesn’t expect Mayweather to take it.  On May 5th, Mayweather will be facing Robert Guerrero, a fighter who fits into the same category as Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz, and Miguel Cotto.  He’s a good fighter coming off of a big win, but hardly anyone outside of his team gives him a realistic opportunity to win.  Canelo, on the other hand, would be a legitimate challenge.
One could make the argument that Mayweather has nothing left to prove and that it’s unreasonable to demand that he face a young lion at this stage of his career.  One could also make the argument that Mayweather is truly a welterweight and that he would be fighting above his natural weight.  In my view, if Mayweather has reached a point where he should not be expected to face the best possible opponent, then he should no longer be regarded as boxing’s best.  And if junior middleweight is too big for Mayweather, then why did he fight there against Oscar De La Hoya and Cotto?  I am among those who believe that Mayweather ducked Manny Pacquiao, but I could be wrong.  With Canelo on the scene, he now has the opportunity to prove that he is willing to face another elite fighter who is at the top of his game, and that he is not to blame for the Pacquiao-Mayweather debacle.  If he is not willing to face Canelo, it will only reinforce the theory that he was the one who avoided Pacquiao. 

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