Mayweather KOs greatest champs

Floyd Mayweather blithely put himself at the top of the list when naming the top five boxers in the history of the sport.
Floyd Mayweather blithely put himself at the top of the list when naming the top five boxers in the history of the sport.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • In perhaps his biggest and dumbest boast, Floyd Mayweather has declared himself the greatest fighter of all time, ahead of Roberto Duran, Pernell Whitaker, Julio Cesar Chavez and Muhammad Ali.

The American, the most gifted boxer at work in his business today but clearly no historian, could find no place in his top five for the Sugar Rays - Robinson and Leonard - Henry Armstrong, Rocky Marciano or Joe Louis.

Speaking in the royal plural, he told his hosts on the Spanish boxing channel: "We not going to be biased. One thing about us is we gonna have an open mind.

"Every champion up here, I respect totally. These are the guys who paved the way for me."

Then pointing to his own image on an electronic board, Mayweather said of himself in the third person: "He's beaten more champions than any other fighter right here. He's done it in a shorter period of time than any other fighter up here. And he's done it in less fights than any other fighter up here.

"Record-breaking numbers all around the board: pay-per-view, live gate, landed punches on the highest percentage and took less punishment."

He blithely ignored the fact that there was no pay-per-view in Jack Dempsey's day, and yet Dempsey and Georges Carpentier drew the first million-dollar gate in 1921.

And that 136,274 people paid to watch Chavez fight Greg Haugen at the Azteca Stadium in 1993.

Mayweather calls himself "Money", and for good reason. He makes more of it than anyone in the history of the sport.

He is a phenomenon, but there is a case to be made that he is an even better businessman than he is a boxer - a defensive master who, through sheer weight of personality and perversity, presides in a bloodlust sport.

The 38-year-old can make a good case for being regarded as the best all-around boxer since Leonard.

Nobody can touch him - often literally - as he rolls that shoulder and coils up like a rattlesnake before striking with repetitive venom.

He has been a world champion for 17 of his 19 years as a professional.

There can be no denying, either, that the hard-won skill that has won him 48 fights has also made him the most powerful individual in boxing.

And, unless Andre Berto defies all form and logic, Mayweather will reaffirm that status on Sept 12.

However, none of this entitles Mayweather to make the outrageous claim that he is better than Robinson, Ali, Leonard or, at a pinch, Duran.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2015, with the headline 'Mayweather KOs greatest champs'. Print Edition | Subscribe