The journey, Mayweather’s boxing career has been truly remarkable. His record is unblemished. Even his questionable wins are still arguable and as of last Saturday, September 12th, Floyd Mayweather will be recorded in history books with the highest, undefeated, unblemished record of 49 wins. A record he shares with heavyweight great Rocky Marciano. To accomplish this in the modern landscape of boxing requires tremendous skill both in the ring by the fighter and outside by management. Mayweather is undoubtedly a winner and everyone loves a winner, right? Well in Mayweather’s case, not always so.
For many in boxing fandom the moment consideration for sympathy to Mayweather’s public persona dies at the claim “The Best Ever” abbreviated as “TBE”. Makes for excellent branding. Gold-emblazoned letters on caps, t-shirts undoubtedly bring in revenue and require the fighter to keep the persona going. It’s shallow and obvious and few beyond fans invested in this persona would take the claim seriously. But this claim is still the pain point.
In the ring Mayweather was something of a tired master in his latest bouts. Winning rounds more-so with quick dodging and assured body language than with any sustained offense. Always at arms reach, willing to be pressed to the ropes only to spring away and clown his opponent with a confused look to the crowd’s direction. A look as if to say, “my opponent has nothing. I can do this all night” and yet, even with that apparent confidence, no one looks more relieved at the sound of the final bell than Mayweather himself. A common feature of his bouts recently has been to do a victory lap for the last round. In his second pitched battle with Argentine puncher Marcos Maidana, that victory lap lasted the whole twelfth round and was capped off with a noticeable glance towards the fight clock to make sure the round was at a close. Indeed, Mayweather wanted his run to end, and so it has, as he dropped to his knees at the end of what will be his 49th and final bout.
To say his opponent Andre Berto was a “no-hoper” would be stating the obvious. Mayweather’s most definitive wins in recent years have been to opponents who have utterly dominated Berto on their way to fight Mayweather. Berto fights much in the same style as Mayweather, a quality that has assured his position in boxing as gatekeeper to the lucrative Mayweather himself. Despite being over-matched Berto did give a good account of himself in the early rounds. Winning those rounds, despite whatever the incredibly biased commentary would have you believe. Much of it signaling that an attempt break the record of wins against any of the young warlords of the current welterweight landscape may not going according to script. No, in this fan’s belief, the show is over.
What of the void Mayweather leaves behind? One could view this as the best time to bow out. In his own division the top young fighters like Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman are coming into their own. Contender Errol Spence, Mayweather’s anointed, just stamped another victory in the same weekend. Just south of welterweight, Terrance Crawford is gaining attention. The Middleweight division will be full of action soon with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Miguel Cotto going to battle next month and Gennady “Tripple G” Golovkin sets to continue his Tyson-like knockout run as he squares up against Canada’s own David Lemieux. Fans of the big boys at heavyweight have american titlist Deontay Wilder and Olympic Gold medalist Anthony Joshua to look to. Both tearing through the division in what fans will hope lead to an eventual showdown for undisputed status.
Even Mayweather’s historic record may not last long. Flyweight champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez is currently unblemished at 43 wins and is still a youthful 28 years of age. For comparison Mayweather is a decade older. The potential for a breakout star is there and it is primed to breakout soon. Much like Mayweather’s record the time is perfect. Out with the old and in with the new. Let the next era begin.