Mayweather Is Truly An All-Time Great

By Tom Donelson
Updated: December 17, 2007

IOWA CITY. Ia. – How does one view Floyd Mayweather’s place in boxing history? Watching the replay of Hatton-Mayweather, the strength of Mayweather becomes obvious. In the early rounds, he popped shots with Hatton and then held before allowing Hatton a chance to move inside.

Throughout the fight, Mayweather adjusted in a tough difficult fight. He fought not just a tough brawler but a brawler with hand speed and boxing skills and in the early rounds, Hatton charges forced Mayweather to fight off the rope.

Hatton fought with intensity and that intensity forced Mayweather to fight 180 seconds of every round. Mayweather showed that he could go toe to toe with a determined foe. His superior skills determine the outcome but what this fight showed is that he could fight any style and win.

Here is one statistic to think about when thinking about Mayweather, 18-0. That is his record in championship fights. Translation: Mayweather have fought top class opponents throughout most of his career. While in this day and age of multiple championship belts, many Mayweather critics would simply say that stat is inflated and meaningless.

When you fight 18 championship fights, you are fighting contenders. You are fighting top ten fighters consistently and after years of fighting champions in five different weight divisions, it is hard to deny Mayweather his due.

Mayweather victories include top caliber fighters like Diego Corrales, Jose Castillo, Oscar De Hoya and now Ricky Hatton. His fight with Diego Corrales was one of his great masterpieces as Mayweather knocked the bigger Corrales around the ring.

Many pundits gave Corrales the edge but Mayweather speed and power proved critical in the victory. His toughest opponent was the lightweight champion, Jose Luis Castillo. In their first fight, Castillo matched Mayweather punch for punch but in the end, Mayweather boxing skills eked out a close decision.

Mayweather learned his lesson and won the second fight easier. His fight with Oscar De La Hoya was another close bout but his speed gave him the edge. What his fight with De La Hoya showed, Mayweather could find a way to win a big fight against an elite fighter.

His fight with Hatton can’t be dismissed as Mayweather defeating an overrated fighter, for Hatton has shown to be an excellent fighter in his own right. His 43-0 record was no fluke and Hatton successes in the early rounds showed that he was, indeed, a worthy competitor.

Hatton often connected with some tough shots and as HBO’s Larry Merchant noted, Mayweather athleticism saved him from hitting the canvas after being nailed by a Hatton right. Hatton controlled the real estate of the ring in the early rounds but Mayweather adopted throughout the fight with the little things.

Little things like occasionally moving a little to one side or the other and throw sharp, quick punches. Holding and disrupting Hatton’s rhythm, while looking for opportunity to counter. Mayweather is one of boxing most accurate punchers and his accuracy served him in this fight.

As the fight progressed, Mayweather’s right nailed Hatton and his defensive skills on the inside neutralize much of Hatton’s punching power. His left hook that nailed Hatton in the tenth is one of those memorable left hooks comparable to other great left hooks in boxing history.

This hook resembled the hook that Sugar Ray Robinson laid on Gene Fullmer in their second match. Mayweather closed the show and just added one more victory to his legacy.

For the past decade, Mayweather have often fought in the shadow of others and it was the others who garner the majority of the press and Mayweather the boos. His occasional surly behavior outside the ring had much to do with his reputation but it can no longer be denied — Mayweather is this generation’s best fighter.

He deserves to mention in the same breath of boxing historical greats. The one fight that remains to secure his greatness will be a fight with Miguel Cotto and while Mayweather talks retirement, the temptation of Cotto will be overwhelming.

Cotto will be final stanza in what has been a great career.