Floyd’s past achievements are magnificent, but boxing will be better off without this version of him
Mayweather’s legacy is one of a kind
FLOYD MAYWEATHER will one day miss boxing, and boxing will one day miss him. For now though, the veteran’s decision to retire from the sport is the right move for all involved. Unquestionably the greatest fighter of his generation, Mayweather was a genius and a trailblazer but superstardom – as is the case for so many who achieve it – almost ruined what made him so special in the first place.
Watching the wizardry of Mayweather at his best was aweinspiring. The savage destruction of Diego Corrales. Slamming Ricky Hatton off the turnbuckle. Winning every round against Juan Manuel Marquez. Dominating Canelo Alvarez. The emphatic neutralisation of Manny Pacquiao. Few fighters have made the sport look as easy as Floyd has, but at the weekend he went out of his way to make it look as difficult as possible.
Mayweather’s ‘fight’ with Conor Mcgregor – and goodness me, I’m glad it’s all over – has to be the final straw, because no fighter should ever be allowed to do the hokey cokey with boxing like Mayweather has for several years. Rules bent, regulations stretched, rah rah rah. It’s difficult to give him the send-off his achievements deserve after that farewell but, in time, he’ll be appreciated as he should be, and his great career will not be defined by his final fight, because great careers never are.
Floyd previously announced it was the end in September 2015 following a lopsided points victory over Andre Berto to take his record to 49-0. Equalling Rocky Marciano’s unbeaten tally against the undeserving Berto angered many purists, but that was nothing compared to what came next as he joined forces with Mcgregor to beat it. Along the way, thanks to the biggest hype job in boxing history, the pair convinced the world the contest was worthwhile. On the surface, the mission can be deemed a success as the pantomime smashed pay-per-view records. And as an event, as a fighting exhibition, it was perfectly entertaining.
But it wasn’t boxing, not really. Despite that incredible interest, such matchups are the last thing the sport needs if it’s to remain credible. We do not need a series of ludicrous mismatches that are appealing only because everyone loves an underdog; just because people will buy something doesn’t mean it should be put up for sale. There has to be barriers and laws and common sense. Mayw eat hermc greg or lacked all three, and we should be thankful the contest passed without any real incident or injury. We can therefore forgive and forget but must always remember this: Top boxers should only ever fight top boxers.
And it’s clear that Mayweather hasn’t wanted to do that for a while. There are fascinating challenges out there for him – Keith Thurman and Errol Spence Jnr spring to mind – yet he will know better than anyone that he’s on the decline. He will not risk losing the torch, but by retiring, at least he is ready to pass it on. That Mayweather-mcgregor was shoved into the schedule just three weeks before the exquisite pairing of Gennady Golovkin and Canelo also sticks in the throat but, at last, the boxing world can now turn all its attention to that showdown.
Will he stay retired? Probably, but a comeback can only be ruled out when he’s too old to make one. Now 40, and with his skills at the point of no return, this announcement does seem to be genuine. But, like always, anything goes. While he looks set to earn around $350m for his latest escapade, it’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that in a few years’ time, Mayweather will need more money and his ego a refresher. For the time being, Mayweather remains just one in a long line of boxers to beat Marciano’s record ( Julio Cesar Chavez was once 87-0, for example), but once the dust settles, providing there isn’t another Mcgregortype fiasco in the debris, he will take his rightful place in history as one of the best there ever was.
DIFFERENT LEAGUE: Mayweather is clearly superior to Mcgregor
Cover photography ESTHER LIN/SHOWTIME