Floyd’s past achieve­ments are mag­nif­i­cent, but box­ing will be bet­ter off with­out this ver­sion of him

Boxing News - - Contents - Matt Christie @Mattcbox­ingnews Ed­i­tor

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

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