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Why Mayweather can lay claim to being the greatest ever - Peter Leopeng

The argument about who the greatest boxer ever was will continue for as long as there are passionate boxing fans. This debate was brought back to life when Floyd Mayweather junior declared shortly before his fight with Shane Moseley that he was not just the greatest boxer of this generation, but of all time. Mayweather went on to compare himself with the likes of Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson, two boxers that always make the grade whenever the phantom title of the greatest boxer ever is being muted.

What will always make it difficult to have a unanimous decision on this issue is the fact that people use different criteria to make their assessment. For instance Robinson’s followers say he was great because amongst other attributes, he had the distinction of winning the world middleweight championship an unprecedented five times. Now this is a hell of an achievement until somebody poses the question: why did Robinson lose his title in the first place?

Muhammad Ali, the self proclaimed “Greatest” also lost fights he shouldn’t have lost; notably when he lost his world heavyweight title to a seven fight novice by the name of Leon Spinks. Like when Robinson lost all those fights, Ali had the tendency of sometimes taking his opponents lightly and not training properly. For me, this is an indiscipline that is inexcusable for a professional athlete and as such, puts a question mark on any athlete considered the greatest of all time. A professional boxer should always take his trade seriously and be disciplined enough and go into any fight more than ready despite who the opponent is. This has always been the weakness of skilled boxers who’ll get into the trap of undermining their opponents and lack the motivation to work hard in the gym.

Another great boxer of modern era; Sugar Ray Leonard also made history for a wrong reason. Leonard became the first boxer who at the height of his career, as the reining, undefeated welterweight champion, went on to lose to a lightweight champion. Bear in mind that Roberto Duran, moved from lightweight, skipped the junior-welterweight division and took on the former Olympic champion, and defeated Leonard. Although Ray reversed that decision in the famous “No Mas” bout, he had no business losing to a lightweight. Leonard, like the problem of most gifted athletes I mentioned earlier, took Duran lightly. Why, even his famous trainer at the time Angelo Dundee said before the fight that “Leonard does not have to dance away from this guy. He is a lightweight and we’ll probably take him out in 4 rounds or sooner”. Now that is the indiscipline I alluded to and should not have a place in professional boxing.

This brings me to the debate I’ve been having lately with some friends of mine. They get gob smacked when I tell them that Floyd Mayweather junior has a point when he says he’s the greatest boxer ever and as a welterweight would definitely have defeated the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard.

My argument is simple: Mayweather is still undefeated and is yet to fall into the trap of many gifted boxers by taking fights lightly. Despite his natural skills, the man takes every fight seriously, trains properly, and executes his strategy with the discipline of a war general. Floyd has fought smaller and bigger opponents and has never been complacent in his preparations. In fact he’s so disciplined that even between fights, he is always in shape. Now that is professionalism par none.

So why would he have defeated Ray Leonard?

The man is such a defensive genius, that even his critics agree that he’s probably the best defensive boxer ever. Remember, he used to be called “Pretty Boy” because he looks the same after any fight as before he steps into the ring. Now the same cannot be said about Leonard. Ray could be hit as was the case when he played macho when he fought Duran. He was being pummeled and had his eye completely shut, before he rallied to stop Tommy Hearns in the 14th round in their unification fight for the world welterweight crown.

Discipline and a rigorous training regiment are Mayweather’s second nature. He doesn’t get carried away in the ring and lose focus and his unblemished record can testify to that. Not the same can be said for Leonard.

Ray Leonard carried on too long in boxing and ended his career on a sour note, losing fights to boxers who couldn’t have been good enough in his prime to carry his jockstrap. Well not true for Floyd so far.

Now back to his claim that he’s the greatest ever. I fully concur with his assertion because he has not been a victim of what has been the undoing of great fighters.

I hear people advancing the point that Floyd has never been tested and that to prove you are a great boxer you should be tested. Excuse me, but I thought boxing wasn’t called the sweet science for nothing. Boxing is the art of hitting and not getting hit. That Floyd has never been so-called tested is testimony to the fact that he knows what boxing is all about and he’s doing the right thing. Why should he be careless and allow himself to be hit so as to prove that he can be tested? If that would please the doubters, Moseley tested Mayweather when he rocked him in the second round and Floyd seemed to be on the verge of being knocked out. But he came right back with a vengeance in the third and slowly took Sugar Shane back to school and shook him several times. Floyd Mayweather junior has passed every test he’s faced and came out with flying colours.

Finally on the issue that derailed the much anticipated Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight – drug testing. I hear people saying Floyd cannot change the rules that have been decided by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. But then who ever said rules ever made by any authoritative body are fool proof? The Commission is made up of individuals who are themselves not infallible. The truth of the matter is that boxing rules, when it comes to testing for substance abuse, are flawed. They are not stringent enough and it is easy to get away with murder. All Mayweather is asking for as he says is “leveling the playing field”. Is that asking for too much? If Pacquiao is clean, let him submit to stringent drug testing like Mayweather would be subjected to. Superstition and other excuses should not get in the way of him being guaranteed $40million and proving once and for all who the better boxer is.