I do not pretend to be a boxing expert and even though I am not Nathanael Attoh I have love for boxing. It is in this love vein that I produce this piece as an observer of the sport which tags itself ‘the noble art of self defence.’
With his unanimous win over Pacquiao on Sunday dawn 2nd May 2015 Floyd Mayweather Junior also known as ‘Money’ and sometimes referred to as ‘The Best Ever(TBE) extend his wins to 48, 26 by Knock Out with no losses.
With the win also the ‘Pretty Boy’ made a cool 240 million dollars whiles opponent Manny Pacquiao earned 60 million. In the process Mayweather unified the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF titles.
As a negroid am most happy when a member of my race achieves or accomplishes a feat and so I was delighted with Floyd’s win but what has necessitated my sharing with you thoughts I hold are the claims by Floyd that he is the greatest boxer in history and the Mayweather Vs. Pacquiao match equally the greatest match.
For starters having a 48 to zero winning streak is impressive and being an undefeated champ affords bragging rights but as with everything it is when comparisons are made that the whole picture emerges and needless banter avoided.
The Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight is the richest in boxing history because of the sums involved. A 300 hundred million purse is no joke especially when a country such as Ghana could go for a loan facility from the International Monetary Fund for a 918 million dollar credit facility with all its conditionalities.
The purse rose in value because of interest no doubt not withstanding the fact that the world badly wanted this fight 5 years ago when Pacquiao was the number pound for pound fighter and was unbeaten. Sadly the demand of Mayweather for urine and blood samples testing on the Pacman even on match day despite protestation from Pacman’s camp that drawing blood so near to a fight would weaken him but was willing to offer his juice up to 14 days of match day and immediately after the fight was not enough to sway Floyd to fight.
Even if the fight had taken place 5 years ago it still wouldn’t have become the greatest fight in 100 years but at least it would have made for delightful viewing and have its place in history.
Winning 11 world championships, being a lineal champion in different weigh divisions, being named 2 time Ring Magazine ‘Fighter of the Year’, given the Boxing Writers Association of America ‘Fighter of the Year’ recognition in 2007 and listed as the highest paid athlete in the world in 2014 means one is great at what one does and is respected accordingly.
Bagging an amateur record of 84 wins to 6 losses in addition to wining the Golden Gloves championship in in 1993 and 1996 showed early brilliance.
To have great legs, great speed, ring generalship and punishing power in the ring means the boxing gods were generous enough but there ought to be more to become the greatest.
Mayweather has fought opponents across the lightweight, super featherweight, welterweight including Roberto Duran, Genaro Hernandez, Jesus Chavez, Carlos Rios, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz, Miguel Cotto, Zab Judah and Oscar De La Hoya.
Leading up to the fight with Ricky Hatton on 8th December 2007, Floyd Mayweather noted: “I respect what Robinson and Ali did for the sport but I am the greatest and this is my time.”
I reckon for a bout to rank as the greatest or be up there both boxers must have brought a compelling record, one or both considered the very best but ultimately the fight on the night must be fierce and give one’s money worth.
Pacquiao’s record of 57 wins, 38 by knock outs, 6 by losses and 2 by draws makes for nice viewing any day but when ‘greatest’ claims are made more scrutiny is applied.
Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Dapidran Pacquiao also a congressman in the Philippines remains the only 8th division world champion, first to win lineal championship in 4 different weight classes, named Fighter for the Decade in the 2000’s as well as winner of 10 world titles is no mean feat. His opponents over the years in the lightweight, featherweight and welterweight divisions include Juan Manuel Marquez, Antonio Barrera, David Diaz, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, Timothy Bradley and Ghana’s own Joshua Clottey which is well and good.
Then there is Muhammad Ali also known as ‘the Greatest’ and ‘the People’s Champion’. Ali is fondly remembered for his skills in the ring but also what he did outside the ring- championing racial justice, religious freedom and showing the way by supporting the have-nots.
It is little wonder then that he was named ‘Sportsman of the Year’ by Sports Illustrated magazine and ‘Sports Personality of the Century’ by BBC respectively. Ali’s love for boxing begun at 12 and by 22 years won the world heavyweight championship belt in 1964 from the dreaded Sony Liston demonstrating what good stuff there was to come.
In a move which set him apart Ali grew in stature not as another sportsman but as a conscience pricker when he objected to being drafted into the army as a soldier to fight in Vietnam indicating that the Vietnam folks had caused his race no harm rather the suffering his folks endured came from white Americans.
His stance led to a stripping of his belt for 4 years, a fine of $10,000, withdrawal of his passport and possible imprisonment of 5 years but he won his appeal and gained his license to fight once more. Ali is the only 3 time lineal world heavyweight champion in 1964, 1974 and 1978 and for a period ruled as the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world.
If boxers today appear to be tough talking before a fight, none did it with such finesse as Ali. He loved the spotlight where his thoughts were as provocative as stimulating.
On the Olympic front Ali secured the light heavyweight gold medal at Rome in the 1960 Olympics recoding 100 wins as against 5 loses during his Olympic days.
Forever the poet, Ali outdoored himself to the world in the lead up to the Liston fight with the tag ‘I will float like a butterfly and sting like a bee as Sony’s hands can’t hit what they can’t see.’
Muhammad Ali boasts of 61 total fights, 56 wins, 37 by KO and 5 losses taking on some of the meanest and toughest fighters including Sony Liston, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Floyd Patterson, Cleveland Williams, Quarry and Ken Norton.
Even before other entities acknowledged that Ali was the greatest he after the Liston fight when he caused an upset noted: “I shook up the world, I talk to God every day. I must be the greatest.”
There are fighting greats including Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Dempsey, Marciano, Joe Louis, George Foreman and Joe Frazier but none as complete as Muhammad Ali.
Sugar Ray Robinson is considered the best pound for pound fighter in history yet Ali beat him and when the speed of the blows were computed Ali’s punches were 25% faster than Sugar Ray’s.
When it came to the talk, nobody could outtalk him. He was the king of ‘thrash talk’, causing his opponents to be so mad they would want to kill him but he managed almost always to tame them no matter how wild they were in the ring.
The ‘Greatest’ was named ‘Fighter of the Year’ by Ring Magazine more than any other fighter summing up his dominance over ferocious fighters who themselves were solid and stone cold.
In summing up this piece I shall end with two fights of Ali which till today is talked of with reverence. The year is 30 October 1974 in Kinshasa Zaire. Ali proves in this fight with champion George Foreman that he can be as observant, tricky and clever in as much way as sunny.
Ali having announced that he will be dancing around Foreman chose to do little dancing but rather lean against the ropes and allow the Foreman to pound his mid-section with heavy blows which often left melon like holes in his punching bag during practice session. Ali absorbed the blows whiles dishing quick combinations of his own punches till Foreman begun to tire and then Ali relied on his super-hand speed, superb reflexes and constant movement whiles felling George Foreman in the 8th round to a thunderous applause from the Congolese folks who took to Ali once he stepped foot on the soil with the Ali Bomaye chant.
If the Muhammad Ali vs. George Foreman fight was delectable, the ‘Thriller in Manila’ after the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ was plain explosive. Regarded by both fans and pundits as the greatest boxing fight in history the Ali vs Frazier III fight on 1 October 1975 of which Ali won in the 14th round led him to say: “the fight was the closest thing to dying that I know, he is the greatest fighter of all times next to me.”
Both men pounded the face and body of each other till in the 13th and 14th rounds Ali gave it his all till Frazier’s corner failed to answer the bell in the 15th round as Frazier’s eyes were shut from swelling in addition to cuts around the eyes. Ali himself might not have managed to stand longer had Frazier answered the bell.
Those were the days of boxing where men stood face to face to fight giving patrons their monies worth. In the 80’s through the 90’s they were named the ‘Fabulous Four’. Fighting for the welterweight and middleweight belts Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran punched like few can. Who could forget the match between Hearns and Hagler with the middleweight belt at stake. few boxers can measure up to the first round boxing both men offered nearly dropping each other with fierce blows till Marvelous Marvin Hagler knocked out the lean lanky yet deadly Hearns.
And how about Sugar Leonard returning from retirement to beat Hagler to take the belt. So my dear Mayweather you have something going for you but please you are not the greatest, the greatest is Ali because of the upsets he caused, the mean opponents he faced, fights he won outside of his comfort zone like in Zaire and Manila, his tough talk, his poetry, his KO’s, his ability and willingness to take blows, fighting the 15 round format, bringing a self-belief to Africans in America and other negroids all over the world, his support of people in need, his challenge to the US government a thing many fear to do even today and the simple fact that he revolutionized boxing itself.
My dear Floyd, Ali in many hearts and minds is the undisputed heavyweight champ of all time, heavyweight and now that means something. ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson at his peak was noted for dropping opponents with KO’s within seconds of the 1st round, Ali walked the talk, Ray Robison regarded pound for pound king, Azumah for defending his title for 10 years, Ray Leonard for coming out of retirement winning belts and retiring, Hearns for his vicious lean arms and devastating combinations, Frazier for his heart and unique skill, Marciano for his toughness and Dempsey well there was only one Dempsey and Mayweather for his unbeaten run of 48 wins.
Africans are under attack in America and else from Ferguson to Baltimore but despite the killings a certain Mayweather’s voice can’t be heard and it is here that Ali sets the true bar but brother Floyd sure beats Ali to one thing he is the richest and with the added money will flow more cars, more women, more mansions and then perhaps a bail out of a certain Surge Knight who enabled the expiration of brother Tupac and the Notorious one. Such is life after all, an irony but never be fooled Muhammad Ali is the greatest and if any one asked you tell them Michael Eli Dokosi did.