Many readers have questioned my decision to include Floyd Mayweather inside my list of top-10 boxers of all time.
Others have queried my omissions of Oscar De La Hoya and Mike Tyson.
Thanks for all your comments. I’d like to explain myself, and while I don’t expect you to agree with me, hopefully you can understand my thinking.
On the matter of Mayweather, I agree that he deserves criticism for avoiding certain opponents – but only since he moved up to junior-welterweight, welterweight and junior-middleweight. Let’s be honest, however, he’s not the only boxer to have hand-picked opponents.
Manny Pacquiao too has selected opponents – a shot De La Hoya and a damaged Ricky Hatton – but who holds that against him?
Equally, Pacquiao challenged Miguel Cotto at catchweight (two pounds below the welterweight limit) and now he’s the world welterweight champion! That’s one of the aberrations of modern-day boxing, but again, I won’t hold that against Pacquiao.
He is an incredible fighter and deserves to be regarded the pound-for-pound champion of the world right now.
By the same token, don’t judge Mayweather by the men he’s ducked – rather look at the guys he’s beaten: Angel Manfredy, Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo were all decent fighters and in their prime!
Moving up, Mayweather avoided name fighters like Kostya Tszyu, Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley. He still beat Arturo Gatti (who was past it), Sharmba Mitchell (also past it), Zab Judah and Carlos Baldomir, the reigning champion at the time.
He went on to beat an ageing De La Hoya and then smashed an undefeated Hatton, who was damaged goods after that. In Hatton’s first comeback fight after that, he was wobbled a couple of times by over-the-hill Juan Lazcano.
It’s one thing to dislike Mayweather for his loud mouth and defensive ring tactics, but that doesn’t mean he lacks ability.
Against Judah he struggled early on before working out his opponent and dominating him. Against De La Hoya, he was behind on points after the first six rounds, but came back after that, although I put that down to Oscar’s age (I do believe that De La Hoya in his prime would have beaten Mayweather – more because of his size than his abilities).
Even though he has ducked opponents, Mayweather has proven himself to be a great boxer. Defensively, there is nobody who measures up to him.
Does that mean he’ll beat Pacquiao? In my mind, no. Pacquiao’s win over Cotto has convinced me that Pacman will beat Mayweather, although I still think it’ll be close.
As for De La Hoya, who was a fine boxer in his day, I don’t believe he reached the heights that would earn him a place in boxing’s top 10. He simply never won the big one!
He beat an old Julio Cesar Chavez. Against Pernell Whitaker he was taken to school, but the judges’ scores resembled a popularity contest rather than a reflection of a much tighter fight.
De La Hoya was lucky to get the decision against Ike Quartey, and was unlucky to lose to Felix Trinidad (in my book). He had good wins over Gatti and Fernando Vargas, but was beaten by Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins.
De La Hoya was good – I don’t dispute that – but he does not sit in the top echelons of all-time greats.
In the case of Tyson, he was a dynamo that burnt out as quickly as it started. He scored some impressive wins early on – Trevor Berbick, James Smith and Michael Spinks – as he unified the alphabet titles at a time the division was considered a joke.
But after losing to Buster Douglas, he achieved little. Yes, he reclaimed a version of the title from Frank Bruno and knocked out Bruce Seldon with a phantom punch, but Evander Holyfield showed him up badly.
For me, the one thing that really counts against Tyson is the fact that he never got off the canvass to win a fight. Muhammad Ali did, so too George Foreman.
I’m sure there are a lot of fighters who never had to get up to win a fight, but in Tyson’s case, he went down often enough to suggest that he couldn’t fight his way out of trouble.
Tyson doesn’t even make my top-10 list of best heavyweights (in no particular order – Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Gene Tunney, Jack Dempsey, George Foreman, Jack Johnson, Rocky Marciano, Evander Holyfield, Larry Holmes, Joe Frazier, Max Schmeling and Floyd Patterson all rank above Tyson).
When drawing up all-time lists, one is always going to be biased, especially towards the boxers you’ve seen in your lifetime. As a result, some forgotten but brilliant fighters from the early 20th century might be omitted.
Perhaps Harry Greb should be there. Or what about Jim Driscoll, once described as the best defensive fighter of all time? Sadly for them, too much time has elapsed.
Other people will show bias towards attacking fighters, or defensive boxers, or southpaws, or simply guys who had Kid in their nicknames. This is a flawed science and I’m the first to admit it.
All-time lists are subjective, and who says mine’s right anyway?
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