by Paul Magno
For the critics of Floyd Mayweather Jr., there seems to be no middle-ground; No possibility whatsoever that what they say and what they’ve heard is not the absolute gospel.
Mayweather ducked all the best fighters at Welterweight…and that’s the end of the conversation for them.
They point to names like Cotto, Mosley and Margarito and then point to Mayweather’s ring record. “He fought none of them! None of the best Welterweights of today!”
But when we look deeper and dig a little further we begin to see the holes in their arguments.
The timelines don’t match up and for Mayweather to have truly fought the list of fighters he allegedly ducked, it would’ve required him to do some time-bending that would put to shame anything ever written by H.G. Wells.
Floyd Mayweather is an outstanding fighter, but he is most definitely no match for the space-time continuum.
So, timeline and ring records in hand, I’m going to run through the list of fighters that Mayweather is accused of ducking and demonstrate how things aren’t always as they appear to be and that perception sometimes overrides reality.
I intend to show that the fighters in question were, for the most part, fringe players when Mayweather was active and, therefore, not even worthy of a fight, much less fearsome enough to be ducked.
I’ll cover the portion of his career from April of 2006, as Mayweather prepared to fight Zab Judah in his first major bout at Welterweight until his official retirement after the Ricky Hatton bout in December of 2007.
The tale of Mayweather ducking Margarito has been passed down from message board to message board and from blog to blog, but it has very little validity when examined.
Margarito would go on to take another ten month hiatus before fighting an, at the time, unknown Joshua Clottey. Margarito was being outclassed early on until Clottey suffered injuries to his hands and had to spend the last two-thirds of the bout just surviving. It was hardly a star-making performance by “The Tijuana Tornado.”
Margarito would follow the Clottey win with a loss to Paul Williams followed by a comeback blow-out against journeyman Golden Johnson.
Margarito’s popularity and credibility as a top challenger wouldn’t spike until his win over Miguel Cotto- about 8 months after Mayweather’s retirement.
While Mayweather was chasing the lineal 147 lb. championship and beating Ring Magazine’s #1 and #2 ranked Welterweights at the time, Margarito was well in the background as an inactive fringe champion who was only known among a relative few hardcore fans and had yet to set himself apart.
The ducking of “Sugar Shane” accusation is a relative new one, but let’s examine the time line of this one as well.
When Mayweather was staking his claim in the division, Mosley was one division to the North at 154 going toe-to-toe with Fernando Vargas in a pair of bouts.
Mosley then came down to 147 where he had a very impressive performance against Luis Collazo.
However, a month before Mayweather’s retirement, Mosley would lose a close unanimous decision to Miguel Cotto.
In reality, Mayweather and Mosley only shared the division for about ten months- a period of time that saw Mosley win one and lose one.
This hardly established a burning case for a Mayweather-Mosley showdown.
Frankly put, Williams and Mayweather only shared a prominent role in the Welterweight division for about five months, between his win over Margarito and his stunning upset loss to Carlos Quintana.
Mayweather could’ve rushed in and forced a fight with the tall, awkward southpaw, but nobody was rushing to fight Williams and the upset loss effectively cut him from the picture for the time being.
Cotto wasn’t even in the same division as Mayweather until a month after Mayweather became the lineal world champ by outclassing Baldomir. That adds up to about a year where both fighters were even in the same division.
Cotto earned his spot at the top of 147 by beating Judah and Mosley in exciting, well-attended, but ultimately disappointing PPV shows.
Mayweather, in almost direct point/counterpoint was busy taking part in the biggest PPV of all-time (vs. Oscar de la Hoya) and a near-million seller (vs. Hatton).
By the time Cotto had established himself as a player at Welterweight, Mayweather already had plans to get out while still young.
Could Mayweather have turned down the Oscar and Hatton fights to have it out with Cotto? Of course…but what fighters in history would turn down 20 million dollar checks and mega-events in favor of a third of the money and one-eighth the publicity?
When looking back on Mayweather’s recent career, we have to be careful to put things into their proper perspective and clearly analyze what went down- not with the negative benefit of hindsight, but with the ability to fairly see things as they were.
When Mayweather first moved up to Welterweight, he called out a Zab Judah who had just ripped Cory Spinks to shreds and was ranked on many pound-for-pound lists. Judah was, far and away, the consensus #1 Welterweight in the world.
Judah ended up being upset by Carlos Baldomir and the the Argentinian became lineal champ.
Mayweather beat Judah first and then went after Baldomir to complete his sweep of Ring Magazine’s top two rated Welters- Regardless of what would later on happen to the careers of the two Mayweather victims, they were considered the top 2 at the time.
Then, the real public relations problems began for Mayweather.
The newly-crowned lineal champ cashed in on his growing fame by opting for a huge money fight against De la Hoya; A fight that everyone from 140 to 154 would gladly have taken instead of a mandatory defense for a fraction of the money.
The Hatton fight followed. Another blockbuster payday for a fighter just starting to make the mega-bucks of some of the other stars of the sport.
If Mayweather’s guilty of anything it’s trying to cash in on a lifetime of hard work in order to secure his financial future after retirement.
This is a crime that, in my opinion, is 100% forgivable in a sport that is famous for not taking care of its own after they cease to be vital.
Mayweather could’ve insisted on fighting relative unknowns for fractions of what he could’ve made elsewhere, but what fighter given the same circumstances would do that? Right…none.
So, while the name Floyd Mayweather may have a visceral effect in your belly and cause you to explode in a rage of self-righteous condemnation, I ask you to think.
Are the timelines matched-up properly?
Is it fair to ask a fighter to give up his biggest paydays in favor of bouts with your personal favorites?
Is it intellectually honest to expect a 2006 Floyd Mayweather to beat 2009’s best Welterweights?
Step aside from the hyperbole and mob mentality when it comes to Floyd and put some serious analysis behind the rhetoric.
We are unfairly putting Mayweather into the no-win situation of having to defend himself against allegations of ducking the best; Not the best fighters of his time, because he did beat them, but the fighters that would eventually go on to be the best welterweights nearly three years later.
Mayweather can do a lot of things, but time travel is not one of them.