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Rocky Marciano record: Shouldn't Mayweather vs McGregor be an exhibition?

Joseph Herron Updated
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On Saturday, August 26, Floyd Mayweather Jr. will attempt to surpass boxing's hallowed "Heavyweight" record of 49 wins with 0 losses, established by former Heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano back in 1955 with a KO victory over the great Archie Moore, as he takes on a customary MMA fighter who will be making his professional boxing debut.

Although the great majority of the Brockton Blockbuster's competition wasn't on the same level as the legendary "Old Mongoose" of Benoit, Mississippi, many die-hard boxing enthusiasts, including the son of the late Heavyweight champ, believe Floyd's seemingly imminent 50th win shouldn't be included on his professional boxing resume.

Aside from the obvious disparity in levels when comparing this weekend's two competing fighters, Rocky Marciano Jr. explained why the record is predominantly a Heavyweight milestone and shouldn't be considered when discussing Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s legacy in boxing.

(Rocky Marciano: Record 49-0, 43 KOs)

"Heavyweights, most of them, hold the highest knock-out percentages for a reason," Rocky Jr. recently told USA Today. "They’re bigger, they’re stronger and one punch can take a heavyweight out. So it’s a lot more difficult to stay undefeated than it is for someone in the lower weight class, where it can be more of a type of match where you’re just outpointing your opponent.”

While many avid fight fans could and will most certainly debate this point, admitted Mayweather sympathizer and personal friend, Stephen A. Smith, surprisingly sides with Rocky Jr. and doesn't believe Floyd should be accredited for his perceived mismatch with Conor McGregor.

"I don't believe this fight should count as an actual fight, win or lose, on Floyd Mayweather's resume," stated Smith on a recent episode of ESPN's "First Take". "And I don't believe Marciano Jr. is disrespecting Floyd in any way. He's in fact recognizing Mayweather's greatness as a champion with an unblemished record that has owned the sport of boxing for the last decade."

"What he's saying is that Conor McGregor is not a professional boxer, and both fighters seem to be doing this strictly for the money. How does someone who has never boxed professionally even get the opportunity to step in the ring with one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport?"

"He didn't earn this opportunity. No disrespect to Conor McGregor or Floyd Mayweather, but there was a process that was seemingly circumvented here."

Is Stephen A. correct here?

The traditional protocol to which Smith is referencing doesn't really apply to the recently retired Money Mayweather.

Floyd's most recent bout took place in September of 2015, almost two full years ago, and he was the defending WBC/WBA 147 pound champion. Even though the now 40 year old businessman never officially announced his retirement following his dominant 49th victory over former WBC and IBF Welterweight titlist Andre Berto, Money May stayed inactive long enough to lose his "coveted" titles, as well as his top ranking within the Welterweight and Junior Middleweight divisions.

If Floyd were indeed defending any sanctioning body's title as their active champion, Smith would indeed have a sound argument. But Floyd is merely stepping out of retirement and competing in the ring against the most popular athlete of the UFC to ostensibly meet a bizarre demand created by the mainstream and casual sports community.

So Smith's claim that Conor McGregor did nothing to merit this Saturday night's "mismatch" at the T-Mobile Arena is not only wrong, but an ignorant statement. The paying customers wanted to see this fight materialize, for some strange reason, so it will indeed be happening as scheduled in Las Vegas.

A genuine demand is the only reason that really matters when pondering the question as to why anything takes place within any entertainment platform.

(Rocky Marciano fight by fight record via BoxRec)

But the always outspoken commentator is right about one thing...neither Floyd nor Conor McGregor deserve any scrutiny for making this blatant mismatch a reality. The two fighters admit that money was indeed the primary motivation here.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission is the party that should be scrutinized for sanctioning this bout as an official boxing match, which will indeed be applied to both fighters' professional resumes respectively.

How could the NSAC possibly begin to justify a match-up that pairs one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport against a virtual boxing novice?

A boxing commission exists to protect the safety and health of all fighters who obtain a license within the applicable state.

What will NSAC director Bob Bennett say after the fight if McGregor obtains a serious and life threatening injury as a result of the massive disparity in skill and experience between the UFC combatant and Money May?

In the immortal words of the late, great Emanuel Steward: "You can play football and you can play basketball, but you can't play boxing."

Let's pray that no one gets seriously injured in the ring on Saturday night...the Rock's record is a mere formality.

Rocky Marciano Record: Stats and Facts

  • Record: 49-0; 43 Knockouts
  • KO Percentage: 88
  • Marciano only defended the title six times, but most of those bouts are classics
  • Rocky won his first sixteen professional fights by knockout
  • Retired at a youthful 32
  • Although not among the best heavyweights in raw skill, technique, speed or power, he was certainly among the toughest, best-conditioned of heavyweight champions ever
  • At 5'10" 190 lbs, Marciano was small for a heavyweight, even by 1950s standards. Today he'd be a cruiserweight, In fact, Rocky was told he was "too small to be a heavyweight"
  • Marciano had the shortest reach of all World Heavyweight Champions — only 68 inches.
  • Defeated fight legends Joe Louis, Ezzard Charles, Jersey Joe Walcott and Archie Moore
  • Marciano was The Ring Fighter of the Year for 1952, 1954, and 1955.
  • Although fighters, such as Julio Cesar Chavez, have amassed more wins without a loss during their career, no world champion has retired undefeated with as many fights as Rocky Marciano. (Joe Calzaghe retired at 46-0) 

Rocky Marciano highlights 

(Click here if you don't see the video below)


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