Floyd Mayweather TBE: ‘The Best Ever?’Written by Brian Opal
The Super Bowl of boxing is finally here! The “fight of the century” between pound-for-pound king of the ring Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. and global boxing-icon Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao is tomorrow night.
Tickets sold out within 60 seconds and at extremely expensive, unprecedented prices. But one immensely important question hangs over the heads of all fight fans who’ll tune-in to witness the biggest prizefight in history: Has Mayweather accomplished enough to earn his self-proclaimed title of “The Best Ever” (TBE)?
In order to address or attempt to answer this question, it’s imperative to look at both sides of this hotly contested debate.
“Money’s” loyal fans, who whole-heatedly support and believe their idol is the “greatest of all time,” have presented a sound, solid argument as to why their man should be regarded as the best that’s ever entered the squared circle. But at the same time, Mayweather’s critics and detractors have presented some pretty strong counterarguments for why he shouldn’t be.
Over five years ago, these two factions of highly-passionate fans took to the net and social media to debate, argue and insult each other over this topic. And it never has stopped — even when negotiations where the furthest thing from the table.
In fact, each fan base has developed nice, endearing nicknames for the other that are just as nasty as the partisan attacks we hear before presidential elections. (They’re hilarious, but may not be politically correct.)
It might sound puzzling or comedic to mainstream and casual observers, but in the minds of hardcore boxing fans who’ve been at each other’s proverbial throats for years…this issue is no laughing matter.
Detractors of the “TBE”claim
One of the first things most detractors of the “TBE” moniker will point out is it took Mayweather over five years to agree to fight Pacquiao. Although a fiercely debated subject, it’s recently been revealed that Team Mayweather was primarily responsible for delaying the mega-fight for all this time.
The recent HBO documentary “Mayweather-Pacquiao: At Last” tells the story from the very beginning and explains the truth behind why the two first rounds of negotiations failed.
Critics of the “TBE” claim will state they now have evidence that Mayweather “ducked” Pacquiao for close to six years. And that only strengthens their belief that he avoided other fighters throughout his career as well.
They’ll say something like, “how can Floyd be ‘TBE’ when he ducked prime Pacquiao, Margarito and Martinez?”
They might also state that Mayweather has been avoiding Lara, Andrade or Golovkin at 154lbs along with a couple of Welterweights like Thurman, Khan or Brook.
Then, skeptics of Mayweather’s claim to “TBE” are more than likely to mention his highly controversial wins over Jose Luis Castillo and Marcos Maidana. That’s because millions of boxing fans sincerely believe that he lost to both Castillo and Maidana, but was gifted wins in his hometown by all American judges. And there are many millions more who truly believe Floyd lost one of those two bouts, so should be 46-1 instead of 47-0.
It’s not difficult for detractors of the “TBE” label to pick apart whatever they don’t like about “Money’s” style. Criticism has generally targeted his lack of punching power, recent knockouts, offensive aggression; rarely throwing flurries of combinations, excessive clinching, holding or tying-up; and/or spending too much time on his bicycle, often refusing to engage opponents and what some describe as “running.”
Those who disagree with the champ’s claim to “TBE” might also mention that Mayweather “retired” from boxing during the peak of his career for nearly two years. They’ll use that as ammunition to further support their argument that he went to great lengths to avoid dangerous fights and “cherry pick” easy wins.
Supporters of the “TBE” claim
Titles, records, accolades and stats speak for themselves. The first point those promoting the “TBE” label will make is that Mayweather is still undefeated. Only a small, elite group of fighters throughout history retired with that type of perfect record. In addition, Floyd has won 10 world titles, is a five-division world champion, and has held the highly-coveted lineal titles in four different weight classes.
Then they’ll be quick to rap off a list of former champions and titlists that “Money” defeated throughout his career and it’ll include: Maidana, Alvarez, Guerrero, Cotto, Ortiz, Mosley, Marquez, Hatton, De La Hoya, Baldomir, Judah, Mitchell, Gatti, Corley, Castillo, Chavez, Hernandez, Corrales, Vargas and Hernandez.
That’s a total of 20, so it’s an extremely impressive accomplishment by any standard.
Fans of Mayweather’s claim to “TBE” will likely mention his awe-inspiring mastery of the Philly Shell/shoulder roll defense and his amazing reflexes, speed, accuracy, agility, footwork and ring IQ.
They’ll make comments like, “that’s the type of God-given natural talent that only comes along once in a lifetime.” Floyd was The Ring Magazine “Fighter of the Year” in 1998 and 2007 and the runner-up for “Fighter of the Decade” (2000-2010). So, even critics of the “TBE” claim find it difficult to refute that he’s the best defensive fighter of his era—possibly the best all-around boxer of his generation.
And at some point in the debate, believers in the “TBE” moniker will usually point out that “Money” is the highest paid prizefighter in history and the highest paid athlete in America. Many argue that should be considered a major accomplishment in itself and a significant reason why he should be called “TBE.” Some of these fans will also contend that Floyd’s brash, arrogant personality and propensity to raise public controversy have brought tons of attention and entertainment value to boxing.
Outcome, legacy and historical significance
Hope all the hype lives up to the billing because if this mega-fight fails to deliver high entertainment value for the dollar, it could turn sports fans away from “the sweet science.” If victorious over Pacquiao, Team Mayweather could chant, “TBE, TBE, TBE” for eternity, but if the majority of fans don’t feel the label is fitting…it simply will not stick or take hold over the course of time.
Is Floyd already “TBE?” Or does the high and mighty title of “TBE” ride on whether or not he defeats Pac-Man?
Some believe Mayweather must beat Pacquiao then successfully defend his lineal Jr. Middleweight (154lbs) title against the best in order to earn the glorious distinction of “TBE.”
What do you think?