Floyd Mayweather Jr. knew he was gifted from an early age. Following a rousing second-round stoppage of a then 18-3 Louie Leija in 1997, Mayweather was already in preparation to become an all-time great.
“It’s so easy. This sport is not hard. You just got to stay focused, and you got to do what you got to do,” Mayweather said prior to his 11th professional fight against Felipe Garcia.
“You can put me in there with Genaro Hernandez, the guy that just fought the IBF champ…Arturo Gatti. I’ll beat Arturo Gatti, and I’ll also beat Genaro Hernandez, for sure. I’ll be a world champion in 1998.”
What did Mayweather do? In October 1998, he earned a chance to fight for his first World championship against Genaro Hernandez. In what was the final fight of Hernandez’s career, Mayweather forced him to retire in one of the best performances of his career, connecting on 54 percent of his punches.
Larry Merchant said it so articulately that night on HBO.
“Every old fighter sometimes along the way is going to run into a young, strong, quick, and vicious young guy who is trying to take everything away with him. This is what’s happening here.”
Former heavyweight champion George Foreman went even further than Merchant.
“In boxing, you’re not going to run into many Mayweather young type fighters. Believe me, this guy is something special.”
I think Mayweather has gone further than what many people expected. He’s fought some tremendous fighters, and many of those fights weren’t close.
From my perspective, Mayweather has dominated around 88 percent of the fighters he has gone head-to-head with in the ring, including victories over Diego Corrales, Zab Judah, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Robert Guerrero, and Manny Pacquiao.
Although many thought he lost to Jose Luis Castillo in April 2002, including myself, he promised the fans that the next fight would be easy, and it was.
Castillo, being the stand-up guy he is, even admitted so.
“I never figured him out. I think he fought a more intelligent fight this time. I never felt I did anything this time.”
In a perfect world, Mayweather would be praised for what he’s accomplished as a boxer, but he falls in the famous curse of being too good to be loved by everyone. – I’m not talking about his domestic violence history – but his popularity as a fighter.
In order to remain the best, it means that you have to dedicate yourself to your craft. How many professional athletes can retire multiple times and still return to the sport in which they dominated in and still reign superior – Floyd Mayweather did that.
Michael Schumacher is recognized as one of the best, if not the greatest Formula One driver of all-time. After retiring in 2006, he returned in 2010 to full competition – and he couldn’t even a race – although he did score one podium finish at the European Grand Prix in Spain in 2012.
As Vince Lombardi once said, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Only perfect practices makes perfect.”
All Mayweather has been training to do is whole life is to be perfect and by golly, I think he’s done an impressive job.
Every successful person has a pack of haters behind them. However, there are also people who admire and respect the skill it took to get to the highest echelon.
The more the people want to see Mayweather to lose, the more money he gets in most cases. His nickname is ‘Money’ for a reason.
People will say he ducked and dodged the best over the course of his career. While that may be true, a majority of those guys who he supposedly ducked, eventually fought him, and they all went home as losers.
Respect greatness while it is here guys. It’s possible you may never see something like it again in your lifetime, so embrace it.