American’s opponent is unlikely to challenge his unbeaten record, and that is a pity for the sport and the fighter
Fans are underwhelmed by Floyd Mayweather Jr’s announcement that Andre Berto will be his 49th opponent.
The World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association welterweight belts are on the line against the Haitian-American power puncher (30-3, 23 KOs), but more than that, so is the preservation of Floyd’s unbeaten 19-year run which allows the 38-year-old and his team to crow that he is ‘The Best Ever’.
The MGM Grand Garden Arena will still play home to a huge ‘event’ with Mayweather, if triumphant, going on to match the record of the late heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano, who retired in April 1956 with a record of 49-0. But Mayweather’s climb to greatness, and staggering riches, has been built around the ‘unbeaten’ tag. And it is more important to him now than ever before.
Stars will adorn The Strip, celebrities, rappers, Hollywood A-listers and some of the world’s leading athletes will undeniably descend on Las Vegas to see ‘The Mayweather Show’, as the boxer claims it will be his career swan song. That, too, is unlikely, with talk in the boxing world behind the scenes of the American returning next year to christen the new arena being built two blocks away from the MGM Grand.
But what has grated with many is that Mayweather (48-0, 26 KOs), may have chosen any number of more enticing match-ups, which would have more befitted the occasion: Keith Thurman, Amir Khan, Timothy Bradley, Kell Brook, Shawn Porter or even Gennady Glolovkin, the No 1 middleweight in the world who might have been persuaded to come down to light-middleweight. Thurman, in my view, would have been a great option: unbeaten, and the holder of the WBA welterweight belt.
The world and his dog expects Mayweather to defeat Berto, and that takes something away from the fight itself.
In spite of Berto being a two-time welterweight world champion, he has lost three of his last six contests, since 2011. In promotional terms, frankly, it is just bizarre.
Look back in time, at the man Mayweather will draw comparison with in terms of the unbeaten record.
Floyd Mayweather has amassed huge wealth – partly through his choice of opponents
Marciano’s 49th fight was against Archie Moore. On September 21, 1955, Moore went up in weight to face Marciano for his heavyweight title. Moore briefly dropped Marciano in the second round (the second and last time Marciano had ever been knocked down), but Marciano recovered and knocked Moore down five times, stopping him in the ninth round to retain the belt. Few expect Berto to put up that kind of fight against Mayweather.
Where Berto fits the bill, is in a style match-up. Berto is an aggressive, come-forward fighter, who will attempt to put pressure on Mayweather. The latter, meanwhile, will use his expert counter-punching style.
Historians will look back at this bout with mild dismay, but if you look at Mayweather’s career since 2007, when he was in a very close split-decision contest with Oscar De La Hoya, and the light-middleweight fight against Miguel Cotto, he has always been skilfully matched.
‘Money’ is an undoubtedly brilliant and skilful boxer, but both he and his team are masters at stacking the odds in his favour.
De La Hoya had inherent risks for Mayweather, and so too Cotto, but look at the others: Ricky Hatton was unbeaten, but essentially a light-welterweight; Shane Mosley, another great fighter, was past his best; Juan Manuel Marquez was much smaller, and lighter; Victor Ortiz was not on the same level, and lacked experience; Robert Guerrerro did not have the skillset to challenge Floyd; Saul Alvarez, while he had a great following, was young in his career; Marcos Maidana, in his two fights, was the perfect foil for Mayweather’s style. And Manny Pacquiao – well – we all know that it would have been more competitive three years earlier.
Manny Pacquiao proved no match for Floyd Mayweather
We will still tune in – for the occasion, which will be spectacular, and because in boxing, you have to expect the unexpected.
But there were much better fights on which Mayweather could have bowed out – both for Floyd, and for us.