Floyd Mayweather Jr. says he’s the Greatest of All Time, not Muhammad Ali. But at least one notable figure wouldn’t add Mayweather to his boxing picks if he fought Sugar Ray Leonard in his prime.
It’s amazing what lengths people will go to in their quest for perfection. Floyd carries a perfect 47-0 record into his May 2 superfight (9:00 p.m. ET) , with the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather betting odds holding steady at –200 as we go to press. And Mayweather is willing to put his body through extreme conditions to stay in top shape. Mayweather recently spent time in a cryotherapy chamber, which uses liquid nitrogen to cool the chamber to as low as minus-240 Fahrenheit. It’s like an ice bath on the planet Hoth.
Cold, yes, but not as cold as Mayweather’s comments to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith earlier this week. Mayweather claimed that he was the best boxer of all-time, bar none. “No one can ever brainwash me to make me believe that Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali was better than me,” Mayweather said. He even criticized Ali’s rope-a-dope strategy, and the fact that The Greatest only fought in one weight class. At least Mayweather isn’t lacking in confidence.
Not everyone agrees with Mayweather’s self-assessment. Bob Costas told reporters at last month’s Premier Boxing Champions debut on NBC that another Sugar, Sugar Ray Leonard, would have beaten Mayweather had they fought in Leonard’s prime. “I think Sugar would find a way to win,” Costas shrugged. “He adjusted after the first (Roberto) Duran fight, he found a way. He found a way against Marvin Hagler when no one gave him a chance. He was being knocked from pillar to post by (Thomas) “Hitman” Hearns, and he found a way, and came back and knocked him out.”
There are plenty of other people who think they could take Mayweather. Last month, UFC Featherweight contender Conor McGregor, who was also a National Boxing Champion in his native Ireland, told Esquire magazine that he would kill Mayweather in less than 30 seconds inside the Octagon. Now Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson has told FOX Sports that he could beat Mayweather in 15 seconds. “I’m faster than Conor, so I’ll get to him and I’ll be able to take out that knee of his.”
Where Does the Money Go?
Of course, keep in mind when betting on boxing that Mayweather isn’t a trained MMA fighter, and as Dana White told TMZ last week, any UFC fighter could beat him in the Octagon – male or female. But time is running out for anyone to put a blemish on Mayweather’s perfect record in the squared circle. Once the Pacquiao bout is in the books, Mayweather has just one more fight on his contract with Showtime, and he says that fight will take place in September – after which he’ll retire.
And he just might. But will it stick this time? Mayweather has already retired at least once, after his 2007 victory over Ricky Hatton; depending on who you talk to, Mayweather also briefly retired after putting away Oscar De La Hoya earlier that year. It took nearly two more years after the Hatton fight for Mayweather to return to the ring against Juan Manuel Marquez. Now, people are speculating/hoping that Mayweather might come back to fight in the new MGM-AEG Arena once it opens in Las Vegas in 2016.
It makes sense. Mayweather has had an excellent relationship with MGM over the years, and the new arena, which could become home to an NHL expansion franchise, is expected to seat 20,000 fans for boxing. Aside from Pacquiao, there might not be another boxer alive today who can fill that arena. But when asked about it, Mayweather said he’d only fight there if the arena were open by this September. Oh well: White says the UFC has already been “promised” the chance to hold the first sporting event at the MGM-AEG Arena.