COMMENTARY | For many reasons, consider it a stretch to mention Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, or any of today's active fighters as all-time greats. The fight game is just in a much different place these days. Schedules are lighter, money is greater, and the overall skill level is not what it used to be.
While the fighters of today tend to be better athletes than their predecessors, the lack of actual ring time has taken something away from them. The skills learned on the road and on the fly against all sorts of different styles and levels of ability are just not there anymore. In today's boxing game, it's a lot easier to be successful as a fairly one-dimensional fighter.
For many reasons, consider Floyd Mayweather extremely fortunate to be fighting right now and at this stage of boxing history.
The five-division world champ has a genius-level ring IQ with a seemingly instinctual feel for the game. Mayweather does by instinct what 12-year veterans must spend hour upon hour learning. The skill level involved in what he does and how he does it is a thing of beauty for those who admire the finer points of the sweet science.
It is this unusually high skill level that has kept Mayweather well ahead of the pack and as close to untouchable as humanly possible. When "Money" enters the ring, one can bank on there being a complete and total mismatch when it comes to the relative skill level involved in the bout. Mayweather is able to exploit the fact that so many of today's top fighters sport all sorts of technical and tactical flaws.
But what would've happened had Mayweather fought in another era against fighters without these glaring weaknesses? There's certainly a possibility that he would've elevated his game even further to still dominate. More likely, though, he would've been a significantly less dominant force.
Hall of Fame fighter and former four-division world champ Roberto Duran belongs to the group that feels Mayweather would've been less of an alpha dog in the sport's past.
Duran, who fought in a weight range in the '80s that included Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Marvin Hagler, and Wilfred Benitez, recently classified Mayweather as "just another guy in the bunch" had Mayweather competed in that same span of time.
"The problem right now is that Mayweather is fighting in an era where there are no real boxers," Duran said. "We knew that kind of style, we were familiar with it. We were used to fighting those kind of boxers."
In a prior interview, Duran also offered Saul Alvarez, who will be fighting Mayweather on September 14, some personal advice on how to handle a fighter like Mayweather.
"If I was going up against a boxer like that, I would bust him up. I would bust him all over the place...the arms, the ribs. The first thing you have to do is forget about the head. The head is smaller than the body. You have to break a man down, and in order to do so you're going to hit him in the kidneys and he'll slowly begin to stop [his movement] and after four rounds he will no longer be able to walk," Duran said.
Of course, a definitive answer to this Mayweather question won't ever be possible. But the old timers and veterans may have valid reason to believe that Mayweather's invulnerability, at least in part, comes from being the right man in the right place and time.
This is not to diminish Mayweather's accomplishments or legacy in any way whatsoever. Through hard work and dedication to his craft, Mayweather has become the riddle no man in this generation can solve. And, really, it's unfair to expect a fighter to be any better than he needs to be in order to dominate the best in his own time.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
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