As we approach the mega showdown between Floyd Maweather and Manny Pacquaio in just under 2 weeks, the unbeaten American conqueror has declared himself greater than Mohammed Ali. Mayweather, who has won belts in five weight division rates himself as the best of all time, and rubbish the long standing perception that this acclaim rightly belongs to Ali, who won the heavyweight title 3 times

In an interview with ESPN, Mayweather referred to the accolade of the former Charismatic heavyweight great as ‘brainwash’ and proceeded to criticize the ‘rope  a dope’ strategy employed by Ali in defeated George Foreman in the 1974 Rumble in the Jungle- a triumph that contributed to Ali’s acknowledgement as a great.  In his rebuttal of Ali’s superiority over him, Mayweather asserted ”no one can ever brainwash me to make me believe that Sugar Ray Robbinson and Mohammed Ali were better than me. But one thing I will do, I’m gonna take my hat off to them and respect those guys because they paved the way for me to be where I am today’. He only fought in one weight class. Leon Spinks beat him when he had 7 fights,(but) they’d never put a fighter with Floyd Mayweather with 7 fights, he declared.

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So, you gonna tell me that it’s cool to lay on the ropes and take punishment and let a man tire himself out from hitting you and then be basically fatigued.  You hit him with a few punches and he goes down, and you want to get glorified for that?Absolutely not, not me”. Mayweather has truly had a successful career, beating the best presented to him in a career spanning 19 years! The names of his resume are impressive. They include, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Diego Corrales, and many others. His magical defence skills allied to an excellent boxing brain, has made him the most elusive fighter on the planet! The pertinent question is whether his success is getting to his head and he is failing to recognize the fact Ali faced tougher opposition as a heavyweight who excelled in the ‘glory years’ at a time when the division was saturated with an abundance of talent, one in which many of his victims would have dominated the heavyweight scene in today’s limited pool of talent. Ali won many fights as an underdog. He was expected to fall against Liston, Foreman, and had 3 wars against a top quality Joe Frazier.

Mayweather has a right to consider himself the greatest, but some of his reasoning is manifestly flawed. He may have won belts in 5 different divisions, but Ali surely could not have been expected to do the same thing, could he? He would have killed anybody at a lower weight! Intuitively, despite the American’s current conquest in a division unarguably filled with talent, his multi-weight accomplishments cannot logically feature in any comparison with Ali. Mayweather’s assessment has holes in it. The flamboyant and brash American may have a point in discrediting Ali’s decision to stay on the ropes and soak up punishment, despite the impressive and unanticipated victory that followed. That punishment may have contributed to the sad Parkinson’s disease that has for many years hindered the motor mouth of Ali from running in the unstoppable way it did at a time many of us were not even born. However, the strategy worked, and Ali has been rightfully lauded for it because it produced the result at the time. There was probably no other way he would have won because Foreman was a beast of his time, knocking out top opposition for breakfast. Most experts of the day gave Ali no chance. What’s more is that, Ali’s greatness did not rest only on his achievements in the ring, but also on his magical ability to enthuse and captivate the imagination of the public. He had no formal education, but was naturally very intelligent and witty, also a  strong voice who fought for the liberation of black people in a time when it would have been very unpopular to do so.
Those strengths and qualities can never be attributed to Mayweather, who simply expresses vain materialism in often showing off his money by laying them out like a card game.  In Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather has a tough assignment.  The phillipino is fast, aggressive and explosive, and is already confident he can penetrate the wizardry defence of the American, who has successfully overcome all 47 opponents of his, including those with a legitimate threat.  Still, in boxing, the test is on going. There is always a first time for defeat, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Sugar Ray Robinson, will tell you so. And may just be the loss Mayweather needs, to learn some humility. Pacquaio wants this, and wants it badly. He has the ability to win it, the question is if Mayweather will let him. In the meantime, it is best the American continues to focus on preparation for his biggest fight yet, instead of blowing his trumpet so loud just before a fight that may burst the bubble of his pride.
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