This question can be heard these days around water coolers everywhere: who was better, Floyd Mayweather or Muhammad Ali?
One of the favorite pastimes of boxing enthusiasts is to compare boxers from different eras, and try to determine who would win specific match-ups, or just decide how the all-time greats stack up in comparison to one another.
With the recent death of Muhammad Ali, and the potential return of Floyd Mayweather from his self-imposed retirement, comparisons of these two super-skilled pugilists have begun (again) in earnest.
Muhammad Ali made it very clear during his lifetime that in his eyes, he was “The Greatest,” but Floyd Mayweather has other ideas on the subject, according to CBS Sports.
“No one can ever brainwash me to make me believe that Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali was better than me,” Mayweather boasted. “No one could ever brainwash me and tell me that.”
Mayweather certainly has some ammunition to back up such an argument. He recently retired with a 49-0 record, including 26 wins by way of knockout. Mayweather’s 49 career victories without a defeat tied the record of the great heavyweight Rocky Marciano, who fought from 1947 to 1955.
Ali’s record is not quite as impressive as Mayweather’s (56-5), but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Three of Ali’s five losses were very late in his career when he was a shell of his former self. It can also be pointed out that many fans and those in the boxing establishment feel that the level of competition Ali faced during his career was much higher than that of Floyd Mayweather.
Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who is very knowledgeable about the history of his sport, bristled when informed by the Los Angeles Times that Mayweather had stated he was better than Ali.
“He’s very delusional. Listen, if he was anywhere near that realm of great Ali, he’d be able to take his kids to school by himself. He can’t take his kids to school by himself and he’s talking about he’s great? Greatness is not guarding yourself from the people, greatness is being accepted by the people. He can’t take his kids alone to school by himself. He’s a little scared man, he’s a very small, scared man.”
There are many others who share Tyson’s opinion regarding Muhammad Ali versus Floyd Mayweather. Martin Rogers of Boxing Junkie is one of many scribes who has cast a vote in this debate for Ali.
“Mayweather is certainly the best right now, and in terms of pure boxing abilities, there is a possibility that he is the best ever,” said Rogers. “But as for being ‘The Greatest,’ that’s for the public, not him to decide, and few would put him in that esteemed company.”
— NYT Sports (@NYTSports) June 7, 2016
We will never know who would have won a fight between Mayweather and Ali; not only were they active in different eras, but they were also not in the same weight class (not even close, in fact). Mayweather was a very athletic and skilled fighter, particularly defensively. Ali fit that same general description, but he did lose some bouts, and did not have the consistency in his career from start-to-finish that Mayweather had.
One thing that makes a debate like this very subjective is the fact that each person will have a different criteria for what qualifies someone as “The Greatest of All Time.”
It seems that Floyd Mayweather has a solid argument here in terms of pure boxing skill and record in the ring. However, most pundits feel that being the GOAT includes many things other than boxing ability. In terms of impact on the sport, effect on the world outside the ring, ability to inspire people, and other intangible traits, there is no comparison between these two men — Muhammad Ali is in a class by himself.
Which of these brash and talented boxers do you think was the best: Floyd Mayweather or Muhammad Ali?
[Photo by AP Images]