Floyd Mayweather is considered the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world, especially since it isn’t clear as to whether he’s done with the sport just yet.
At 49-0, his record is tied with that of heavyweight legend Rocky Marciano, but “Money” possesses a skill and quickness that Marciano’s brawling tactics would have a difficult time keeping up with.
Ultimately, Floyd Mayweather comparisons to Muhammad Ali are more fitting, so it was only natural that when news of Ali’s death broke late Friday night (June 3), someone would want to get his take on the boxing legend.
In a commendable show of class, the oft-outspoken trash-talker got real with ESPN. Here’s what he had to say.
“Words cannot explain what Muhammad Ali done for the sport of boxing. You know, he was one of the guys who paved the way for me to be where I’m at today. So we lost a legend, a hero, and a great man.”
While it has been easy to disagree with Floyd Mayweather in the past, particularly where his actions with women are concerned, it is difficult to do so here.
Muhammad Ali was the prototype for the Floyd Mayweather act, but he was more eloquent, educated and ultimately stood for more throughout his career.
Ali risked some of the best years of his boxing career to fight back against the U.S. government when they tried forcing him against his conscientious objector status during the highly unpopular Vietnam War.
During a time when few boxers could lay a glove on him, let alone get a legit win, he hung up the gloves to prove a point.
After that conflict subsided, Ali made a comeback and shook off his ring rust to regain the Heavyweight Championship of the World.
He encouraged a generation of African-Americans to be their best in whatever they did, and he taught a changing America that it was unwise to underestimate black people in a time when the country really needed to learn that lesson.
Floyd Mayweather has made a lot more money in the sport than Ali ever did, but he has never been quite so centered out of the ring.
His controversies have all been pretty much justified, though he has tried dialing back the “Money” persona in recent years.
While the Floyd Mayweather Twitter account had yet to post an official statement on Ali as of Saturday morning, plenty of other celebrities and sports personalities weighed in on the loss of a true legend of the ring and sports in general.
In fact, in the early hours of Saturday morning Ali’s name had already received more than 1.47 million tweets.
Noted sports promoter Eddie Hearn had this to say.
Waking to the sad news that ‘The Greatest’ has passed. Rest in peace Muhammad Ali you shook up the World???? pic.twitter.com/RtzQxLMvLc
— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) June 4, 2016
Jonathan Snowden of Bleacher Report recalled one of the great moments in Ali’s career — beating up Superman.
I first fell in love with Muhammad Ali because I hated Superman. True story. pic.twitter.com/wPsCwS6l75
— Jonathan Snowden (@JESnowden) June 4, 2016
Billboard recalled Ali’s oft-forgotten music career, proving his Greatness went even beyond social justice and boxing.
Muhammad Ali the Grammy-Nominated, Billboard-Charting Musician https://t.co/z4qIyabU99
— billboardbiz (@billboardbiz) June 4, 2016
As for Floyd Mayweather, there may still be some career left in the retired fighter’s tank as there is a real possibility of a showdown with MMA star Conor McGregor.
Talks have amped up in recent weeks, and if the fight goes through, it will likely be a bigger pay-per-view attraction than the Floyd Mayweather fight with Manny Pacquiao turned out to be.
So what did you think of Floyd Mayweather and his classy tribute to “The Greatest,” readers? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Photo by Chris Carlson/AP Images]