I can’t get worked up about Floyd Mayweather. He’s very good, and worthy of respect--maybe even of admiration. If he’s not the best fighter in the world, he’s comfortably ensconced among the top three or four.
But I can’t help but think that in a tougher era Mayweather would be nothing other than a solid performer—very much in the title mix, but certainly not regarded as unbeatable.
If Floyd were fighting in the early 1960’s, for example, he’d be rated below both Emile Griffith and Luis Rodriguez in the welterweight ratings. Frankly, I think Beny Paret would have been a problem for him too.
In the early 1980’s Mayweather would be behind Leonard, Hearns, and Duran. Could he have beaten Wilfred Benitez? They seem pretty close skill-wise.
I’m not even confident that—circa 1984—he wouldn’t have found Donald Curry and Marlon Starling a little too difficult.
It’s not worth talking about him in the same sentence as Ray Robinson, of course. And Kid Gavilan, Carmen Basilio, or even Billy Graham and fighters of that ilk would have already seen everything that Mayweather could have shown them—which is not to necessarily say that they would have beaten him.
This isn’t meant to denigrate Floyd Mayweather, who really is an excellent professional prizefighter. But the quality of contemporary boxing may have slipped to the point where a consummate pro is now mistaken for an all-time great.