Boxing writer Thomas Hauser takes a look at Floyd Mayweather Jr. throughout the years
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Photo:HBO)
Love him or hate him, there are very few fighters in recent memory who have had the kind of impact in the sport of boxing that Floyd Mayweather Jr. has. With rumors circulating that Mayweather could be meeting Manny Pacquiao in a highly desired March 13th super bout, the Grand Rapids, Michigan fighter is in the spotlight now more so than ever.
One man who has charted the history of Mayweather with a keen eye is boxing writer Thomas Hauser, considered by many to be today’s standard in sports journalism. Having covered the sport of boxing for several noteworthy years, Hauser has penned 36 boxing related books, including Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times and he speaks with both great passion and brutal honestly when dissecting the sport.
Hauser was asked to a take a trip back in time to 1998 when Mayweather was busy winning his first world title against then WBC Jr. Lightweight champion Genero Hernandez. Nearly sweeping all rounds before the bout was stopped after eight stanzas, Mayweather was brilliant in many regards and his tears of joy afterwards spoke of a fighter whose emotions were on his sleeve. Hauser concedes that there wasn’t much about Floyd not to like during those early years.
“When he was younger Floyd Mayweather was a very talented fighter. He was matched well and he had the look of greatness about him.”
Mayweather would treat his WBC belt like a prized possession, defending it against a variety of former champions and contenders. Slowly but surely Floyd was carving out a respectable resume while showcasing the immense talent for which he possessed. In that same timeframe, however, another man was beginning to make his mark and would soon be considered by many to be a threat to Mayweather.
On October 23rd, 1999 Diego ‘Chico’ Corrales would capture the IBF Jr. Lightweight crown with a wild seventh round stoppage over game but outmatched Roberto Garcia. Fighting underneath the Mike Tyson-Orlin Norris fiasco, the world was witness to Corrales’ great heart and tremendous power as he overcome some early trouble to dispatch Garcia in brutal fashion.
As the years went by a Mayweather-Corrales showdown was one that the public was clamoring for. Many of Mayweather’s detractors felt that Corrales’ size, length, and power would be enough to upend the brash WBC champion and the two men would finally meet in January of 2001. To this day the bout still stands as possibly Mayweather’s finest performance, as he dominated Corrales from the outset with his boxing skills and blazing speed. Mayweather would floor the hard charging Sacramento native five times before the bout was called off. Looking back at the contest, Hauser admits there wasn’t much more you could ask for in a fighter on that night.
“I was very impressed with Floyd against Corrales,” Hauser recalls. “We had thought that Diego had trouble making wait but Floyd still dominated him and did everything you could have wanted him to do that night.”
At that time there didn’t seem to be much you could knock on Mayweather and at 24 years of age the world seemed to be his for the taking. But as the years went by and Mayweather rose in weight and continued winning, he seemed to find himself in the ring with fighters who the public didn't particularly care for. Floyd’s duration in the Welterweight division in particular has had many wanting more, Hauser included.
“I guess I have two issues with Floyd,” Hauser stated after pausing to gather his thoughts. “The first is that out of the ring there have been some issues that do not speak well for him. In boxing terms the biggest issue I have with Floyd is that he has marketed himself very well but he hasn’t taken on the biggest challenges. He ducked Miguel Cotto, he ducked Shane Mosley, he ducked Antonio Margarito, and he avoided Paul Williams. I would have liked him to have fought one of those four guys.”
Any of those matchups would have been intriguing and perhaps then we would have more answers than questions pertaining to the ultra talented Mayweather. When speaking further on Floyd’s recent run in the sport Hauser sees some similarities between Mayweather and another recent pound for pound king, Roy Jones Jr.
“To me Floyd has not sought out the best available opposition the same way Jones for much of his career avoided the best available opposition,” Hauser pointed out. “In Roy’s case, when you go over the list there really isn’t a lot he hasn’t fought. You can say he hasn’t fought Daruis Michalczewski, but Roy at that point would have beaten Michalczewski. When you look at Roy’s body of work he beat some pretty good fighters, including James Toney, Bernard Hopkins, and later went to Heavyweight and beat John Ruiz. There are other guys like Reggie Johnson who he fought who are good, quality fighters.”
While Mayweather may not have squared of with the type of men that would have given us the conclusive results we all wanted, Hauser concedes that the multi-division champion still is extremely relevant within the sport. Mayweather draws interest for a multitude of reasons and Hauser notes that for as long as he attracts a certain kind of attention, HBO will be willing to work with Floyd.
“Floyd represents a magnet for viewers and pay per view dollars,” Hauser said bluntly. “HBO is in the business of providing entertainment for its subscribers and selling fights when they are on Pay Per View. So obviously HBO would like to do more business with Floyd Mayweather.”
The next business that Hauser notes appears to be the aforementioned Pacquiao bout. It’s a fight that people are dying to see and could generate revenue at a record clip. Hauser admits that the fight is of great magnitude but personally can’t get caught up in it without harping on a few details.
“It will be a huge fight if it happens,” Hauser claims. “It will be a crossover fight that attracts interest from the mainstream media and people who don’t know anything about boxing. Once again it’s Floyd looking for the edge, which he will have here again in size. The fight weight we are hearing about is 147 and on fight night Floyd could be coming into the ring with a ten pound weight advantage. So be it.”
In closing Hauser was asked if Mayweather still has time left in his career to turn the tables and win people over. Hauser insists that at the end of the day Floyd Mayweather doesn’t have to cater to anyone but himself. The esteemed writer sees the Pacquiao fight as a challenge in many regards but feels that the Filipino has more to take from the contest at the end of the day.
“I don’t think Floyd has to redeem himself. He doesn’t have to apologize for what he’s accomplished. He’s had a great career so far and he has more good fights left in him. Now he’s fighting Manny Pacquiao. He presents a formidable challenge but lets face it Manny is a naturally smaller guy. Beating Mayweather would do more for Pacquiao than beating Pacquiao would do for Mayweather.