Mayweather demands respect as a boxer
It might be difficult to look beyond his actions as a man, but you can only admire Mayweather the boxer, says John McAuley.
“I don’t have that much respect for him as a man,” said Ricky Hatton of Floyd Mayweather yesterday. “But as a fighter he’s pure genius.”
Hatton should know. The Mancunian mauler got acquainted with both sides of the man known crassly as ‘Money’ in 2007, hit with verbal cheap shots in the build-up to their Las Vegas bout and then expertly taken apart in the ring.
Hatton is now a digit on Mayweather’s incredible CV. Number 39 of 43 fights - all victories. Yet one stat proves the undefeated American’s mastery: his opponents land only 20 per cent of their punches. Floyd, fleet of foot and maybe the most deadly counterpuncher ever, rarely gets hit.
And when he does, just like when Hatton temporarily rocked him five years ago, the American has the chin, the composure and the ring intelligence to ensure his record remains unblemished.
Mayweather, bravado aside, is right to proclaim himself as one of the all-time greats. He is an unbelievably disciplined trainer; the most natural of natural fighters who runs completely on instinct.
That stems from a family rich in boxing pedigree - father Floyd Snr, uncles Roger and Jeff - the reason he continues to accrue titles at 35 when his contemporaries feed off scraps and fend off retirement.
In boxing circles, there’s little question about Mayweather’s talents, but outside doubts stem from the uglier side of ‘Pretty Boy’.
Ostentatious shows of his wealth, a mouth that could power Las Vegas and an entourage that now includes Justin Bieber, Mayweather isn’t your vintage hero. He will soon spend 87 days in a Nevada jail for assaulting an ex-girlfriend.
There’s a certain irony that Hatton hit the nail flush on the head when evaluating a man who continues to be the most evasive exponent in the history of the sweet science.
To guarantee his place among the greats, though, Mayweather needs to confirm his legacy by beating Manny Pacquiao. If he does, while it’s difficult to look past the bombast and the bluster to respect Mayweather the man, you can but only admire Mayweather the boxer.