LAS VEGAS -- It's hard not to like
It's hard to
"I think he's way off base," said boxing historian
Love him or hate him -- and judging by the mixed reaction Mayweather received at Friday's weigh-in before his welterweight fight with
"I got respect for Sugar Ray Robinson," said Mayweather. "I got respect for Muhammad Ali. But I'm a man, just like they are men. What makes them better than I am? Because they fought a thousand fights? In my era, it's totally different. It's pay per view now, so things change. It's out with the old and in with the new. Like I said, Ali is one hell of a fighter. But Floyd Mayweather is the best. Sugar Ray Robinson is one hell of a fighter. But Floyd Mayweather is the best."
These are curious boasts from a man who in recent years has been regarded as one of boxing's best duckers -- both in the ring and out of it. Inside the ropes, Mayweather's technique is flawless, a combination of superior foot and hand speed and an innate sense of seeing where a punch is coming from the moment an opponent begins to throw it. He lulls fighters into mistakes, and when they make them, he rarely misses an opportunity to take advantage.
Outside the ring, however, Mayweather is equally dodgy. Run down a list of the elite welterweights in the world.
"Half of the guys [Mayweather] has fought aren't household names," said Sugar. "They aren't even household names in their own households."
Mayweather makes no apologies for his selection of opponents or the strategic decisions he's made in his career. He claims he is the best, but adds that he doesn't fight so much for legacy, but self-preservation.
"I don't even rate myself," said Mayweather. "All I do is go out there and do my job. I've been dominating since the '90's. When guys like this fight De La Hoya and then they say 'Oh [he's] unbelievable.' When I fight De La Hoya, they said 'De La Hoya's washed up.' See? Things like this, I don't like."
Whether he wanted it or not, Mayweather will have an opportunity to silence scores of his critics on Saturday night. Mosley (46-5, 39 KOs) represents the answer to virtually every question. He is natural 147-pound fighter who is ranked by multiple publications as the top welterweight in the sport. At 38, Mosley is on the back end of his career but his recent string of victories -- most notably a 2009 knockout win over Margarito -- prove he is still one of the best at his craft.
It's a fight that offers everything Mayweather could ask for. Money. Industry sources estimate Mayweather will earn between $15 and $20 million for this fight. Fame, or at least more of it. With HBO powering the publicity machine with it's Emmy-winning reality series,
"Part of a legacy is meeting and beating other greats," said Sugar. "That's one of the ways of judging a man's greatness. Robinson beat 23 past, present or future champions. I think [beating Mosley] would start to give Floyd a claim [as a great].
Even in victory, the public will still, assuredly, clamor for a showdown with Pacquiao. They will say Mayweather has to fight Pacquiao. But they won't say he has to fight Pacquiao 'because.'
• Official weights: Mayweather 146 pounds, Mosley 147.
• Those waiting for Hatton's comeback fight, keep waiting. Hatton appeared on stage at Friday's weigh-in looking more like a middle-aged vacationing office worker than a former 140-pound champion. "They changed his song," said an industry insider. "It used to be 'there's only one Ricky Hatton.' Now it's 'there's only 1-and-a-half Ricky Hatton's.'"
• Looks like
• Count Hearns and Leonard among those not bothered by Mayweather's boastfulness this week.
"Fighters have to believe they are bigger and better than anyone," said Leonard.
"The confidence thing is fine with me," said Hearns. "It is good for him to have a great deal of confidence. There shouldn't be anything Shane can do to bring him down."
• Golden Boy Promotions will hold a news conference on Saturday to officially announce the rematch between Juan Manuel Marquez and