Floyd Mayweather’s already impressive legacy continues to grow as he lounges around retired and swimming in a pool of money we assume (after all, he’s Money Mayweather).
Despite only popping up every now and then to tease a much debated crossover fight against mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor, Mayweather continues to stay relevant in boxing circles in at least one very specific way: the debate over his legacy as one of the best fighters ever.
He can thank himself for that, with a nod to Canelo Alvarez, whom Mayweather defeated in September 2013 by decision.
Alvarez was only 23 years old at the time but had already solidified himself as one of boxing’s best fighters. Mayweather, lest we forget, was 36 at the time, well past the age most fighters start looking worn for wear.
Indeed, typically the younger excellent fighter defeats the old lion, and admitting Alvarez is truly excellent is something long overdue within the community of boxing pundits.
Because Alvarez is clearly the best boxer on planet earth right now.
It’s become cool in some circles to nitpick the fighters listed within the upper echelons of pound-for-pound lists. Perhaps it’s vanity in a way. After all, how else could one justify one great fighter over another to himself, not to mention others, if the reason wasn’t this pundit knows better than everyone else.
(The irony of the previous sentence did not elude me.)
Let me be clear. It’s okay if you have Alvarez somewhere besides No. 1 in your pound-for-pound list. Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev are certainly deserving of such high honors.
And one could make a reasonable case for Roman Gonzalez if one were inclined to believe the flyweight was robbed by judges in his last fight.
But if you have anyone else over Alvarez, you’re just plain wrong. And that includes middleweight monster Gennady Golovkin, who looked old, frankly, and more disinterested than ever in his close decision win over Danny Jacobs last time out.
If your head is about to explode right now, or if your planning to take a swing at me next time you see me, take a deep breath and consider this one thing.
Alvarez has the best current resume in the sport.
That’s the data. Everything else we look at when making up pound-for-pound lists (and that’s exactly what it is: making it up) is pretend data. We don’t know who Fighter A would fare against Fighter B if each man was the same size. We pretend to know.
Alvarez has arguably the most impressive record in boxing right now. His sole loss was to all-time great Mayweather on points, and he holds wins over a murderer’s row of competition most every other fighter, except perhaps Ward, hasn’t had the courage and tenacity to fight.
Alvarez’s career is a case study in what boxing used to be and should be. He’s sought the best competition available and won every fight except one, and the loss did not deter him from continuing to take risks.
Alvarez has gone 9-1 in his last 10 fights against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Liam Smith, Amir Khan, Miguel Cotto, James Kirkland, Erislandy Lara, Alfredo Angulo, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Austin Trout.
Every single fighter on that list is or was legit.
Mayweather and Cotto are surefire Hall of Famers. Lara and Khan have the potential. The rest were all relevant top contenders who were dangerous at the time Alvarez fought them.
If we went 11 back, we’d see another Hall of Fame certainty, Sugar Shane Mosley.
Meanwhile, Golovkin (who I only pick on because he’s currently ranked No. 3 in Ring Magazine’s P4P rankings) has not faced nearly the same level of competition.
His last ten fights, all nice wins, are certainly credible. But do they outrank what Alvarez has done?
Golovkin beat Daniel Jacobs, Kell Brook, Dominic Wade, David Lemieux, Willie Monroe Jr., Martin Murray, Marco Antonio Rubio, Daniel Geale, Osumanu Adama and Curtis Stevens.
That’s three to four ESPN level fighters mixed in with solid contenders who probably hold little chance of being recognized alongside the Mayweathers and Cottos of the world.
Lest you think I’m trying to hide something, Golovkin’s 11th fight back was against Matthew Macklin, a European-level fighter who was subsequently demolished by a world-level one (GGG).
Alvarez has one of the very best pound-for-pound resume’s in the sport right now, and every other piece of information considered in such debates boils down people pretending fights actually happen every time we imagine them in our heads.
Show me a boxing writer who has a 100% success rate on picking winners and I’ll show you a liar.
Here’s one more thought I had during Chavez’s pummeling by Alvarez, and it again has to do with the press release fanfare love for Golovkin over other fighters.
What if Mayweather, who was often jeered over not fighting the best competition at the time boxing people wanted him to do so, had the same exact type of resume as Golovkin instead?
Would he then be as cheered (as Golovkin) is as an unstoppable monster no man could beat?
Heck, most people gave Alvarez a better chance at defeating Mayweather than they do Golovkin, and Mayweather’s resume far exceeds both men’s at this point.
Whatever the case, Alvarez’s dominant victory over the much larger Chavez showed he’s truly a fighter capable of defeating Golovkin and anyone else around middleweight right now.
He’s strong, fast and skilled and his resume is as good or better than any other fighter in boxing.
As Alvarez continues to stockpile excellent wins over notable and stalwart competition in the legendary way he’s been doing it over the course of the last few years, Alvarez, still only 26 years old, continues to give Mayweather and his supporters legitimate reasons to smile.
And Golovkin’s fans reason to worry, too.