By Frank Warren
Floyd Mayweather Jnr's virtuoso victory over Robert Guerrero last weekend strengthened the case for him to be considered among the finest 'pound-for-pound' boxers since the Second World War.
The 'Money' man might not have been as exciting or as explosive as the two Sugar Rays, Robinson or Leonard – his key rivals for the honour – but there seems to be a growing tide of support that Mayweather might actually have beaten them, had they gone head-to-head.
After snaring an Olympic bronze medal as a teenager at the 1996 Atlanta Games, Mayweather has gone undefeated in 44 gigs over 17 years. Twenty-one of those spats were for bonafide world titles, spanning five weight divisions. Only the naturally heavier Oscar De La Hoya extended Mayweather to a split decision, only Carlos Hernandez has put him on the deck.
Throughout his fighting prime, Mayweather's laser speed, silky skills and, particularly his tactical nous and winner's mindset, have rendered him literally unbeatable.
Over a similar time frame, Leonard had conceded to both Roberto Duran and Terry Norris and profited from a fortuitous draw in his rematch with Tommy Hearns. While Robinson was far busier than Mayweather, he too was tamed during his peak by Jake LaMotta and Randy Turpin.
And though the original 'Sugar man' incredibly won the world middleweight title five times, that's only because he lost it four times!
Now 36, and returning from a year long lay-off which included a 57 day stretch in the shovel following a domestic battery conviction, Mayweather left a quality four-weight world champion flapping at fresh air in Vegas last Saturday. Once the 'Pretty Boy' found his rhythm, he proved damn near untouchable.
Alas, Mayweather's standing in history has been compromised by a dearth of truly top drawer competition against whom he could test his formidable tools.
While Leonard profited from superfights against Benitez, Duran, Hearns and Hagler, and Robinson duelled legends like LaMotta, Gavilan, Turpin, Basilio, Olson and Fullmer, Floyd was denied his career defining showdown with Manny Pacquiao when that match was white hot two years back. Pity. It's a fight I'm convinced he'd have won comfortably.
Mayweather's career certainly hasn't been greater than those of the two Rays but I think the two Rays fought and beat much superior opposition in the golden age.
Two Brits contest world titles this evening.
In his first start since parting with me, Scotland's Ricky Burns makes a mandatory defence of his WBO lightweight crown against Jose Gonzales at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow.
Naturally, I'm disappointed that Burns believes his future is best served elsewhere because I genuinely believe I handled his career perfectly.
Following two emphatic early career defeats, I resurrected Ricky's career when all other promoters viewed him as a leper. After navigating him to the Commonwealth super-feather crown, I delivered three defences in Glasgow which manoeuvred the Scot into pole position with the WBO. Again, I invested heavily to provide home court for his world title win over formidable Puerto Rican Roman 'Rocky' Martinez.
That was the first of seven world title fights I provided during a 24 month period, and five were up in Glasgow. The Coatbridge man's stock was never higher than when he dusted off Dagenham dangerman Kevin Mitchell inside four rounds in a superlative showing last September but, as the saying goes 'If you want loyalty, buy a dog!'
It's no secret that I'm a bit mystified by the course that Team Burns have opted to pursue. Though I'd sealed Ricky a unification fight on home soil against gifted but tickle fisted Mexican Miguel Vasquez, he's chosen to risk his belt for less money against an unbeaten Puerto Rican who's iced 17 of his 22 victims inside schedule?!
The Puerto Ricans fancy their man strongly but Burns is a quality operator if he gets caught he'll go but I expect him to come through and win on points.
Down in Doncaster, local bantamweight Jamie McDonnell receives a gilt edged opportunity to become the tough south Yorkshire town's first world champion when he bumps noses with feted Mexican banger Julio Ceja for the vacant IBF strap at The Keepmoat soccer stadium.
Big up to promoter Dennis Hobson for securing home turf and collecting the tab for Primetime TV's production costs, thus ensuring his kid has maximum advantage and exposure.
The 27 year old plasterer is unbeaten for five years in which time he's snozzled British, Commonwealth and European 118lb titles. He's a gritty box-fighter who's huge at the weight but he'll enter as second favourite to the man from Atizapan de Zaragoza.
With 22 kayos in 24 starts, Senor Ceja, still just 20, might just be the next great Azteca warrior. However, he's yet to venture past ten rounds whereas the seasoned Tyke has travelled the full 12 round championship trip on four occasions.
Expect it to become very interesting if McDonnell is still vertical at the half way point.
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Tags: Frank Warren