In June 2022, fighting through tears at the banquet the night before his official induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, he nearly whispered the words.
“I’ve been waiting for this for 45 years.”
Friday, August 26th, marked the fifth anniversary of the final official fight in the career of Floyd Mayweather Jr. That last box-office bonanza against MMA superstar Conor McGregor. It’s been even longer since boxing fans saw Mayweather in the ring with Andre Berto in 2015 in his farewell contest with a competitive boxer.
The biggest attraction of his era, and one of the biggest the sport has ever seen, Mayweather’s presence still looms large. He is the promoter of prominent lightweight Gervonta Davis, still a magnet for media attention, and a source of fan debate all these years later. A champion from Jr. lightweight to Jr. middleweight, Mayweather earned his place among the greats.
Whether remembered as “Pretty Boy” or “Money,” Mayweather was never one to settle for just having a place at the table with boxing’s immortals. On the anniversary of the end of Mayweather’s career, it begs a question:
How good was the man who declared himself TBE, the best ever, measured against all time?
Mayweather’s career will be examined in five categories:
Competition Not Faced
Reaction to Adversity
What Did He Prove?
Mayweather’s decorated career leaves lots to discuss in every category. Let’s start with…
The Tale of the Tape
Born: February 24, 1977
Hailed From: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Turned Professional: October 11, 1996 (TKO2 Roberto Apodaca)
Record: 50-0, 27 KO
Record in Title Fights: 27-0, 10 KO including lineal (26-0, 10 KO, WBC/WBA/IBF/WBO only)
Lineal World Titles: World Jr. Lightweight (1998-2002, 8 Defenses); World Lightweight (2002-04, 3 Defenses); World Welterweight (2006-08, 2 Defenses; 10-15, 6 Defenses); World Jr. Middleweight (2013-15, 1 Defense)
Title Reigns: WBC Super Featherweight (1998-2002, 8 Defenses); Ring/WBC Lightweight (2002-04, 3 Defenses); WBC Super Lightweight (2005); IBF Welterweight (2006); Ring/WBC Welterweight (2006-08, 1 Defense); WBC Super Welterweight (2007); WBC Welterweight (2011-15, 5 Defenses); WBA “Super” Super Welterweight (2012-15, 1 Defense); Ring Magazine Welterweight (2013-15, 4 Defenses); TBRB/Ring Magazine Jr. Middleweight (2013-15, 1 Defense); WBC Super Welterweight (2013-15, 1 Defense); WBA Welterweight (2014-15, 3 Defenses); TBRB Welterweight (2015, 1 Defense); WBO Welterweight (2015)
Entered Ring Magazine Ratings: March 1998 (#10 – Jr. Lightweight; Cover Date – July 1998)
Last Ring Magazine Rating: September 2015 (Champion – Welterweight; Cover Date December 2015)
Current/Former Lineal World Champions Faced: Genaro Hernandez RTD8; Diego Corrales TKO10; Jose Luis Castillo UD12, UD12; Zab Judah UD12; Carlos Baldomir UD12; Oscar De La Hoya SD12; Ricky Hatton TKO10; Juan Manuel Marquez UD12; Shane Mosley UD12; Miguel Cotto UD12; Saul Alvarez MD12; Manny Pacquiao UD12
Current/Former Alphabet Titlists Faced: Gregorio Vargas UD12; Carlos Hernandez UD12; Jesus Chavez TKO9; DeMarcus Corley UD12; Arturo Gatti RTD6; Sharmba Mitchell TKO6; Victor Ortiz KO4; Robert Guerrero UD12; Marcos Maidana MD12, UD12; Andre Berto UD12
Record Against Current/Former Champions/Titlists Faced: 24-0, 7 KO
For Mayweather, boxing meant entering the family business. His father, Floyd Sr., was a contender at welterweight in the 1970s and his uncle Roger was a champion at Jr. lightweight and Jr. welterweight. Mayweather Jr. showed promise from early on, winning National Golden Gloves titles from light flyweight to featherweight, a US National title at featherweight, and earning a spot on the 1996 Olympic team. Mayweather settled for bronze at the Games after a highly controversial decision loss to Serafim Todorov.
Mayweather wasted little time rising to the top of the Jr. lightweight division as a professional, capturing the lineal throne and WBC belt with a stoppage of veteran Genaro Hernandez in October 1998. Mayweather was just shy of two years into his career and would defend the crown eight times. A January 2001 bout with Diego Corrales just missed being a unification contest. Corrales had given up the belt just months earlier, originally intending a move to lightweight.
Mayweather moved to lightweight in April 2002 and won the WBC belt from Jose Luis Castillo. Ring Magazine recognized the winner as their first champion since beginning to issue titles again the previous year and the bout can be viewed as the beginning of a new lineage in the class. If not the first fight, the second in December the same year would suffice as Mayweather and Castillo were widely seen as the consensus top two at 135 lbs.
Mayweather defended his lightweight honors three times before a move to Jr. welterweight. In his third and final bout in the division, Mayweather defeated Arturo Gatti for the WBC belt in June 2005. It was the only division of five Mayweather competed in where he did not lay claim to the lineal throne.
An April 2006 win over Zab Judah saw Mayweather win the IBF welterweight belt, a title he quickly abandoned. In November, Mayweather added the lineal and WBC welterweight titles with a unanimous decision over Carlos Baldomir. Mayweather would add a WBC belt in his fifth division, Jr. middleweight, in May 2007 with a split decision victory over Oscar De La Hoya. Tom Kaczmarek’s 115-113 card in favor of De La Hoya was the only official scorecard Mayweather lost in more than twenty years as a professional.
Following a retirement that kept Mayweather out of the ring for all of 2008 and most of 2009, Mayweather resumed his career at welterweight. Mayweather retired as lineal welterweight champion. His win over Shane Mosley in May 2010, despite a lack of sanctioning body title on the line, is regarded here as the beginning of his second reign as history’s champion.
CyberBoxingZone.com recognizes it as such as well. Mosley was coming off a win over the recognized top welterweight at the time, Antonio Margarito. Other sources identify different dates. Ring Magazine recognized Mayweather as welterweight champion again following his May 2013 win over Robert Guerrero. The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB) did not recognize Mayweather as fully returning as singular welterweight king until his win over Manny Pacquiao in 2015.
All sources can agree that Mayweather was ultimately a two-time historical welterweight champion.
Mayweather won his second belt at Jr. middleweight in May 2012, unseating WBA “super” titlist Miguel Cotto. In September 2014, Mayweather added the lineal, Ring Magazine, and WBC belts at Jr. middleweight with a majority decision victory over Saul Alvarez. The Alvarez victory made Mayweather only the second fighter in the history of boxing, after Manny Pacquiao, to claim lineal crowns in four weight classes.
Mayweather would add two more belts at welterweight, winning the WBA honors from Marcos Maidana in May 2014 and the WBO belt from Pacquiao the following year. In the 2014 rematch with Maidana, Mayweather defended both his welterweight and Jr. middleweight titles, a rare dual division title fight. Mayweather retired as welterweight champion following a defense against Andre Berto. He returned officially for McGregor and occasionally dabbles in exhibitions to this day.