By Ivan G. Goldman
As Adrien Broner started taking apart tough Antonio DeMarco in the first round, legendary Roy Jones, working as an HBO analyst, conceded that Broner and esteemed Floyd Mayweather employ similar styles but then pointed out the main difference. Broner, Jones said, is much more aggressive. He doesn’t just want a victory. He’s out to beat up opponents and knock them out.
As promoter Oscar De La Hoya told Larry Merchant, “Problem” Broner is a fighter “who really likes to fight.” Without quite insulting Mayweather, they both cast doubt upon the degree of his intensity. It’s not surprising. Mayweather is at the top of most pound-for-pound lists, which makes him a target. And because he and Broner employ such similar styles, it’s only natural to compare the two.
There were times when Broner, rolling his left shoulder to avoid a punch from DeMarco and countering with a lightning right-hand lead, had me blinking to make sure I wasn’t really watching Mayweather. But here’s a question Jones and De La Hoya hadn’t considered: Which one would you rather see in a fight? At this point most fans would overwhelmingly vote for Mayweather. We can deduce that from the way they vote with their wallets. No matter who we put in front of Broner, there’s no chance he could generate a million pay-per-views on the strength of his own reputation. At the tender age of 23, he’s not yet a household name.
Mayweather, on the other hand, generates pay-per-view money even when he competes against an over-the-hill Shane Mosley or a twelve-pounds-smaller Juan Manuel Marquez. But does he actually give us a more entertaining fight? Against Marquez and Mosley he put on two terrific displays and dominated almost every minute of every round. He made Mosley, who staggered him in round two, pay a particularly stiff price. Although the pound-for-pound king couldn’t stop them or put either man on the canvas even once, he definitely showed us who owned that ring. He’s not ranked Number One by fluke or sleight of hand. We’ve seen him enough times to know he’s a genuinely great fighter, a historic world-beater who’s never lost in 43 outings.
He so thoroughly dominated Victor Ortiz, you could argue Ortiz went temporarily insane, first executing a hideously obvious billy-goat butt and then failing to protect himself at all times while apologizing. Exit Ortiz, round four.
On the other hand, it’s getting harder to compare Mayweather, 35, against anyone because he competes so rarely. Floyd’s previous kayo was five years ago, against Ricky Hatton. He’s fought only four times in the last five years. You can’t blame all that inactivity on the sixty days he spent in the slammer this year.
Pound-for-pound rulings are subjective by their very nature, but at some point we need to consider whether a fighter who so rarely fights can be fairly measured against guys like Broner or Nicaraguan junior flyweight Roman Gonzalez, for example, who’s fought eighteen times in the last five years, has pretty much cleaned out his division, and at the age of 25 boasts a record of 34-0 (28 KOs). And don’t forget super middleweight Andre Ward, 26-0 (14 KOs), a man who really and truly will fight anybody, including a dangerous light heavyweight like Chad Dawson. You might say with a straight face that Mayweather will fight anybody, but you’d be wrong. Ask Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao, despite his congressional duties back in the Philippines, is active compared to Mayweather, having fought ten times since 2007. He and Floyd have both earned their places as top pound-for-pound fighters and top earners. But Mayweather has remained hunkered down since leaving jail last summer, which allows him to avoid questions about future plans. When he does pop up he trades a few sentences with entertainment reporters, steering clear of boxing writers.
Because all his fights entail huge marketing blitzes, it takes a few months to gear up for them. His last outing, in May, ended with his unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto. He was still a great fighter, but he also showed new vulnerabilities. If and when he fights again, we can only hope that his aggression and execution will compare favorably with young tigers like Broner and make us all know that our pay-per-view money was well-spent.
Ivan G. Goldman’s critically acclaimed novel The Barfighter is set in the world of boxing. Information HERE