By: Sean Crose
One thing that cannot be denied is that Floyd Mayweather Jr had himself one hell of a boxing career. Fifty wins. Zero defeats. A masterful defense. Underrated power. The ability, perhaps above all, to always remain cool under fire. No matter what one thinks of the brash former pound for pound king, there’s no arguing he was good at his job. Scratch that. He was magnificent at his job. Some people argue Mayweather fought his best opponents past their primes, or that he became too choosy as time went as to who his ring foes would be. Perhaps the naysayers are right. Perhaps not. The one thing that’s hard to debate, however, is that Mayweather gave contemporary fans a false impression of what an undefeated record symbolizes. Not that it was Mayweather’s fault.
Mayweather simply, and intelligently, used his hard earned record as a promotional tool. Who in their right mind wouldn’t use a record like Mayweather’s as a selling point? No, the fault really didn’t lie with Mayweather. It lay at the feet of hype driven fans who, well, were unevenly influenced by hype. Because of the “perfect record” vein of fandom, many terrific fighters risked losing deserved respect and earning power simply by losing a single match. Fortunately, there’s every indication the “perfect record” phenomena is coming to an end. And the boxing world can thank Canelo Alvarez for that.
For it was Canelo, the rising young red haired star from Mexico, who faced and lost to Mayweather in one sided fashion back in 2013. Rather than sit back and simply be an L in Mayweather’s resume of W’s, Canelo and Golden Boy Promotions, kept on plugging along. Even more importantly, Canelo – under the tutelage of his father/son trainer duo, the Reynosos – continued to develop as a fighter. Today, the Mayweather loss seems like an old memory, the L on Canelo’s resume barely recognized. Such is the career trajectory and hard earned popularity of Canelo that even another loss on his record (perhaps to the likes of Gennady Golovkin) certainly wouldn’t put a dent in his image or earning power.
Yet it’s more than wins and popularity that keep Canelo at the top of the boxing game despite an imperfect record. It’s the fighter’s willingness to challenge himself. For instance, when the 52-1-1 star steps into the ring in Las Vegas this weekend to face Sergey Kovalev for the WBO light heavyweight championship, he won’t be facing any soft touch. Sure, the 34-3-1 Kovalev has had his own share of losses. He’s also getting a bit long in the tooth. He’s skilled, though, Kovalev, and also extremely dangerous. Make no mistake about it – this weekend should be no walk in the park for Canelo. And that kind of risk taking only adds to his clout.
Even if he were to lose to Kovalev, Canelo would still be held in high regard. As well he should be. A loss to Kovalev wouldn’t harm Canelo’s reputation. Nor would it likely do much damage to his earning power and popularity. Canelo has seen to that by proving a loss is generally just that, and that there’s more to a career than a bad night…or to…or three…or…