Bernard Hopkins is one of the esteemed pugilistic scientists in the history of the sport. At the age of 44 he is still competitive with the very best fighters in the sport today, who are two decades his junior. So when Bernard Hopkins has questions or doubts about the total legitimacy of Floyd Mayweather, you have to listen and respect it.
“Floyd hasn’t had that adversity. Name one fight that Floyd – fortunately or unfortunately – where he has had adversity? When did Floyd, with your knowledge, been backed up against the wall? Have had an eye swollen? Sitting in the corner and he’s looking and saying, man…? I don’t remember Floyd being in that position. Floyd’s never been in a position to say, I’m losing this fight. I gotta win it. That’s the element of surprise. It’s a helluva thing to learn on the job training. Helluva thing to be in the ring and realize, I never been here before. That’s what makes great fighters. Let’s see if he’s great.”
Some would say Floyd as avoided fighting Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and Antonio Margarito for the simple reason that he knows each of those welterweight champions could take him to the deep water. And Floyd does not want to ever put himself in a dire situation where he would be forced to answer questions he’s never had to face before.
Hopkins also suggests that if Floyd ever were to find himself in the ring with a bona fide big-punching welterweight, we might see a totally different Mayweather, than the dominant artistic boxer we have seen against outmatched opponents like Zab Judah, Ricky Hatton, Henry Bruseles, DeMarcus Corley and Arturo Gatti. We might see a very tentative Mayweather.. “If you know a guy can crack, you gonna think a split-second. A quarter of a second. Okay. When I go in there I gotta go with my head tilted a little bit more. I gotta make sure he miss and then hit. But you’re still thinking, right? It’s all you need. To make a guy re-set his mind, and then he’ll re-set his body. And then he re-sets what he’s gonna do. And with that much time you can do what you want to do. And just play that fiddle all the way till the fight is over.”
Until we see Mayweather face a true threat, a powerful welterweight in his youthful prime, we will never really know how good or how great, or how carefully matched he has been over the last four or five years.