By Derek Bonnett: From the title alone, many fans already hate where I am going with this. However, deep down, very deep down for some of you, we all know this assertion is right. After forty-eight professional prize fights, most of which were fought at the top of the game, Floyd Mayweather Jr. has done everything he has needed to become the sport’s number one fighter pound for pound. With world championships in five weight classes, Mayweather -- the undisputed top fighter in each division he competed in this era -- has reserved a seat among the highest echelon of boxing greats and all greats have had easy nights scheduled.
Taking a step back, I agree with the sentiment that Andre Berto, 30-3 (23), is not deserving of a shot a Floyd Mayweather Jr. That claim is just as undisputed as Mayweather’s greatness. However, Andre Berto is not so low as some top fighters go when selecting their opposition to keep busy, make money, or extend their title reigns. Berto, a former two-time welterweight titlist, has never been the best in his division, but he has been a relevant contender for much of his career in the division and typically puts on a good show. Berto, 31, in his current form screams non-title fight opponent. However, those types of bouts have become rarer than in previous decades and Mayweather has participated in very few since winning his first world championship from Genaro Hernandez back in 1998. In fact, twenty-five of Mayweather’s forty-eight bouts have been world championship contests.
The problem with Berto as an opponent was created by Floyd Mayweather himself. He has taken on and beaten twenty-three world champions in his career and consistently dominates top fighters such as Hernandez, Diego Corrales, Zab Judah, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, and Saul Alvarez. Other top fighters may have avoided domination, but were soundly beaten by consensus opinions. At most, only three fighters have made their challenges of Mayweather "interesting". Because Mayweather is so great, no stretch of the imagination can conjure a Berto victory. Not when Mayweather’s three most recent opponents Manny Pacquiao, Marcos Maidana, and Alvarez failed to do so in spite of their own successes.
Mayweather, 38, has taken on and beaten the best the sport has to offer including a few Hall of Fame fighters to be. So, there should be no surprise that the fighter many love to hate will soon be attempting to match one of boxing’s most sacred benchmarks. With a Berto win, Mayweather will equal Rocky Marciano’s perfect 49-0 record. One victory beyond that and we just might see headlines akin to the homerun record chasers in professional baseball. If Marciano’s record were not on the line to be tied, would fans care as much that Mayweather will be meeting Berto on September 12? It probably would not be as large of an issue. Yet, that still does not erase the fact that Mayweather has not fought something we could call a "gimme fight" since he stopped Victor Ortiz in 2011 or even Carlos Baldomir way back in 2009. As far as "gimme fights" go, those aren’t even that bad.
Consider Danny Garcia for instance. Although Garcia is no stranger to criticism, his fighting Rod Salka following a questionable victory over Mauricio Herrera is far less excusable than accepting Berto as a next opponent for Mayweather. Following yet another questionable victory over Lamont Peterson, Garcia just recently defeated Paulie Malignaggi in his welterweight debut. Some will argue, but today’s Malignaggi was not any more deserving of a big fight than Berto is right now. The disparity of the September 12 contest is greatly augmented by the fact that Mayweather is so good and he is on the heels of the biggest fight in boxing history with Pacquiao. Garcia’s big fight with Lucas Matthysse is so far in the rearview mirror that many fans hold Matthysse in higher regard despite the loss.
Another top fighter in the boxing dumps due to his choice of opposition is light heavyweight titlist Adonis Stevenson. Like Garcia, Stevenson has paid his dues and won at a very high level. However, just like "Swift", Stevenson has had a few less than stellar showings after setting a high bar for himself. Since blitzing Chad Dawson to become champion, "Superman" has defended five times. However, the last three opponents diminished his standing in the sport mostly because they were not named Sergey Kovalev. On top of it, Stevenson was dropped by Andrej Fonfara, who is a pretty damn good fighter and he was extended the distance by Sakio Bika. To make matters worse, Stevenson is taking on Tommy Karpency next and not actively seeking the Super Fight in his own division. In contrast, Mayweather just gave us the belated Super Fight fans have demanded for over five years. In all fairness, there is nothing at 147 and 154 that truly looks like a Super Fight as long as Mayweather’s name shares the marquee. This is because he’s already beaten those fighters and, overall, looked very good in doing so. Outside of the first Maidana fight, which I have come to accept the fact that I am the only one who thought Mayweather lost, there hasn’t been another speed bump on Mayweather’s resume since Shane Mosley tagged him in round two of their 2010 contest.
Fellow welterweights Kell Brook, Keith Thurman, and Amir Khan have kept busy, but all are caught in the waiting game and this is something Mayweather cannot be blamed for solely. Brook looked exceptional in his title winning effort and has remained busy against credible opposition to boxing insiders, but most fans give little credit for his two title defenses. Now, Brook could fight Thurman or Amir Khan to push for a Mayweather fight, but the gamble is too big after Mayweather and Pacquiao shattered the bar for boxing purses. Thurman has also kept active, but he has shown vulnerabilities in victories over Leonard Bundu, Robert Guerrero, and Luis Collazo. The critics are overly harsh, but the clamor for Thurman is nothing more than a whisper after "One-Time" got rattled by the aged Collazo. As for Khan, some feel bad that the former champion missed out on the opportunity to fight Mayweather given the fact that he has been in the "Mayweather Sweepstakes" conversation for so long. But, in reality, Khan has failed to look good consistently. Even with good, not great, wins over Collazo and Devon Alexander, it’s not that long ago that Khan was dropped and in a life and death war with Julio Diaz. Then, last time out, he failed to separate himself from the pack with a narrow win over Chris Algieri.
All the while, Mayweather has been taking on and beating the best in the world at 147 and 154. Love him or hate him, he has earned the right to fight whomever he wants to on September 12. That fact that this will probably be the last time we see him fight in 2015 and it will be against Berto stings, but he’s the one who took the punches from Pacquiao, Canelo, Cotto, and Oscar De La Hoya to get where he is today. Once this is over and Mayweather moves to 49-0 as we all expect him to, the bitching can start up all over again about he meets to break "The Rock’s" record. It just might be Manny or a guy named Karim Mayfield. Either way, it will create an uproar greater than if Mayweather had killed Zimbabwe’s prize lion Cecil himself.
Mayweather-Berto just might end up a dose of bad tequila for some, but fans still get the salt and a lime in the chance that we actually may get to see another Mayweather stoppage before he hangs up the gloves, and, so far, we have three competitive undercard match-ups. Vanes Martirosyan and Ishe Smith with clash, Roman Martinez and Orlando Salido will rematch, and Badou Jack puts his title on the line against George Groves. If that’s still not good enough for you, come to Connecticut with me and attend the Cornelius Bundrage versus Jermall Charlo card with Peter Quillin in the opener. I’m sure we can find plenty to bitch about at Foxwoods.
For further boxing discussion, contact Derek DBO Bonnett on Facebook. Also, be sure to "LIKE" the SecondsOut.com page on Facebook.
For further boxing discussion, contact SecondsOut on Facebook. Also, be sure to "LIKE" the SecondsOut Facebook page.
August 9, 2015