This past decade was indeed defined as the Money Era. Future Hall of Famer Floyd “Money” Mayweather (50-0, 27 KO’s) showed the world money reigns supreme.
His presence and precedent was set in previous decades. As a dominating force since the 1990s, back when he was known as “Pretty Boy,” Mayweather captured accolades, bank rolls and world titles in route to a remarkable career.
“I want to be able to separate the average from the good and from the great. I want to separate the ordinary from the extraordinary.” Floyd Mayweather.
It has not been a career without controversy, which ultimately added a few zeros to his account and to what he generated over the course of time.
While the fighter of the decade award isn’t based off money earned or generated, it’s hard to not acknowledge these feats of financial accomplishment, because they factor into the overall influence that is the Mayweather brand. That very same brand impacts athletes across other sports.
That influence of hard work and dedication, commitment towards the respective craft and the ability and propensity to work harder than everyone. It’s the long-lasting relationship with excellence, substance and flash that is the very fabric of the brand.
“If you work good, you’re gonna get paid very well for it. Simple as that, that’s how life goes. If you work hard, you’re gonna get good results. If you talk baloney, you’re gonna be at the bottom with a bunch of people that’s at the bottom.” Floyd Mayweather.
And while we’re on the topic of branding and money earned according to Forbes, Mayweather is the highest grossing athlete of this past decade.
Forbes listed Mayweather as making $915 million in the past 10 years, $115 million more than any other athlete. Mayweather made more than $500 million from the bouts with Manny Pacquiao and Conor McGregor.
The athletes that came closest to Mayweather were soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo (No. 2, $800 million) and Lionel Messi (No. 3, $750 million). To put into further perspective, Mayweather earned more than NBA superstars LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and golf legends such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickleson. He nearly doubled the amount of Manny Pacquiao.
The most important thing regarding the competitive nature of sports is winning.
Winning at the highest level and capturing the ultimate prize. Whether it’s the world title, or highest distinction in the perspective league and the championship that may come in the form of a ring, belt or trophy. Just so happens boxers are referred as prize fighters.
We’ve already referenced the prize ($915 million), let’s discuss other accomplishments attained during the decade.
World Titles• (For the second time) WBC Welterweight Title (2011-2015; 5 defenses) • (For the second time) WBC Super Welterweight Title (2013-2015; 1 defense) • WBA Super Welterweight Super Title (2012-2016; 1 defense) • WBA Welterweight Super Title (2014-2016; 3 defenses) • WBO Welterweight Title (2015; 0 defenses).
Unified Titles• Unified Junior Middleweight Title (2013-2015; WBA, WBC)• (2) Unified Welterweight Title (2014-2015; WBC, WBA, 2015; WBC, WBA, WBO)• Simultaneously held WBC Welterweight Title and WBC Junior Middleweight Title (2007)• Simultaneously held WBC Welterweight Title and WBA Junior Middleweight Title (2012-2015)• Simultaneously held WBC Welterweight Title and Unified Junior Middleweight Title (WBA, WBC) (2013-2015)• Simultaneously held Unified Welterweight Title (WBC, WBA) and Unified Junior Middleweight Title (WBA, WBC) (2014-2015)• Simultaneously held Unified Welterweight Title (WBC, WBA, WBO) and Unified Junior Middleweight Title (WBA, WBC) (2015) *Record.
The Ring Magazine Titles• (For the second time – World Welterweight Title * 2013-2015) • World Junior Middleweight Title (2013-2015).
Lineal Titles• (For the second time – World Welterweight Title * 2010-2015) • World Junior Middleweight Title (2013-2015).
Awards & Recognition• (3) Boxing Writers Association of America Fighter of the Year (2013 and 2015)• (3) The Ring Magazine Event of the Year (2010, 2013, 2015)• (4) Best Fighter ESPY Award (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014)• ESPN Fighter of the Year (2013)• Sports Illustrated Round of the Year (2010; 2nd round vs. Shane Mosley)• Sports Illustrated Fighter of the Year (2015)• Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Edited Sports Coverage (2016; Executive Producer for Mayweather vs. Berto: Epilogue)• Named the 47th greatest boxer of all-time by Boxing.com in 2013.• Named the 12th greatest boxer since World War II by a panel of experts in The Ring Magazine in 2014.• Named the 19th greatest boxer of all-time by a panel of experts from Yahoo! Sports in 2015. • Named the greatest pound-for-pound boxer of the last 25 years by a panel of experts from ESPN in 2016.
Mayweather finished the decade (10-0, 2 KO’s), including (9-0, 1 KO) record in world title fights. That’s one fight for every year averaged within the decade. Nine of the opponents were world champion boxers, the other opponent (McGregor) was a two-division, world champion mixed martial artist in the UFC.
Yes, the fight with the aforementioned martial artist was against McGregor and it appeared as more of spectacle than competitive bout, but facts are facts and wins are wins.
Of the 10 opponents faced for the decade, four are Hall of Fame bound boxers (Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao, Canelo Alvarez and recent inductee Shane Mosley), while McGregor will go into the UFC Hall of Fame. 9 out of 10 opponents were world champions – *McGregor – MMA two division world champion. 4 out of 10 will be in Boxing Hall of Fame – *McGregor will be UFC hall of fame.
As far as other accomplishments go, Mayweather set the record for most world titles held simultaneously with five.
Is there another fighter who can be considered fighter of the decade? Absolutely. Claressa Shields, Amanda Serrano, Terrence Crawford, Vasyl Lomachenko, all have cases.
Andre Ward is another admission; undefeated and considered the top pound-for-pound fighter prior to retirement, while winning five world titles across two weight classes.
Due to a mixture of accomplishment, world-wide acclaim and notoriety, Mayweather’s closest contemporaries would arguably be Manny Pacquiao and Canelo Alvarez.
Alvarez came into his own this past decade, capturing world titles across three different weight classes. He also built his resume taking on big names, experienced and overcame difficult obstacles along the way.
Pacquiao won world titles across two weight classes. Like his counter-parts, Pacquiao was featured in huge fights, some of which historic and he generally performed well for the decade, showing the younger generation of fighters like Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman he still has plenty left in the tank.
While viewing fights and analyzing resumes, an important point of emphasis is to not just acknowledge the name. The condition of the fighter, the career stage the fighter is in and even politics play a role in the fight and with the fighters.
Sometimes, the media does not acknowledge certain variables that may determine the fight and the audience may be led under a false depiction of what is transpiring. Viewpoints, provided the messenger, are also subjective.
For example, in the case of reviewing Alvarez’s world title captured against Liam Smith in the junior middleweight division, or Rocky Fielding in the super middleweight division, why were they selected as opponents?
Was it due to tougher options at each respective weight class? How good were they compared to the other fighters in their respective division? What was the landscape of opponents available for Alvarez at the time?
What was the physical condition of 35-year-old Gennady Golovkin or 35-year old Miguel Cotto when Alvarez faced them respectively for the middleweight crown? Or the condition of the smaller 36-year-old Mayweather, or 36-year-old Sergey Kovalev when they faced Alvarez?
Athlete’s age and peak differently and there are many variables entering the fight for each fighter. This is not to discredit any fighters or create excuses, but to provide insight as to how some fights turn out how they do and to present perspective on rating fighters and achievements.
How good was Jeff Horn, when he defeated Pacquiao for the WBO welterweight world title? How does Pacquiao look old and a little worn for wear in that fight, but two years removed from that date looks much better physically against a better opponent? Was that due to style mismatch? Differences in training camp?
How good was Horn? How good was Chris Algieri? How good is Timothy Bradley or Jessie Vargas? How good was Brandon Rios entering the fight against Pacquiao, coming off a loss and moving up in weight? Was Juan Manuel Marquez on his last leg when he met with Pacquiao for the fourth and final time?
Just how some may question if Alvarez was ready at the age of 23 to face Mayweather, in spite of his status as a world champion and sharing similar professional experience in regards the number of bouts at that point in time.
Some may question the shoulder injury Pacquiao allegedly had facing Mayweather in their epic clash in 2015.
Questions upon questions, variables upon variables.
For the decade, Alvarez had several close fights in which he was the beneficiary of – the bouts against Golovkin, Erislandy Lara and Miguel Cotto. Alvarez wasn’t so fortunate against Mayweather losing via Majority Decision.
Pacquiao suffered close defeats to Horn and Bradley, lost on wide margin against Mayweather and in route to a dominate performance against Marquez, caught a right-hand counter from hell and went to dreamland losing via 6th round KO.
A final capstone on the debate between Mayweather, Pacquiao and Alvarez, for Mayweather’s argument, he boasts the claim of having defeated beat both rivals in dominant fashion.
“Everybody is blessed with a certain talent, you have to know what that talent is, you have to maximize it and push it to the limit.” Floyd Mayweather.
He has an undefeated streak spanning three decades. Manyfighters wants to be like him whether they openly admit it or not.
For example, the admiration from Adrien Broner and Gervonta Davis is apparent if we observe their style inside the ring and their personas outside the ring.
Young champions such as Teofimo Lopez, Shakur Stevenson and Devin Haney mentioned Mayweather as one of the guys they look up to from a boxing and business perspective.
Something new Mayweather brought to the table this past decade was the thought of participating in these exhibition matches – and getting paid for it. McGregor was somewhat of an exhibition and so was Mayweather’s fight against Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa.
Mikey Garcia and Alvarez are attempting to emulate the samemoves by Mayweather.
As far as flash, both Alvarez and Garcia like to show off their car collections. But on another level, Garcia participated in a well-publicized sparring spectacle with Hall of Famer Erik Morales. This can be the way of the future not only for Garica, but for other fighters post-retirement to make extra dividends.
Garcia also controls who and when he fights; he exercises that professional freedom many others wish they had and Alvarez is starting to do the same.
Aside from the car collection, Alvarez displayed moments of admiration for Mayweather by emulating the shoulder roll and mirror other Mayweather moves in some of his fights. Alvarez also voiced his desire to fight McGregor – like Mayweather did. Alvarez vs. a mma fighter may transpire sometime in the near future – and that’s a direct influence from Mayweather.
Even the senator from the Philippines was influenced by Mayweather. Pacquiao signed over to Premier Boxing Champions with Mayweather’s longtime advisor Al Haymon. He followed the advice Mayweather offered years ago, when he told Pacquiao to leave Top Rank Promotions and take greater financial control of his career.
McGregor followed the Mayweather blueprint to a tee. The Irishman cultivated a villainous, comical character within realm of UFC and is maximizing his earning potential for that company every time he steps in the octagon or squared circle.
The influence alone warrants fighter of the decade. Isn’t that partly why the award was presented to Pacquiao in the preceding decade?
The Grand Rapids native has a legitimate claim to fighter of the decade for the 2000s as well.
Whether or not he officially receives that honor from the writers and media members responsible is another story. However, that acknowledgement does not define a fighter and their career. It’s simply just another award, another trinket to add to bestow upon a fighter for them to add to their resume.
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