It is often debated by boxing enthusiasts just how well today’s greats would have fared in different eras. Unfortunately, today boxing is in incredibly short supply of those who can even be considered great. With lighter schedules, greater money, and promoters, now more than ever scheming at the expense of the sport, things are not like they were years ago.
It is hard to argue that the boxer of today is a greater athlete than his predecessor. Improved diets, more scientific knowledge, better training, and in some cases PED’s, have all combined to make a more finely tuned machine. However, there also is likely something lost due to a lack of time spent actually fighting. Learning your craft against various styles and levels of talent are just not the same.
Today, many fighters are carefully guided along, never really taking many chances or facing difficult obstacles. The purpose is to build the fighter into a perceived threat, whether real or not, in order to land a big payday. A fairly limited, one-dimensional fighter is capable of building a nice career before ultimately being exposed.
It is because of this, that many consider Floyd Mayweather very fortunate to be fighting at this time in history. A five-division world champion, it is unquestionable that as an athlete, he is among the best of all time. The same goes for his fight IQ, which is off the charts. Add in his skill level, and few, if any have such a seemingly complete package.
It is this complete package that has allowed Floyd Mayweather to stand head and shoulders against the other top fighters of this era. Every time he enters the ring, he is able to exploit the lack of comparable skills his opponents inevitably have.
But that is with the fighters from today. What would have happened if Floyd had fought in an era where the competition was tougher, and top guys didn’t have as many flaws? Would he have taken his game to yet another level? Or would he have been much less dominating?
The legendary Roberto Duran believes that had Floyd Mayweather fought in his era, he would not have been nearly as dominant. Having competed in weight classes that included Sugar Ray leonard, Tommy Hearns, Marvin Hagler, and Wilfred Benitez, Duran believes that Mayweather would have been “just another guy in the bunch” had Mayweather competed in his day.
“The problem right now is that Mayweather is fighting in an era where there are no real boxers,” Duran said. “We knew that kind of style, we were familiar with it. We were used to fighting those kind of boxers.”
Roberto Duran offered advice to Saul Alvarez, or any other fighters looking to beat a guy like Mayweather.
“If I was going up against a boxer like that, I would bust him up. I would bust him all over the place…the arms, the ribs. The first thing you have to do is forget about the head. The head is smaller than the body. You have to break a man down, and in order to do so you’re going to hit him in the kidneys and he’ll slowly begin to stop [his movement] and after four rounds he will no longer be able to walk,” Duran said.
Unfortunately, we will never find out how well Mayweather would have done against those legends. All we can do is speculate. It is not the fault of Floyd Mayweather that he is active in an era that has a shortage of stars. And if all those legends were active in this era, it is just as likely that the promoters would have kept them all apart anyway.