Guest post by Evolve MMA, Asia’s premier championship brand for martial arts. It has the most number of World Champions on the planet. Named as the #1 ranked martial arts organization in Asia by CNN, Yahoo! Sports, FOX Sports, Evolve MMA is the top rated boxing gym in Singapore.
Multiple-time boxing world champion and former pound-for-pound king Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of the sport. He has millions of fans all over the world, and just as many people who don’t particularly like him.
On one end, Mayweather was brash and supremely confident in his fighting ability. He never held back his tongue and would trash talk any opponent he came face-to-face with. It didn’t matter if it was as nice a guy like Manny Pacquiao. He would humiliate him and degrade him with everyone watching. He also flaunted his wealth excessively on social media, making you deplore and envy him at the same time.
On the other end, fans admire his technical skills, his pugilistic mastery, his ability to break down opponents, nullify them, and ultimately defeat them. No matter how big, fast, and powerful his opponents were, Mayweather always won. His perfect 50-0 professional record is proof of that, and there were only a handful of fighters who came close to beating him.
Without a doubt, Mayweather is one of the greatest fighters of all time.
However, if there’s one knock on him, it’s that he strategically picked who he would face in the ring, both in a competition and business sense. He chose opponents that were relatively low-risk but promised great rewards. As a result, he may have avoided a few potential fights while his opponents were still dangerous and in their primes. Boxing fans call that cherry-picking.
Today, Evolve Daily shares five fighters Floyd Mayweather Jr. avoided in his prime.
1) Antonio Margarito
At the height of his powers, Mexican welterweight Antonio “The Tijuana Tornado” Margarito was once considered one of the most avoided men in boxing. Margarito was big for the division, strong and powerful, and most of all, durable. He had no problem taking a solid one to his rock-solid chin, if it meant he could come back at you with one of his own.
Margarito was akin to a brick wall closing in on his opponents in the ring with immense pressure, which most guys folded from. Because of this, not many were willing to step up and go head-to-head with “The Tijuana Tornado,” including Mayweather.
Instead of Margarito, Mayweather chose to fight lower risks like Carlos Baldomir, who had no chance of hurting him, or junior welterweight Ricky Hatton, who came from a weight class below him and was a much smaller fighter.
2) Paul Williams
Another avoided welterweight was former WBO Welterweight World Champion Paul “The Punisher” Williams. While not as physically strong as Margarito, Williams was just as imposing. He stood six feet, 11-inches tall, and towered over his opponents. In fact, Williams enjoyed an excessive height advantage in the three divisions he competed in his career.
Stylistically, Williams was a rangy southpaw with solid boxing skills. He presented a myriad of problems for the majority of opponents who were willing to face him.
Mayweather, who came from as low as super featherweight, was a relatively small welterweight. The length and reach advantage of Williams could have proven too much to overcome for “Money May.”
Sadly, Williams’ career was cut short, after a motorcycle accident in 2012 left him paralyzed from the waist down.
3) Kostya Tszyu
Former multiple-time and lineal junior welterweight world champion Kostya Tszyu was one of the most feared men in his prime. Knockout victories over Zab Judah, Sharmba Mitchell, and the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. earned him a reputation as a stone-cold killer in the ring.
In fact, 25 out of 31 of his victories in his career came by knockout, which turned out to be an astonishing 80%+ KO rate.
Before Mayweather filled his frame and grew into the welterweight division, he built his name in boxing’s lower weight classes. A then-young Mayweather was already a big name in the sport, but still just slowly climbing through the ranks.
Although a showdown with Tszyu would have no doubt been huge at the time, it was just too risky of a fight for him to take.
Ricky Hatton was willing to face Tszyu, and he did, beating him in by stoppage in 2005. Tszyu retired from the sport shortly after.
4) Sergio Martinez
Multiple-division world champion Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez shot to superstardom when he took care of business in back-to-back fights against Kelly Pavlik and Paul Williams in 2010, with the Williams finish earning The Ring’s Knockout of the Year honors. That same year, he also earned Fighter of the Year awards from both The Ring and the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Because of this, so much hype surrounded Martinez and he quickly shot up the welterweight rankings.
Despite calls for Mayweather to fight Martinez, “Money May” never entertained the thought of stepping in the ring with “Maravilla,” not after he saw what happened to the other welterweights who dared to face him.
Mayweather fought just once in 2010, and it was against veteran Shane Mosley, who was at the time already 38 years old and past his prime.
This was certainly a special case inclusion on this list because Mayweather did, in fact, fight Manny Pacquiao and beat him. However, a lot went into negotiating the fight. Although the bout ended up as the richest prizefight in the history of the sport, it was nearly six years in the making.
The clamor for a Mayweather vs. Pacquiao superfight began after the Filipino’s riveting knockout victory over Miguel Cotto in 2009. At the time, Pacquiao was at the peak of his physical abilities and had knocked out six of his last eight opponents. He catapulted to #1 of the Pound-for-Pound rankings, as Mayweather sat out for two years.
Both in their primes, Mayweather and Pacquiao were destined to meet in the ring. But it just wasn’t meant to be. Mayweather baselessly accused Pacquiao of taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs), even though the Filipino had no prior history of it.
Over the course of six years, negotiations were on and off. Fans were often given hope of the fight pushing through, only for that hope to be shattered. In 2015, the fight was finally put together. By that time, however, Pacquiao was already in an obvious physical decline.
In fact, Pacquiao hadn’t scored a knockout victory since the Cotto fight, and he even lost twice, once to Timothy Bradley by decision, and another to rival Juan Manuel Marquez by knockout.
Some fans say Mayweather intentionally waited for Pacquiao’s powers to diminish considerably before facing him.