- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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LAS VEGAS -- Floyd Mayweather calls himself “TBE,” as in The Best Ever in boxing history. It rubs a lot of people the wrong way. How dare he say he is better than Sugar Ray Robinson or Muhammad Ali?
Mayweather, who meets Manny Pacquiao to unify their welterweight world titles on Saturday night (Showtime PPV/HBO PPV, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in this era’s biggest fight, does, and he makes no apologies for it. Mayweather’s view is that he is 47-0, has won 10 world titles in five weight divisions, and why shouldn’t he believe he is the best?
“I just feel like, like I said before, I take my hat off and acknowledge all of the past champions. Ali, I think he was a legend. I respect Ali like I respect any other champion,” Mayweather said. “I just feel like I've done everything I can do in this sport over my whole life, for 30-something years. I feel like I've done just as much in this sport as Ali did.
“There's no disrespect to him. I just feel like, when you look at it, Ali was great in one weight class, which is heavyweight. But he stood up for a good cause [against the Vietnam War]; he stood up for a hell of a cause in his era.
“I think that it's hard for a guy to beat me. I'm still sharp, still very, very sharp at the age of 38. Still going strong at the age of 38. There's no disrespect to Ali, as I said before. I just feel like I'm the best, no different from how he called himself 'The Greatest,' I call myself 'TBE.'”
One person who strongly disagrees with Mayweather’s appointment of himself as TBE is former heavyweight champion and Hall of Famer Mike Tyson, who has been making the rounds in the media center. He bashed Mayweather for his attitude.
“I try to stay away from dirt,” Tyson said of Mayweather. “The guy is going around saying he is better than Ali. I don’t want to hear that s---. I was always told by my mother that if you can’t say anything nice about someone don’t say nothing.”
Mayweather seemed to know criticism would flow toward him for his boasts even before Tyson said anything.
“I'm pretty sure that I will get criticized for what I said, but I can care less,” Mayweather said. “I couldn't care less about the backlash. I believe what I believe like he probably got criticized at one particular time when he said that he was the greatest.
“He felt like he was better than Sugar Ray Robinson. The list goes on and on. I'm pretty sure there's going to be another fighter that's going to come along and say he's better than Floyd Mayweather and he's going to get criticized.”
Anyone who sides with Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) that he is actually TBE won’t have a case should he lose to Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs). But Mayweather plans to win Saturday and then close out his Showtime/CBS contract in September by moving to 49-0 and then retiring.
“Two fights left,” said Mayweather, before raising the prospect of matching the 49-0 mark that legendary heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano retired with. “People ask me about his record. Rocky Marciano was a hell of a fighter. Rocky Marciano lived in his era. I take my hat off to guys like Marciano, Ali, Ray Robinson. There are so many legendary champions that paved the way for me to be where I’m at. But right now I’m TBE and Saturday before the fight, and after the fight, I’ll still be TBE.”