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Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Floyd Mayweather-Andre Ward is a pipe dream

By Michael Woods

I posted a "What if?" piece late Monday night, talking about a Floyd Mayweather-Andre Ward match. I thought it was pretty self evident that I didn't think this fight would ever actually happen, but a bunch of readers reached out out to me and poked me with the dummy stick.

That's never gonna happen, fool!

Why not book Pacquaio-Klitschko?

Moron!

I got a bunch of that...

Friends, I thought it was self evident, based on my phrasing and more importantly, based on Floyd Mayweather's track record as an ultra-savvy self-manager, that he would not be hopping from welterweight to super middleweight to fight Ward. I guess it was not as self evident as I thought, so let me be more explicit.

This is a pipe dream.

I urge you to take in the fumes, let them marinate, let yourself drift away to an alternate universe, where Floyd Mayweather, a supreme talent in this era, and in the mix of discussion when you bring up best boxers of alltime, searches high and low for the most rigorous challenges.

By and large, most folks seem to think the six footer Ward would be way too strong for Floyd, too large for the 5-8 MoneyMan, but I'm of the belief that Floyd's talent would speak more loudly than most think on the night in Neveruary when Mayweather and Ward face off.

My secondary aim in posting the column was to send a smoke signal to Floyd, a l'il nudge, in order to convince him to change his ways, get him to be less of a manager, and more of a throwback fighter in terms of searching out the stiffest challenges, for the record.

Quick, digressive note, on the issue of civility: I love our nation's embrace of free speech. But I'd appreciate if you do choose to engage me on Twitter, especially, please indulge me and adhere to a practice I seek to employ: please don't write anything you aren't willing to say to my face. Of course, you can outright call me a moron if that's a burning desire, but I'd like to keep the conversation just that, a conversation, and not waste energy on negativity or name-calling.

I went on a radio show last Friday, and being a sports radio virgin, basically, I was stunned by the ignorant rants coming from two callers. They used vile language, and spoke to me like I'd just kidnapped their cat and microwaved it. They did so behind a wall of safety, the anonymous zone of their mommy's basement, or wherever, so they felt especially muscular. (For the record, I spent two years working in a locked psych ward after college, and I found myself hunting for a full syringe of Thorazine for both these maniacs, who seem in dire need of anger management treatment at the very least.) These are trying times for many, and I realize there will be instances of transference, where people are directing ire at collateral targets. I'm guessing some things aren't going right in both those guys' lives if they feel the need to unload with such ire to someone they've never met, so hopefully things will improve and they'll feel less anger moving forward...But I'd appreciate if you feel like blowing off some steam for whatever reason at me, you keep it civil.

Cue the barrage of insults, lol...

Here is the Monday night column, re-posted.

Floyd Mayweather is the best in the business today. He is a singular talent, a star shinier than any other when it comes to doing business in the squared circle.
Now, he’ll tell you that he is the best in the business for the ages, the most talented person to ever lace on a pair. I won’t go that far; I don’t think he’s pursued all foes with reckless abandon, I don’t believe that he has searched far and wide for persons who can challenge him, so as to send a clear and potent message that as far as practitioners of the sweet science go, none is better.

It is with that in mind that I ponder Mayweather’s legacy, and how he will stack up when the historians are mulling the question of an all-time top 20, or top 10, or top 5, or No. 1 in ten, twenty, fifty years from now.

If Floyd wants to be regarded as the best and the brightest, bar none, it would be helpful if his accomplishments compare and contrast favorably with the man regarded by a lion’s share of experts as the second best boxer for the ages, Henry Armstrong. “Hammerin’ Hank” did his thing as a pro from 1931-1945, and finished his Hall of Fame career with a final mark of 150-21-10, with 101 KOs. He still holds the distinction of being the only fighter to hold titles in three separate weight classes—featherweight (126), lightweight (135), welterweight (147)-- and that during a time when there were only eight weight classes in total.

In October of 1937, weighing 124 pounds, Armstrong beat Pete Sarron to claim the world featherweight crown. In May of 1938, Armstrong challenged and beat welterweight champ Barney Ross. The winner weighed 133 pounds, to 142 for Ross. Armstrong gave up 9 pounds, and still scored a UD15 win at Madison Square Garden. But Armstrong wasn’t done. He knew Lou Ambers was holding the welterweight crown, so in his very next bout, in August of the same year, he met Ambers at MSG. Armstrong was 134, and Ambers a half pound heavier. At the end of the night, Armstrong had his hand raised, a winner by split decision.

To boil this down, Armstrong hunted high and low for challenges. He looked left, right, up and down for people to beat, to prove his mettle. One solid example of a modern-day warrior doing the same comes to mind, when Roy Jones jumped from light heavyweight to heavyweight to take on John Ruiz. Jones was 174 3/4 when he beat Clinton Woods in September of 2002, and weighed 193 when he fought and beat Ruiz, then the WBA champion, in Las Vegas, via UD12. Ruiz was 226 pounds at the weigh-in, so he enjoyed roughly a 33 pound edge on fight night.

I happen to think Mayweather stacks up quite nicely among the all-time greats. His genes contain matter that make him a superior fighter, DNA that the rest of the world doesn’t have. His defensive adeptness may not be equaled, and while he doesn’t possess the sort of power to score highlight-reel one-punch KOs, he does have enough pop to bother anybody on a given night. So, what if Mayweather, for his next fight, truly put his money where his mouth is, and challenged 168 pound champion Andre Ward to a scrap?

OK, OK, I’m hearing ya..Mayweather has never weighed more than 150 pounds at the weigh in, while Ward campaigns 18 pounds more than that. That’s a huge weight differential. But recall that Jones, who was then regarded as the pound-for-pound ace, and certainly in the conversation when pertaining to active fighters who might one day be regarded as all-time top tenners, or better, gave up 33 pounds to Ruiz.

Relax, relax, I hear ya, again. John Ruiz is John Ruiz. Point taken, all due respect to Jawny. Andre Ward might well be the second-best boxer in the world today. His ring generalship is in the neighborhood of Mayweathers,’ and he too possesses some genes that the rest of the planet doesn’t. He’s a pugilist, as is Mayweather, and Ruiz was a boxer, one who accomplished more on grit and stubbornness than he had any right to.
But if you want to be seen as THE best and the brightest, better than the Sugars, better than Ali, shouldn’t you seek out challenges that others might dismiss as bridges too far? Shouldn’t you have a Knievelesque drive to jump more buses, waaay more buses, than the hoi polloi thinks possible?

Discuss...