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Thread: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

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    Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    Is Floyd Mayweather as Talented as Sugar Ray Leonard?

    By John Hively from Boxing Scene

    Many months ago it was reported that Floyd “Pretty Boy” Mayweather had bragged to Sugar Ray Leonard that if the two had ever met in the squared circle during their primes Leonard would have been a sure loser. Trash talking Floyd must have imbibed way too much of some stimulating elixir to have reached such heights of delusional madness. Had the two ever engaged in ring combat during their respective primes, it is likely that Leonard would have beaten Mayweather silly and knocked him out in the process.

    There are a few categories of pugilistic merit that a prime Leonard and today’s Mayweather share. For example, Leonard was as fundamentally sound in the science of boxing as Mayweather, more or less. Sugar Ray was arguably as fast of hand and foot as Floyd, but it is at this point where the skills and experience of the two can be distinguished much more clearly, and Sugar Ray appears to have all of the advantages.

    Leonard was the harder puncher of the two and by more than a fair margin. The evidence is in the number of higher quality boxers the great Leonard stopped during his legendary career, especially when compared to the more modest accomplishments of the trash talking—and carefully managed—Mayweather.

    From 1978 to 1981, Sugar Ray fought in an era when the welterweight division was at one of its historical peaks in terms of fistic talent, featuring several great boxers at or near their primes: Thomas Hearns, Wilfred Benitez, Roberto Duran and Pepino Cuevas. With the exception of Cuevas whom he did not fight, Leonard defeated all of them convincingly. All of these fighters would likely make most lists of the top fifty welterweights of all time. It’s difficult to believe that a carefully managed pugilist like Mayweather would have faired as well against them as did Leonard.

    In Leonard’s welterweight days, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns was a pure fighting machine. Standing six foot one inches tall, the Hitman possessed considerable height advantages over his opponents. He was a highly skilled boxer with two extremely quick hands that were both loaded with sleep inducing dynamite. His fists were so swift and powerful that even the iron jawed Cuevas and the steel chinned Duran fell before the Hitman’s thunderous barrages in less than two rounds each. Leonard the Great rallied to gun down the Hitman in the fourteenth round of a scintillating contest. Given what he has shown thus far in his career, it is difficult to imagine that Pretty Boy could have defeated such a formidable opponent as Hearns, much less last the distance. Edge: Leonard

    From 1978 to 1980, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran was a great welterweight. After giving up the lightweight title, in addition to several other pugilists, Duran ran roughshod over former champion Carlos Palomino. Duran then won the welterweight title when he handed Leonard the only defeat he was ever to suffer during his prime years in their historic clash in Montreal.

    In their second confrontation in New Orleans, Leonard rolled to a close, but clear, lead, before compelling the ferocious Panamanian to quit during the eighth round. It was only the second loss of Duran’s legendary career.

    A vicious puncher and an outstanding boxer at his peak, the prime Panamanian tiger would have overwhelmed a peak Mayweather right from the beginning as a lightweight or as a welterweight. Pretty Boy would have been hard pressed to survive the distance against the controlled, but furious, assaults of this all time great, and nobody would have called him “pretty” at the end of the battle. Edge: Leonard

    Wilfred Benitez was a brilliant boxer with a fair punch at welterweight. He was adept at avoiding the blows of his adversaries and then countering them at will. Benitez won his first world title before most people attend their senior prom. At the age of seventeen, the young wizard of the ring out-thought and out-fought the great Antonio Cervantes to win the junior welterweight title. He then moved up in weight to capture the welterweight belt from the highly competent Carlos Palomino. Sugar Ray handed the great Benitez his first defeat to win the welterweight title, and he did it by stoppage!

    In terms of skill, any battle between Floyd and Benitez would have rated a toss-up, but in terms of who they defeated it is possible to give the advantage to Benitez because of his victories over Cervantes and Roberto Duran. Edge: Leonard

    Pepino Cuevas was a tremendous left-hooker. Bones broke and flesh tore apart when he landed that left hook of thunder. After winning his WBA welterweight title by a second round kayo over capable Angel Espada, the ultra-left-hooker defended it eleven times, ten by kayo; And then Tommy Hearns ruined him for the remainder of his career when he blew Pepino away in two heats. For all of his greatness, it is highly unlikely a prime Cuevas could have defeated a peak Sugar Ray.

    On the other hand, in a clash against Pretty Boy, a prime Cuevas would come forward, and if Jose Luis Castillo proved effective in the first of his two fights against Mayweather, it’s a sure bet that Pepino would do just as well, and most probably better. Until we’re sure just how much punishment Mayweather is willing to take, and what adjustments he can make during a fight in which he is hard pressed and hurt, it would be difficult to pick him as a likely winner over the great left-hooker of yesteryear—not just yet anyway. Edge: Leonard

    All of which brings us to the main problem in evaluating the greatness of Mayweather. Either because he has fought in weight divisions that were devoid of truly great fighters, or because he has been a carefully managed boxer, Floyd has yet to defeat any pugilist that might eventually prove to be an all-time great.

    Jose Luis Castillo, Diego Corrales, Jesus Chavez and Zab Judah are arguably the best fighters Floyd has fought. They are very talented gladiators, and there are no questions about their high level skills, yet none of them rate close to Leonard, Hearns, Duran, Benitez and perhaps Cuevas in abilities. Corrales was suffering from weight and legal problems and was an easy mark for Pretty Boy. Castillo took Floyd to the wire in their first encounter, and some people thought Jose deserved the decision. In their rematch, Mayweather won by a fair margin. Pretty Boy also beat Chavez by a comfortable edge.

    Zab Judah is the best welterweight Mayweather has encountered just yet. Zab’s heart and jaw aren’t the best, and sometimes his mind isn’t even on the fight at hand, as evidenced by his dismal performance when heavy underdog Carlos Baldomir out-hustled the then champion.

    Judah is a good fighter, and certainly of championship caliber, that is, of course, when a great warrior isn’t the title holder standing in his way. Kostya Tszyu bounced Zab off the canvas as if he were a rubber ball a few years ago, and put an end to his title aspirations in less than two rounds, which is something Pretty Boy could not do.

    Did anybody notice that Mayweather never fought Kostya Tszyu? The Russian Assassin possessed a hammer for a right fist, and a war between the two might have made for a great fight, but such a fistic endeavor would have been exceedingly dangerous for the American.

    When taking an opponent seriously, Tszyu possessed an uncanny ability to make minor adjustments to his game during a fight and ensure victory against all comers for seven long years. Ring combat between the two would have been a chess match, and it’s easy to envision a Tszyu win by kayo or perhaps a Mayweather triumph via close decision.

    Should Floyd climb into the ring against the past-his-prime Oscar De La Hoya, we might have a better idea as to his true class. Like Leonard, Oscar fought as a welterweight when the division was at a fairly high peak in terms of fistic talent. However, it wasn’t nearly as great of an era as during the years when Leonard fought in the division, but it was reasonably close. The difference is that Leonard reigned supreme over a stronger division, but with un-avenged losses to Felix Trinidad and Shane Mosley, De La Hoya did not dominate his somewhat lesser era. That’s a big difference between Ray and Oscar.

    If Oscar and Floyd duke it out, Pretty Boy had better win by a comfortable margin if he really wants to be considered as an all time great. It’s not all together clear that Floyd would defeat the speedy and harder hitting De La Hoya. There is significant risk involved for both fighters, and risk is something that Mayweather does not appear to relish.

    It isn’t likely that Pretty Boy will be able to match the accomplishments of Sugar Ray, even if he had the desire to do so. The welterweights of today aren’t a bad bunch of fighters at all, but there doesn’t appear to be a great pugilist in the bunch. Don’t look for Floyd to go up in weight to challenge Jermain Taylor for the middleweight title, or to demand a match with the light heavyweight champion, Antonio Tarver. Those feats are reserved for ultra-talented legendary fighters, guys like Harry Greb, Mickey Walker, Sugar Ray Robinson, Archie Moore, Tommy Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard.

    Given that Sugar Ray fought and defeated the greatest fighters of a great era, while Floyd has been a carefully managed boxer in a significantly lesser period, it shouldn’t be too difficult to determine that Leonard would have prevailed in any battle against Mayweather should those two have ever had the opportunity to duke it out while in their respective primes.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    I think that PBF is one of the best if not the best since SRL.

    Frank B.
    Last edited by kikibalt; 05-23-2006 at 02:48 PM.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    IMO Floyd is full of himself.
    Not saying he isn't a great fighter but he isn't a great welterweight....yet if ever.
    I never rooted for Ray Leonard but bottom line is that he beat a great Thomas Hearns,a great Wilfred Benitez and a great Roberto Duran in the rematch(The loss to Duran in the first fight was more of Leonard not fighting his style IMO)at welterweight.As much as I didn't like Leonard the media darling, he backed it up in the ring.If Floyd fights at Welterweight in the early 80's he's not a champion.However a Pryor/Mayweather fight at 140 lbs would have been interesting.That's more Floyd's prime weight.Maybe Floyd should find Pryor and brag to him how Pryor would have been the sure loser in a fight between them.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    I think Floyd is the best since Sweet Pea. & while stylistically in some ways he reminds me of Ray - Benitez - & Pea ... Leonard's huge power advantage, size & skill set would have been too much for the 5'6 Floyd.

    GorDoom

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    Way too early to say that but I doubt it. Leonard was even faster and hit better. Better defensively as well.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    He Grant ----we're not comparing him to SRL, he is been compare to the fighters that came between SRL and PBF

    Frank B.

    I was wrong we're comparing him to SRL
    Last edited by kikibalt; 05-23-2006 at 05:10 PM.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    You can't compare two fighters' "talents" in isolation. A fighter can only be considered in relation to his opposition, and SRL had the best in a generation. Unless and until PBF can come up with some HOF adversaries that push him to the limit of his skills, it's going to be apples and oranges.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    Floyd is actually 5'8" and was bragging only as a joke. I do think that letting Hatton beat him to Kostya Tszyu was a great mistake. Floyd probably never thought Hatton would beat KT, but he lost a chance to tangle with a surefire HOF'er.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    I think Hearns would have been a terrible match up for Mayweather...Floyd lacks the power at 147 to have really threatened Tommy. Hearns', with his speed, reach and power would have been very, very tough for him...

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    I think PBF is as talented as Ray, but talent is not all that much in boxing. Judah is talented, but he lacks heart, discipline and the mindset of a true champ. I mean, Basilio had very little talent, except he had all of the intangibles that a champion needs.

    I think we will find out how great Floyd is when he his speed is gone and heavy hitting up-and-comers are pounding away at his ribs and chin. I think we got a preview of his fortitude in the first Castillo fight when he arguably won the last 2 rounds in a pretty decent toe-to-toe battle when Floyd thought he was going to lose.

    Until we know how well Floyd does under adversity, I'm reluctant lump him in with the A-class greats like Sugar Ray Leonard.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    You think Leonard was A- ??? I think he was A PLUS.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    That's a hyphen.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    No!

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    Quote Originally Posted by HE Grant
    I think Hearns would have been a terrible match up for Mayweather...Floyd lacks the power at 147 to have really threatened Tommy. Hearns', with his speed, reach and power would have been very, very tough for him...
    I don't think Hearns is a good match for anybody!

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    Except maybe Iran Barkeley.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    Quote Originally Posted by GanchoIzquierdo
    Except maybe Iran Barkeley.
    Yes but Hearns was past his prime and probably over his best weight when he fought Barkley.Hearns last looked like Hearns against Shuler 2 years before he fought Barkley.Between the Schuler and Barkley fights, Hearns looked sloppy in fights against Andries and Roldan.Hearns beats Barkley IMO before 1987.I've always thought Tommy was never prime again after beating Shuler.
    Last edited by OMG65; 05-24-2006 at 01:29 PM.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    Boxer is as good as the competition that they beat.

    Mayweather: Corrales, Castillio, and Gatti.
    Leonard: Duran, Hearns, and Benitez.

    Leonard may have the best resume in all of boxing history. Ali, Greb, and Charles are his only competition in that category.

    Leonard at 147 vs a 130 Mayweather is a royal beatdown. Leonard vs Mayweather at 147 is a murder.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    The only thing PBF has on ray is defense. If they would have fought at welter it would have been murder, as it would not have been a pound per pound fight, it would have been two fighters stylistically alike except for ray leonard has more speed when it came to combinations, more power, naturally bigger and stronger, and just as good if not better boxer/thinker.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    When Mayweather steps in a ring and fights and beats anyone with the sort of talent that Leonard took on i might have a change of heart. But right now Leonard i feel is a class above him.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?


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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    No.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    Mayweather is not even in the same league (not even close) as Ray Leonard. I was never a fan of Leonard's - never - but I have to admit a great fighter when I see one.

    All you have to do to see the difference is watch a tape of the two of them fighting. Watch Leonard vs. Hearns I and then watch Mayweather vs. Judah. There really is no comparison. Leonard is far superior to Mayweather in every facet of the game.

    Leonard would have handled Mayweather with relative ease. You think Floyd Mayweather has good defense? Try Wilfred Benitez or even Duran on for size.

    Comparing guys from one generation to another is not difficult at all IMO, especially from the 80's until now. It's not as though we're trying to compare different eras like Lennox Lewis to Jack Dempsey. Ray fought his last fight at 147 in 1984 and Floyd fought his first fight at 147 in 2005. That's only a nineteen year gap.

    A lot of people now are saying that a guy can only be considered great within his own era or generation. I don't buy that at all. I can look at somebody like Ray Leonard or Duran or Robinson and see that they are great fighters. They would have been competitive, if not dominant, against any fighter you can name in the history of boxing. When I look at Mayweather I don't see that same greatness in his ability. He is very good, but he is not a great.

    There are some great fighters around today, but that's another conversation.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    To compare the two is a wee bit silly I think. Mayweather was a Feather in the 96 games and Ray was two weights above that as a 19/20 year old in Montreal. As for careers, Ray had an amazing 5-6 years and Mayweather has been the outstanding fighter for the past 5 yrs. For a Lightweight, PBF is absolute top notch, amazing. Leonard however was superb as a Welter/154lbs and he would have KO'd Mayweather if they fought at Welter. That doesn't take away from Mayweathers brilliance, I just think he is at best a 10 stone fighter.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    Oh and I think a peak Mayweather beats Pea and Pryor over 12rds on points
    That's how damn good he is

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    Aaron Pryor would have ripped Flyod's head off of his shoulders - PERIOD.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    "Aaron Pryor would have ripped Flyod's head off of his shoulders - PERIOD."

    I agree totally and absolutely with that statement.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    I don't know about Mayweather beating Whitaker. I never really paid that much attention to Whitaker. He and Floyd would've been a decent chess match at 135 or 140 but I still think Whitaker had more moves and more ability overall.

    Personally, however, I never saw the outrage that many did in his disputed loss to Jose Luis Ramirez. I thought the Julio Cesar Chavez draw was OK. I was alright with that decision.

    You've gotta remember that this is professional boxing we're talking about here. Whitaker wouldn't have bust a grape with most of the pitty pat shots that he used to throw and land. Judges are supposed to evaluate that.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    I love Aaron Pryor but will be the first to say he never fought anyone like Mayweather, even in that class...the best fighter he ever fought was an old, slow Arguello....after that an old Cervaentas...he never fought a lightning fast, exceptionally talented fighter his size in his prime...to say with certainty that Aaron rips his head off , the same Aaron that was very hitable, is a bit of a reach. Maybe Pryor harnesses all his talents and overpowers Floyd. However to say it like a lock is a hell of a reach...

    Whitaker is the fighter that would be too much for Floyd...speed would never be enough against Pernell who was more multitalented than Floyd...Pernell would give him fits...the first few rounds against Judah would look like a picnic...Sweet Pea by clear decision...

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    Pryor would run Mayweather out of the ring easily.I would love Mayweather to try and use his shoulder defence on Pryor!
    Pryor could box and people forget that.Can you imagine Zab Judha even in the same ring with the Hawk?He would never make to 8 rds with Pryor.

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    Re: Is Floyd Mayweather As Talented As Sugar Ray Leonard?

    Quote Originally Posted by pendleton23
    Pryor would run Mayweather out of the ring easily.I would love Mayweather to try and use his shoulder defence on Pryor!
    Pryor could box and people forget that.Can you imagine Zab Judha even in the same ring with the Hawk?He would never make to 8 rds with Pryor.
    Judah wouldn't make 8 rounds with Pryor because, clearly, Judah didn't have the chin or the good defense to keeep Pryor off. Mayweather-Judah went to a decision because (a) Judah saved himself with a low-blow and (b) Mayweather's strategy was to wear him down at the body.

    I think Mayweather-Pryor is a good fight. To dismiss Mayweather entirely in this fight is a bit far-fetched and either stems from overrating Pryor or underrating Mayweather.

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