Floyd Mayweather is sitting alone on a benchmark many boxers could only dream of after surpassing the great Rocky Marciano.
Despite having a scare when former WBC minimumweight champion Wanheng Menaythin hung up his gloves at 54-0, Mayweather remains in possession of the undefeated retirement record.
Real name Chayaphon Moonsri, Wanheng’s decision in 2020 would have meant Mayweather was no longer the significant holder. But Wanheng was enticed back and currently sits 55-3 after losing three of those four comeback bouts.
It was of great relief to Mayweather that Wanheng returned to the ring. Three years had passed since Mayweather overhauled Marciano back against Conor McGregor in Las Vegas.
The Michigan legend then sailed off into the sunset on a half-century of wins and with almost a billion dollars earned during his career.
In contrast, Marciano fought in an era when purses were nothing like they are in today’s money. Known as “The Brockton Blockbuster,” Marciano stepped away from boxing in 1955, having amassed what seemed an unsurpassable total of 49-0.
Knocking out 43 opponents, Marciano was a heavyweight force fighting before this generation’s super-heavyweight era.
Campaigning predominantly between 180 and 195 pounds, Marciano would have been a cruiserweight today. But he regularly fought foes far heavier than himself.
This makes his achievements all the more outstanding. However, Marciano could only beat what was in front of him in that era. He certainly did that.
Wins over Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles, and an aged Archie Moore helped elevate Marciano into the Hall of Fame.
These days, all four would have been operating in different weight classes.
Therefore, it’s tough to compare with the top division punchers of any future period. As from the 1960s, heavyweights went super-charged.
Sonny Liston, followed by George Foreman, Ken Norton, and Larry Holmes. They brought in a new breed.
Muhammad Ali, who was a combination of skills and speed, could have made it in any generation.
That 49-fight undefeated run stands up. But longevity alone had diminished year upon year.
Mayweather’s 50 wins come with much more credibility and freshness, simply due to the record-keeping and visual aspect of the 21st century.
A workhorse like Marciano was in the gym; Mayweather had one goal when embarking on his career – to be the best ever.
Never shirking a challenge, the American boxer fought world champion after world champion once he’d made it to the top with a win over Oscar De La Hoya.
Ten years in, Mayweather was the top dog of the new century in 2007 and settled in at welterweight. He never looked back.
Even a spell in jail following a win over Miguel Cotto couldn’t derail the “Money” man’s dominance. The Olympic bronze medal winner came back stronger and beat Canelo Alvarez in the bout after next.
Mayweather vs Pacquiao
It would have been impossible even to contemplate anybody amassing a better C.V. if arch-rival Manny Pacquiao hadn’t come along.
Pacquiao’s complicated claim to beating Mayweather’s achievements comes in the form of unreal eight-weight-world titles.
The Filipino’s emergence simultaneously gives hope to others in the future, even though the ex- Senator lost many times.
Those reverses are probably the major infliction that sets them apart. It remains the number one argument when staunch Mayweather and Pacquiao fans collide in conversation.
No doubt Mayweather’s run-in exhibitions will also enter the equation. However, Pacquiao has since begun his trip to the circus.
Tickets are still being plugged for Mayweather’s Dubai clash with Deji this month, even with just ten days to go. That would have been unthinkable in his heyday.
As for Wanheng, the Thai master will fade into what might have been as Mayweather reigns supreme.
Fighting his entire tenure in the lower divisions, Wanheng had to move up at least two or three divisions to be taken seriously in the conversation anyway.
As things stand, Wanheng will have to be content with probably being his generation’s best 105lb world title-holder.