By Tom Donelson / Author, Member of Boxing Writers Association of America, and dmboxing.com contributor since 2008
The upcoming Mayweather-Berto is one of those fights that would have been attractive years ago when Berto was undefeated and whose career was on the rise. Now, Berto career as an elite championship caliber fighter has been on life support for years and he lost to two of Mayweather previous opponents; so there is little chance that he will win. The Berto who beat Freddy Hernandez five years ago might have the potential of producing a competitive fight but today’s Berto is not capable of providing a competitive fight unless Mayweather fights like he is 59 as oppose to the 39 he is presently.
A better question is why did Mayweather chose Berto for his “last fight” and his opportunity for 49 straight victories without a defeat. The answer is maybe, he wanted a chance to pick a fight that he could paint one more Picasso against a fighter who would come to him but not be a major threat to win. It is interesting who he didn’t pick including Keith Thurman, Kell Brook, or Amir Khan among others and some pundits have written that maybe Mayweather should have taken on triple G’s for the Middleweight title.
Mayweather took the path of least resistance and while champions have historically taken their share of “easy touches” and some occasions, those easy touch proved not so easy. Ali-Wepner proved to be a competitive fight and how many people put money on Buster Douglas against Mike Tyson? Who knows, maybe Berto may surprise but one shouldn’t count on it.
It is hard to judge Mayweather place in boxing history since he never had that one big fight that says wow. Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns and Roberto Duran produced enough classic fights against each other. Closet that Mayweather has come in fighting a top notch Hall of Fame opponents was his last fight with Manny Pacquiao but this fight may have come some five years too late. Sometimes, we have to wait to see how history works out to judge a great fighter. How many would ranked the 1977 George Foreman or Holmes of the early 1980’s as great all time fighters? Holmes and Foreman did not get their full due until their second tour after initial retirements as they proved competitive against good fighters after they turned 40 and Foreman defeated the undefeated Michael Moorer to recapture the heavyweight title some 21 years after winning his title the first time.
The one fighter that could determine Mayweather true greatness will be Saul “Canelo” Alvarez who is still in his prime as a fighter. If Alvarez has a great career in his own right; then maybe we will appreciate Mayweather more but right now, we will say that Mayweather is a great fighter in his own right but most boxing historians rank him below many of the all-time great.
Which leaves us Berto-Mayweather. Maybe the insulting part of this bout is that it will be a PPV event which means you have pay 50 dollars to watch Floyd “Money” Mayweather beat Berto. After the disappointing Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, how many are ready to fork out another big bill just to see Mayweather beat a fighter who has done very little to earn this shot over the previous four years?
For Mayweather, the fight that may go a long way toward his legacy will be Cotto-Alvarez and if Alvarez gets by Cotto, a possible Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin match up that would prove to be PPV gold. If Alvarez manages to win those bouts; then maybe we will see the Alvarez-Mayweather in a different light. Or what if Pacquiao comes back from his injuries and has an impressive victory over a tough opponent, would we view Mayweather victory over the PAC Man differently? Of if Pacquiao loses his next bout to another opponent, do we view Mayweather victory over Pacquiao; a victory over a fighter past his prime? Mayweather’s legacy is now in the hands of history and how selected fighters perform. One thing for certain, Berto fight doesn’t enhance Floyd Mayweather.