In the first of a four-part series, we pit Floyd Mayweather Jr. against four of boxing’s biggest names from the Four Kings era. Up first is Floyd versus Sugar Ray Leonard.
Nobody can question Floyd Mayweather’s deserved place in the annals of boxing legend. The man has defeated a who’s who of fighters throughout his decade of prominence.
Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Victor Ortiz, and Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez were all touted as potential conquerors of the Mayweather boxing phenomenon. However, each came up short.
Though there is no denying – even when you consider the Pacquiao controversy – Mayweather’s status as a modern boxing great, just how would the Grand Rapids maestro fair in a more competitive era of boxing where stern tests were in abundance.
Perhaps no era would present such telling tests as the that of the four kings of boxing, throughout the late 70’s and 80’s.
Unfortunately unless some Mensa genius concocts some fantastic design for a time machine all we can do is speculate. Below are some long thought out answers to this captivating yet unfortunately very hypothetical question.
Sugar Ray Leonard Vs. Floyd Mayweather
In an era that was so great, where a fighter as wonderful as Wilfred Benitez slipped undeservedly under the radar, it’s very hard to determine the cream of the crop, but Sugar Ray Leonard’s electrifying displays, in which he conquered all three of his co-kings and even triumphed over Benitez surely earns him the standout spot.
In some ways Ray Leonard and Floyd Mayweather junior are similar fighters. Both are superb boxers and excellent on their feet. Both possess scintillating hand speed and balance. However, while Sugar was a very capable defensive fighter in his own right Mayweather is simply untouchable in that area.
Mayweather may also have possessed the superior timing of the two, but in terms of raw hand speed they’re seemingly even. Sugar Ray, by contrast, was possibly the greatest combination puncher who ever lived. He may also have had significantly more pop in his punches. Style wise they were quite different.
Though Ray Leonard could box as skilfully as Ali, as he showed in the Hagler bout, he often chose to march forward with viscious combinations as seen in his destruction of Thomas Hearns.
Mayweather on the other hand is one of the most scientifically proficient boxers ever to grace the ring. Every aspect of his game is honed to perfection. He rarely gets hit with anything as his “shoulder roll” defence is utilised to evade anything an opponent may discharge. However, his offence, though brilliant, is often limited to one punch counters and pot shot straight right hands.
Ray Leonard is this writer’s all time favourite boxer, in fact sports person. But in trying my best to give an impartial opinion, I think he’d knock Mayweather out. Mayweather’s defence would give Leonard a lot of problems early on but eventually Sugar Ray’s merciless array of punches to the head and body would infiltrate and ultimately decimate Mayweather’s technical efficiency.
Thus a similar outcome to Ray’s bout with Floyd’s father would materialise. The Mayweather father and son have very similar styles and though it’s very evident Junior was superior, Floyd has been very susceptible to pressure fighters throughout his career.
A contentious decision to Jose Luis Castillo in their first fight, some trouble against Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto, and in his last outing a very competitive fight with Marcos Maidana present adequate evidence of this statement.
Also, speed seemed to bother Mayweather early against Zab Judah, and two things Leonard possessed above all else was speed and offensive ability.
Verdict: Sugar Ray Leonard via K.O.
Donal O’Doherty, Pundit Arena.