Roy and Floyd: Generation's Elite Falls Short in Respect
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Call it the "Curse of Junior."
Though in-ring accomplishments warrant a far higher dialogue, few boxers of this generation are more polarizing than the famous fighting sons of Roy Jones and Floyd Mayweather.
And try as I might, neither the journalist nor fan in me understands why.
Of course, I've long accepted that exchanges on message boards, etc. will be dominated by the "Roy sux" and "call him Gayweather" crowd, predictably chiming in from the corner of Pathetic and Loser.
But I'm always a mite disappointed when the illogical naysaying carries over - admittedly in more articulate forms - to my good friends and colleagues in the traditional and online media.
My only sensible thesis is based on likeability, or in this case a lack thereof.
Because by numbers alone, denying their preeminence looks pretty ridiculous.
Love him or loathe, Jones was inarguably virtuoso in his prime - sequentially conquering four weight classes while besting Hall of Famers (Hopkins, Toney, McCallum, Hill), a credible second tier (Tate, Griffin, Johnson, Ruiz) and the requisite less-heralded filler without hiccup from 1993-2003.
It's a victims list few of his era can match name for name, and one fewer still could navigate in the one-sided fashion the gifted Pensacolan managed prior to an eyes-closed Antonio Tarver left hook that suddenly ended the run at Mandalay Bay in 2004.
Few boxers of this generation are more polarizing than Floyd Mayweather.
He won eight of 12 rounds from a 28-year-old Hopkins. He took nine, 10 or 11 rounds - depending on which judge you believe - from an unbeaten Toney. He needed one body shot to become the first man to stop Hill, who was one fight removed from a second long reign at light heavy.
And the five pristine years that followed, which some dismiss as pock-marked with stiffs, actually included seven reigning, former or future champions - Lou Del Valle, Otis Grant, Reggie Johnson, Julio Cesar Gonzalez, Clinton Woods, John Ruiz and Tarver - in just 13 fights.
That's 53.8 percent, for those scoring at home.
By contrast, Hopkins' lauded 20 defenses at 160 included just one more titlist in seven more bouts - 40 percent - amid a cacophony of middling named Steve Frank, Joe Lipsey, William Bo James, Andrew Council, Robert Allen (3), Antwun Echols (2), Syd Vanderpool, Morrade Hakkar and Howard Eastman.
As it turns out, even 'Nard's most-celebrated wins in that stretch - Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya - featured foils far more suited to welterweight.
And his greatest triumphs since - Tarver and Pavlik - rank no higher than mid- range rungs on Jones' high-caliber ladder, though they're constantly harangued as paradigm-shifting.
It's a convenient massage of reality. But because one's quick with a quote and the other was long dismissive of media and its needs, their bodies of work are graded unfairly similar.
And for whatever reason, the same fate seems destined for Mayweather.
Despite belts in five divisions and a recently-completed decade in which he won 81 percent of the rounds in 15 championship fights, the "Pretty Boy" now known as "Money" is, too, often short-changed in favor of more amiable, less- accomplished colleagues.
In fact, rather than the patsies he's said to have gorged upon while dodging perilous rivals, the conquered roll call includes a Jones-like list of elites (Corrales, De La Hoya, Hatton, Marquez), near-elites (Judah, Castillo, Hernandez, Gatti) and serviceable stuffing since he first emerged at age 21 in 1998.
It's a stretch that prompted Bob Arum to label Mayweather better than "Sugar" Ray.
And when laid alongside the gauntlet imminent foe "Sugar" Shane has run... it's not even close.
Already a champion when Mayweather first joined the belted fraternity, Mosley has won a perfectly respectable 17 of 22 over the 12-year stretch in which his May 1 challenger is 23-for-23.
But, truth told, his final three suitors at 135 were no better than ordinary by any measure.
And while the initial win over De La Hoya at 147 was surely a classic, it's a reach to suggest follow-up defenses against Antonio Diaz, Shannan Taylor and Adrian Stone were worthy of similar tumult.
Two decisive Vernon Forrest losses preceded an iffy rematch win over De La Hoya, which preceded another two losses - this time to Winky Wright - and a prolonged anonymous phase in which as many now-toadies were calling for Mosley's retirement as his renaissance.
The resume also includes a seamy brush with BALCO, now wrapped in the revisionist "I didn't know what I was taking" mea culpa that's almost universally panned when employed by less popular and charming perpetrators in other sports.
Nonetheless it remains Mayweather - he of the sparkling clean bloodwork and unquestioned work ethic - condemned to wear a villainous black hat while an interview-interrupting, PED-admitting wannabe is the against-long-odds favorite of the masses.
If there's any justice at welterweight, the people won't get what they want.
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SATURDAY IBF super middleweight title - Montreal, Quebec Lucian Bute (champion) vs. Edison Miranda (No. 6 contender) Bute (25-0, 20 KO): Fifth title defense; Nineteenth fight in Montreal (18-0, 13 KO) Miranda (33-4, 29 KO): Second title fight (0-1, 0 KO); Four losses since 26-0 start (7-4, 6 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "A good barometer and name foe for an underappreciated champion." - Bute by decision.
WBC/WBO middleweight titles - Atlantic City, N.J. Kelly Pavlik (champion) vs. Sergio Martinez (No. 1 WBO contender) Pavlik (36-1, 32 KO): Fourth title defense; All title fights have ended early (5-0, 5 KO) Martinez (44-2, 24 KO): Fourth title fight (3-0, 2 KO); Winless since 2008 (0-1-1, 0 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "For a guy who's not won in 18 months, Martinez is a live underdog. But I just can't pull the trigger on the upset." - Pavlik in 10.
WBO super middleweight title - Magdeburg, Germany Robert Stieglitz (champion) vs. Eduard Gutknecht (No. 2 contender) Stieglitz (37-2, 23 KO): Second title defense; Lost IBF title try at 168 in 2007 Gutknecht (18-0, 7 KO): First title fight; One KO in last 10 fights (10-0, 1 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "The champion doesn't strike me as unbeatable, but Gutknecht probably doesn't have the power to get the job done." - Stieglitz by decision.
Last week's picks: 3-0
Overall picks record: 182-66 (73.3 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 21-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a frequent contributor to sports radio talk shows throughout the U.S. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz and read more at fitzbitzonfights.wordpress.com.