“The Greatest of All Time”

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TBE. The Best Ever.

This is an achievement a newly retired Floyd Mayweather believes he has earned throughout his career. It’s hard to argue against this when considering the fact that Mayweather dominated the sport of boxing for almost two decades, finishing with a perfect record of 49-0. He retired tied with legend Rocky Marciano for most consecutive wins, only one away from being on top.

So, with the recent retirement of Floyd Mayweather, we as fans can finally have the debate. Who is the greatest boxer of all time?

In my eyes, the answer to this question is simple, Muhammad Ali. The man that flew like a butterfly and stung like a bee. Ali retired from boxing in the early 80s with a professional record of 56-5, finishing with a total of 19 world title defenses throughout his illustrious career.

Even I, at 23 years old, having only seen Ali fights through the Internet, can appreciate his greatness and what he meant to the sport of boxing. It’s important to look at the advantages of both these fighters when determining who is truly the greatest of all time.

The obvious advantage Mayweather has on his side is his defense, which is definitely in a class of its own.

But the way I see it, Mayweathers’ greatest advantage is also his greatest disadvantage.

Every time I sit down to watch a Mayweather fight, I’m forced to watch an affair that just drags on and on. This fact made his fight May 2 with Pacquiao a complete dud, as almost everybody I know called it just plain “boring.” This fight failed miserably at living up to the “Fight of the Century” expectations that were placed upon it during the buildup.

On this night, we were all subjected to watching a fight in which Mayweather pulled out every defensive “tactic” in the book. This included things such as ducking, grabbing and holding. Pacquiao was the clear aggressor in the fight, but I was subjected to watching Mayweather evade him in every possible way. We were forced to see the non-aggressor Mayweather steal a win, not by landing powerful punches, but by landing soft counterpunches.

But in reality, none of us should have been surprised by how this fight turned out. Because Mayweather was who he always was.

Throughout his career, he’s entered fights with one goal in mind: to win through his brilliant defense. For him, winning doesn’t consist of knocking out your opponent, but rather making your opponent miss. So I wasn’t very surprised to discover that his last pure knockout — not including the controversial one against Victor Ortiz — came in 1999 against a relatively no-name boxer known as Justin Juuko.

This fighting style is the complete opposite of Muhammad Ali’s, which relied on being the aggressor and knocking out any opponent in the ring. If Ali had been in the ring with an obviously lesser foe, like Mayweather was in his last fight against Andre Berto, then he would have knocked him out early. It was Ali’s urge to fight and willingness to take chances that made some of the most memorable fights in boxing history.

The real “Fight of the Century” occurred Oct. 30, 1974, when Ali stepped into the ring with an undefeated George Foreman. Ali received heavy punishment but, against all odds, was able to knock out a younger and stronger Foreman in the eighth round. This fight, formally known at the time as “The Rumble in the Jungle,” is considered by many boxing experts to be the greatest sporting event of the 20th century.

So with this in mind, it all comes down to this: If you measure the greatest of all time by hitting and not getting hit, then Mayweather is your guy. But if you, like me, go by who gave us the most exciting fights in history, then there’s no one else to choose but Ali.

Alex Quintana covers volleyball. Contact him at [email protected]