You don’t have to be a fan of boxing to recognize the name Muhammad Ali. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., Ali wasn’t like the fighters of today who know how to throw a punch but lack the charisma to draw audience members and viewers watching at home in. Ali didn’t move around the ring, he danced. He didn’t throw punches, he pounded his competition all the while making it look effortless. Another thing the Olympic and World Champion was known for was his relentless taunts towards his opponents both outside and inside the rink. He proclaimed himself, “The Greatest” and both boxing fans and sports journalists have agreed. Sports Illustrated named him Sportsman of the Century, Time magazine included him among the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, and a BBC poll crowned him as the Sports Personality of the Century.Earlier in the year Floyd Mayweather gave an interview to ESPN.
When the hosts of the show asked him point blank who was the greatest fighter of all time, Mayweather didn’t hesitate to doubt Muhammed Ali’s legacy.
“If we judge them on standing up for a cause, then Ali is hands down but if we are talking about taking the less punishment and breaking records, it’s Floyd Mayweather,” he responded.
He won 15 world titles and a bronze medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics. Many have named him the greatest boxer of all time, pound for pound.
Leading up to the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao fight on May 2, 2015, Mayweather was more focused on putting Ali down then his match which as the time was billed as The Fight of the Century or the Battle for Greatness
Another great boxer, Mike Tyson, came to Ali’s defence.
“If he was anywhere near that realm of ‘greater than Ali,’ he’d be able to take his kids to school by himself,” Tyson continued.
Tyson is the undisputed world heavyweight champion. He is the youngest boxer to ever win the heavyweight title, he was only 20 years old.
“He’s a little scared man. He’s a very small, scared man,” Tyson said.
“He’ll fight you to the end. He’s really game, like a pitbull or a f*****g rooster. But he looked like a model in his prime! He looked more like a model than a fighter. He was just a dead game guy. He was dead game. He had too much pride. He refused to lose,” Tyson revealed about Ali.
Mayweather Promotions has been in long negotiations for a match between Mayweather and UFC fighter Conor McGregor.
28-year-old McGregor is a two-division UFC champion. He recently applied for his boxing license in Nevada. The only problem is that McGregor will only be allowed to use boxing not UFC moves.
“Only way it can ruin boxing is if McGregor goes and boxes Floyd because he’s going to look really ridiculous boxing him,” Tyson argued.
De La Hoya calls the potential fight a, “circus.” He believes the fight would not be truly competitive or fair since Mayweather will outmatch McGregor, thus putting a “black eye” on the sport.
UFC president Dana White speculates Mayweather could make $100 million for the fight and McGregor’s could be $75 million.
Mayweather will feel right at home since he had his last 12 fights held at the MGM Grand Garden.
It is reported Mayweather spoke to Freddy Roach to train McGregor in preparation for the fight. Roach has trained Manny Pacquiao, Julio César Chávez, Jr., and Amir Khan, to name a few.
“People think I’m a celebrity,” he told GQ. “I’m not a celebrity. I break people’s faces for money and bounce.”
“No one’s work is clean like my work. My shots are clean. My shots are precise,” he boasted.
Nonetheless, Mayweather may still be the man that takes him down. It may win him more money and fame, but he has yet to receive a fraction of the adulation Ali garnered through his career.
One may need to remind Mayweather that as a result of Ali’s refusal to enlist in the armed forces to fight in the Vietnam War in 1966, he was denied a boxing license in every state. He was stripped of his tittles and passport.
Ali did not step into the ring to fight from March 1967 to October 1970. He also lost sponsorships, earning money by speaking on college campuses urging for racial justice and against the Vietnam War.
In 1984, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, many attributing it to the constant hits to the head from boxing.
In his last years he tweeted his support for Black Lives Matter and Traycon Martin. On June 3, 2016, Ali died at the age of 74. Athletes, celebrities, politicians, and fans all over the world mourned Ali. President Barack Obama put into words what many felt about the champ “That’s the Ali I came to know as I came of age – not just as skilled a poet on the mic as he was a fighter in the ring, but a man who fought for what was right,” he said. “A man who fought for us. He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t.”
Months after Ali’s death, Tyson gave an interview to GQ to talk about all the qualities that made the man such a legend and he had to stop midway through. “Man… I can’t even talk… Can’t talk about it… I’m sorry, I get too emotional. (long pause)…I’m sorry that, just talking about Ali, that’s some serious stuff, man. There’s never been anybody like that,” he admitted.