Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are a good study in contrast, but their glaring difference is nowhere more evident in their respect — or lack of it—for the greatest icons of boxing.
Last week, the self-absorbed Mayweather, who proclaims himself as “The Best Ever,” apparently crossed the line. He questioned the legacy of Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson—undoubtedly the consensus greatest fighters of all time.
“No one can ever brainwash me to make me believe that Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali was better than me. No one could ever brainwash me and tell me that,” Mayweather told ESPN “First Take” co-host Stephen A. Smith.
Well, Ali may be 73 and can barely speak because of Parkinson’s disease, but the boxing legend showed he still has that trademark swagger and wit by posting on Monday afternoon his picture in the ring, with the caption, “ “Don’t you forget, I am the greatest!” #MuhammadAli.
While there’s no direct reference to Mayweather, the message is, well, right on the button.
Netizens quickly jumped in the fray as several fans urged Pacquiao to put the brash Mayweather in his proper place by knocking him out.
One poster called Mayweather “the great ducker.”
Larry Goss tweeted, “Ali fight everybody at the top of [their]game,” unlike Mayweather who avoided foes until they were past their primes, like Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley.
“He only ever fought in one weight class,” said Mayweather of Ali, in obvious reference to his titles at super featherweight, lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight and light middleweight.
The brash Mayweather also pointed out that Leon Spinks beat Ali after having fought only seven fights, and then tooted his own horn: “They’d never put a fighter in there with Floyd Mayweather with seven fights.”
In contrast, Pacquiao, who is known for his humility and respectfulness, paid homage to Ali and attended his 70th birthday bash in 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Mayweather also belittled Ali’s rope-a-dope strategy being remembered as a brilliant ploy.
“So you gonna tell me that it’s cool to lay on the ropes and take punishment and let a man tire himself out from beating you and then he basically fatigued? You hit him with a few punches and he go down and quit, and you want to be glorified for that? Absolutely not, not me,” he said.