Following his flawless 12-round embalming of Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero for the World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight diadem, Mayweather raised his record to 44-0 with 26 knockouts. The 44 consecutive victories are the most compiled by a reigning world champion since 2007, when Briton Joe Calzaghe defeated Mikkel Kessler to notch his 44th straight victory and successfully defend the world super middleweight title. Calzaghe actually finished his career with a 46-0 record, although his last two victories against Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins came after he gave up the super middleweight crown.
Calzaghe’s 46-0 undefeated run is three victories short of the all-time record for the best undefeated ledger by a boxing champion. In 1956, American slugger Rocky Marciano retired as heavyweight champion with an unbeaten record of 49-0 with 43 knockouts. The only fighter who came close to beating Marciano was Roland LaStarza, who dropped a razor-close split decision to Rocky in a non-title fight in March 1950. In 1953, Marciano settled the score by knocking out LaStarza in 11 rounds in his second defense of the heavyweight crown. Shortly after he retired, Marciano pondered on making a comeback for a shot at 50-0, but a bad back kept him in the freezer.
In September 1985, then world heavyweight champion Larry Holmes came within one victory of matching Marciano’s record, but the “Easton Assassin” was outpointed by Michael Spinks and suffered his first loss after 48 consecutive wins. Holmes archived the gloves in 2002 with a win-loss record of 69-6.
As things stand, Mayweather is the only active world champion who has a decent shot at Marciano’s record. Mayweather was arguably thinking along this line when he signed a lucrative six-fight deal with cable network Showtime. Under the agreement, Mayweather stands to earn in excess of a quarter-million dollars if he wins all six fights in the next 30 months and keeps his lofty pound-for-pound ranking.
The deal with Showtime started with the Guerrero fight, leaving May-weather with five fights to pursue in his itinerary. May-weather, however, hurt his right hand against Guerrero, raising doubts on whether he is physically fit to keep up with the demands of the agreement. Mayweather has been relatively inactive, not having fought more than once in each of the last four years. Asking Mayweather to cram in five bouts in the next 2 + years may be too much for his 36-year-old body. Then again, the lure of matching Marciano’s record makes for an irresistible incentive. Already there are loose whispers that WBC and WBA (World Boxing Association) super welterweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez of Mexico may be next in line. The 22-year-old Canelo totes a record of 42-0 with 33 knockouts and has a brawling style that figures to make a showdown with Mayweather entertaining. Other fighters who are reportedly in the Mayweather sweepstakes are Amir Khan, Danny Garcia and Devon Alexander. Note that majority of the fighters being linked to Mayweather have ties with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. Manny Pacquiao is associated with Top Rank Promotions and HBO, making it quite difficult to insert him in the list.
If Mayweather picks his opponents well (and he has really been very choosy in the last few years), winning the next five fights should be a walk in the park. It is interesting to note though that even if Mayweather completes the Showtime deal, he will only be 49-0, putting him in a tie with Marciano. Mayweather will need one more victory to break Rocky’s record and this fight will already be outside Showtime’s backyard. It would definitely be a dandy if Mayweather squeezes in a fight with Pacquiao in his pursuit of the 50-0 mark, but this means Pacquiao will also have to stay active for the next 2 + years. The fight that truly matters in Mayweather’s career remains elusive, but boxing fans are apparently not ready to throw in the white towel of surrender.
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