If he’s to be believed, Floyd Mayweather bowed out of boxing with 49 wins without loss having beaten Andre Berto by a wide points decision.
Love him or hate him, the 38-year-old overcame a collection of exceptional opponents on his way to equalling Rocky Marciano’s impressive record.
Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Saul Alvarez and Manny Pacquiao have all fallen by the wayside in the last decade.
The question now, should “Money” see out his retirement, is who will take on his pound for pound crown?
The multi-strap king of the welterweight division still tops the Ring’s list of global greats, though the names below will scrap it out to usurp him.
Roman Gonzalez, or ‘El Chocolatito’, is currently regarded as one of the most dangerous fighters on the planet.
The diminutive Nicaraguan has a perfect record from 43 fights which includes 37 knockouts. The undisputed WBC World flyweight champion, who has also won world titles at straw weight and light-flyweight classes, will make the third defence of his strap against Brian Viloria at Madison Square Garden next month.
“He’s class,” said Commonwealth super-middleweight supremo Luke Blackledge. “He’ll be the pound for pound king and he could go on to beat Mayweather’s record. His name has only just come on to the scene really, but he’s sharp, powerful, athletic and dangerous. He won’t be beaten.”
Wladimir Klitschko may not have earned the reputation or prestige of Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Marciano or Mike Tyson but the 39-year-old is certainly held in high regard in the sport.
The Ukrainian, who defends his IBO, WBA, IBF and WBO World heavyweight titles against Tyson Fury on October 24th, hasn’t been beaten since 2004. He has dominated on various world platforms since 2006, the second longest reign in heavyweight history.
“He’s got a good team around him and he’s done things the right way,” said Blackledge. “He’s been smart in his career but he probably won’t go down as a great because he’s not got the reputation of others. He gets the job done, he’s a champion, but he’s not exciting to watch.”
Other names in the hat are Gennady Golovkin and Guillermo Rigondeaux. The Kazakh KO king has stopped 30 of his 33 opponents, the highest percentage in the history of the middleweight division. That statistic includes all 14 world title opponents.
“He’s a machine,” said Blackledge. “He’s got incredible punching power and he’s brilliant technically. He’s experienced, there’s big fights for him on the horizon and I can’t see him getting beat. His record will keep improving and he could soon become the best fighter on the planet.”
Cuban fighter Rigondeaux, the “Jackal”, is 34 years of age yet has only had 15 professional contests. The super bantamweight southpaw, a WBA and WBO World champion, is devastatingly skilful but is crying out for a prominent rival to step forward and take a risk.
“He’s a world champion but he’s that good fighters avoid him,” said Blackledge. “He needs a big name to come forward to fight him. Until that happens he won’t get the recognition he deserves. He’s class, he’s dangerous and I don’t think he’ll ever get beat.”
Blackledge, however, foresees a return for Mayweather in the not-so-distant future: “He will fight again. That’s definitely not it for him. He’s got to go out on a high. He needs to fight Amir Khan because that would be some way of setting the record and bringing up win number 50.”