2000s: Fighter of the Year
Note: This unedited article was lifted from the April 2008 issue of THE RING Magazine for our special 90th Anniversary issue (February 2012).
Floyd Mayeather Jr.
He could stand in the eye of a hurricane and it wouldn’t even ruffle the fur on his chinchilla pants. His defense is so tight that if boxing had a Vezina trophy, he’d win it every year. At times his personality distracts from what he really is: an old-school boxing maestro with more slick moves than Jersey Joe Walcott. But no only did his bulletproof style help him win a pair or high-profile fights in 2007ÔÇöFloyd Mayweather also invaded the mainstream with surprising success. There he was on talk shows, dance shows, Hollywood gossip shows, and reality shows. All that’s left for Mayweather is to appear in his own comic strip. For all of these reasons, Floyd Mayweather has been chosen as THE RING’s 2007 Fighter of the Year.
What is it about Dancing With The Stars that attracts fighters? First it was Evander Holyfield, then Laila Ali, and now Mayweather. Whether it was a genuine desire to show his dance moves, or a chance to hobnob with third-tier celebrities like Wayne Newton and Marie Osmond, Mayweather worked as hard for the ABC show as he does for his fights. He may overestimate what the show will do for his career, but there was no missing the smile on Mayweather’s face as he warmed himself in the spotlight. In his mind, he finally had crossover appeal. Granted, a turn on Dancing With The Stars, doesn’t exactly put him in the Michael Jordan category, but Mayweather has become boxing’s unlikeliest ambassador.
Of course, Mayewather’s mainstream efforts would mean nothing without success in the ring. In that regard, he was mighty fine in 2007. In May he shared the spotlight with Oscar De La Hoya in the year’s most widely hyped contest. That the fight was a disappointment in terms of action nearly overshadowed Mayweather’s accomplishment: He defeated the most famous fighter of the decade and barely broke a sweat. In December, Mayweather stopped the previously unstoppable Ricky Hatton. As if to make up for the lack of excitement against De La Hoya, Mayeather fought hard against Hatton. He ended matters with a left hook from hell that sent Hatton bouncing around the ring like a pinball. It was one of those finishes that brought Sugar Ray Robinson to mind, a perfect punch that seemed to erupt out of the ether. It was a fitting apogee to a career year.