Yes, He Said It: ‘Mayweather Is Better Than Ali’

Floyd Mayweather weighs in before his fight with Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Sept. 12, 2014.  
John Gurzinski/AFP/Getty Images
Floyd Mayweather weighs in before his fight with Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas Sept. 12, 2014.  
John Gurzinski/AFP/Getty Images

The conversation started with an email from Associate Editor Stephen Crockett to his colleagues, and the responses that ensued led to an exchange about race and class in America:

From: Stephen Crockett

To: Lyne Pitts, Danielle Belton, Genetta Adams

Is the hate for Floyd so strong that white folks are embracing a Filipino fighter over an American fighter? is this the first time in boxing where non-American who is not Latino is getting more love from white America?  

Not saying that some of these wounds aren't self-inflicted but at what point do we as a country stop expecting our black athletes to be modest and "aw-shucks" about everything. Isn't Floyd a product of who we, as a country, have be come? We are ratchet and so is Floyd, time that we embrace our universal ratchet-ness. We are excess and flamboyant and doesn't mean it's right just means it is and he is the reflection of it.  

He is the beast that the world created and he isn't new.

Miles Davis was Floyd Mayweather, hell, Ali was Floyd Mayweather until white America realized he was right. The funny thing is at the barbershop the oth-er day, everyone in there, all black man, hated Floyd. I was the only Floyd defender.

I guess my broader question is what went wrong here. He was supposed to be the next Sugar Ray?​ Here is the funny thing, he is better than Sugar Ray. He is also, and I know that this is…  (I apologize Genetta and Lyne. Danielle I don't know your position but I surely know that if Lyne and Genetta have made it this far they are going to stop reading after this next statement.)

He is better than Ali. Not a better spokesman, not a better person. But, he is a better fighter. Ali was who he was partly because we as black americans we were who we were. We were conscious, and Afros and "right-on brother" and "hey there sister" and Huey and Malcolm and "f—k your war."  

Well, who are we now?  

Everyone has said that Floyd has run from this fight, what will they say after he wins, very easily, I might add and who will he be once he has won and what will we say about the monster we, intentionally or unintentionally created?

Reply from Associate Editor Danielle Belton:

I don't pretend to be an "expert" on "sports," but I'm going to go out on a limb and say Ali was a better fighter. For, like, the sake of history n' stuff.

BUT I will agree that Mayweather is reflective of our times and the type of person who would be attracted to boxing today. Boxing was the original sport that black people were able to get into. Once other sports integrated, most folks dumped boxing and played a sport less likely to destroy their lives. So, it's not that Ali and Joe Lewis, etc. were classier because they had to be, but classier because boxing could still attract people who could read above a fourth grade comprehension, thus would care about how they appeared in public. Thus today you get your Tysons and your Mayweathers who don't have to carry the baggage of being representative of jack shit while punching things.

Also, some white Americans root for Maria Sharapova over the Williams sisters in tennis despite the fact the Williams Sisters are 1) Americans, 2) Better in every way, 3) Revolutionized women's tennis.

The racism is just that strong with some people. Of course those folks'd rather root for Manny.

Lastly, Mayweather is a terrible person. Of course no one at your barbershop liked him. He's an illiterate man-child who wastes money and beats women. The only thing missing from his story is a prison stint and a return to poverty, then an eventual redemption arc and a Scorsese produced documentary on his life. Until that happens though … the hate is real.

Reply from Senior Editor Genetta Adams:

“He is better than ALI”


Listen, as someone who loves both fighters and who is conflicted about who I want to root for (OK, I'm rooting for Pacquiao), it’s hard for me to get on a high horse and argue for what Floyd represents OUTSIDE the ring. He’s a wife beater. Plain and simple. For some people that’s a non-starter. While I can root for the man in the ring, I can’t say he represents us outside it. Yes, he is ratchet, and I’m sure the racist white folks hate him for that “realness," but I think the DV thing puts this beyond the “he’s an arrogant black man” thing.

Ali was willing to lose everything to champion his people and his religious point of view. He lost years of his career for it—so saying Mayweather is a better fighter hold no sway with me, because if Ali could have fought uninterrupted, who knows how far he could gone? Look at how far he did go with what the years he had?

Nah, Mayweather might represent the worst of us. He’s not the people’s champ, bruh.

Reply from Managing Editor Lyne Pitts:

hmmm…I am intrigued by the brothers in your barbershop.

If you'd like to turn your rant into a piece—there is a space waiting for you next week.

Reply from Danielle Belton:

If you do write a piece and you truly want to troll the internet you should say that Mayweather is better than Ali. You'll have a billion head explosions in the comments from furious people who will want to find out where you live and send pizzas that you did not order there.

Reply from Genetta Adams:

Yeah, THAT IS THE ULTIMATE TROLL—I couldn’t type fast enough to respond.

Reply from Danielle Belton:

Exactly. I don't even like sports and I kinda want to send a pizza to Stephen's house that he didn't order. It's a BEAUTIFUL TROLL! Immaculate.

Reply from Stephen Crockett:

ha! and that is what I find hilarious. There are certain ideas, tropes, albums, people you cannot talk about in the black community.

Muhammad Ali- I damn near didn't make it out of the barbershop when I said this and I don't even understand how that can't be up for debate. We aren't talking about some no name fighter with three victories under his belt, we are talking about a man who turned pro in 1996 and hasn't lost a fight since!

He has beaten every man that they said he couldn't beat and made a professional boxer who, I believe was undefeated at that time (Diego Corrales) cry in the ring because he couldn't hit Floyd. He literally started crying out of frustration. I don't know what else someone would have to do in a sport to rise above Ali.

Unless Obama turns pro once he is done presidenting and defeats some 8-foot-tall Russian in a pay-per view fight I don't think any other fighter has a chance.

I will save my Off the Wall is a better album than Thriller rant for next week as I have taken enough abuse today.

Reply from Genetta Adams:

I think you want to make the argument about boxing, which is fine, but what you’re probably running up against is  a character argument. As a man, Floyd cannot hold a candle to Ali, his legacy, his activism, period. I would argue that as a boxer Floyd is good at…running. He uses his speed better than anyone. But as for G.O.A.T.? He might not even make my top 5 if I thought about it long enough.

Reply from Danielle Belton:

To beat Ali you have to be a boxer who can both win fights charismatically while also possibly possessing the ability to turn water into wine. So, I don't see anyone beating that any time soon.

Also, you'd be much less likely to die in an "Off the Wall" versus "Thriller" fight. That's like arguing which Ali fights were better: His fights with Fraizer or the Rumble in the Jungle. That's a fun debate! People like those kinds. You're in the middle of an "Ariana Grande is better than Vision of Love Mariah Carey/Pre-Bobby Whitney Houston" fight.

You can't win that, MAN! YOU'LL DIE!

Reply from Lyne Pitts:

Can I just post this email exchange??? Seriously!

Reply from Stephen Crockett:

Hahahaa. its fine with me.