Steve Farhood, whose career as a boxing pundit goes back to cigars and fedoras, has been a writer, editor, and ringside reporter for nearly four decades.
Having been a boxing analyst on the endless buffet of cable sports stations, Farhood will be in his familiar post for Showtime next month, mike in hand, endless opinions on his mind.
Farhood spent a few moments with CBS Local Sports, musing over Floyd Mayweather Jr’s final fight on the network, on September 12.
JK: Why Andre Berto?
Farhood: Berto has been a top guy who makes for exciting fights. When you’re Floyd Mayweather, you can pick your opponent. Floyd isn’t the first one to do that and frankly this has become the Floyd Mayweather Show.
People tune in now to see if he will keep winning, to root for him, and to root against him. For the last several fights, it’s been all about Floyd. If he is still at the top of his game, the opponent is almost incidental.
JK: What do you make of Floyd’s top-five all-time? Why Ali 5th? Why no Ray Robinson?
Farhood: It means a lot to Floyd to be considered the best ever, so maybe that’s why he ranked Ali so low. The mistake he makes is you don’t judge Ali or Sugar Ray Robinson past their primes. Same with Roy Jones.
It’s not up to floyd to rate where he belongs. It’s up to writers and historians. My reaction is this – it’s really almost unfair to rate today’s fighters vs 70 years ago. Robinson fought Jake LaMotta twice in three weeks. Floyd would never fight Manny Pacquiao twice in three weeks.
I studied different generations, and found that with each succeeding era fighters fought exponentially less. There are a number of reasons for that, one of which is they make more money today and don’t need to fight every month.
Starting with the Joe Louis era, the average fights per year drops by one. and now you’ve got Floyd fighting twice per year.
JK: Do you think Floyd is top-ten all-time?
Farhood: Including heavyweights, you have your Leonards, Durans, and Ali and Louis. I’d put Floyd between top ten and 15 all time. It may not sound great, but it is. And he is.
JK: How would Mayweather fare against Four Kings?
Farhood: Mayweather is the best of his era and would have fit in well in any era. A lot of people would kill me for this, but I think Mayweather would have had a great chance against Duran – but at welterweight, not lightweight. But I think Thomas Hearns and Ray Leonard were too big and strong for Floyd. Hagler was naturally too big. Not a fair fight.
JK: Some pundits compare Floyd Mayweather Jr to Pernell Whitaker. Fair?
Farhood: A little different. Subtly different. Both are benchmarks for defensive fighters. Whitaker worked the body better. Whitaver moved more early in his career, then became flat footed. Mayweather moved around better over his entire career.READ MORE: Multiple Juveniles Arrested After Large Gathering, Fights Near Millennium Park
JK: Is it fair to compare eras?
Farhood: You can compare Tommy Hearns to Barney Ross. And you can compare Ali and Louis. But who can say what Dempsey would have done against Klitschko? So it’s easier to compare lighter weights but not heavyweights, because of the disparity in size among big men.
JK: Is Floyd truly transcendent or is he the beneficiary of a diluted talent pool?
Farhood: I think floyd could fight in any era against anyone. He’s a very small welterweight, but his skills translate.
JK: How important has Floyd been to boxing?
He’s been huge. I’ll say he and Pacquiao are huge. Klitschko was dominant but not accepted or beloved and wasn’t exposed to American fans the way he should. So you needed lighter weights. I’d say ever since Floyd beat Oscar De La Hoya, he’s carried the sport.
JK: How big is the hole he’s leaving?
Farhood: It’s a large hole, it doesn’t help that Manny is winding down at the same time. But every time we’ve lost an icon, someone else picks up the spot. We had gloom and doom over Leonard or Tyson or Hagler or Hearns. Yet someone has always picked up the sport.
JK: Is there another star ready to assume the throne?
Farhood: If Canelo Alvarez beats Miguel Cotto, then that elevates him. Triple G (Gennady Golovkin) is another. And maybe Deontay Wilder is better than all of us anticipated. Keith thurman is another.
JK: Do you think he will really retire after September 12?
Farhood: I think he’ll retire. But what does that mean? I think retire is what boxers do between fights. He may step away and reflect, and smell the roses. But when you consider the money and the talent he still has, it’s hard to imagine him stepping away for good.
JK: Why is it so hard for fighters to retire?
Farhood: The answer can’t be singular. The money matters. Fame is as much of a drug as alcohol or cocaine. It’s hard to find the satisfaction in real life that they found in the ring. And they still think they can fight until they’re not allowed to anymore. It’s so hard to walk away, for so many reasons. They’re not trained or inclined to do anything else in their lives.
JK: Do you have a favorite Floyd fight?
Farhood: Great question. My favorite is the first Jose Luis Castillo fight. He made Floyd fight another style than he likes. In terms of Floyd’s best performance, his fight against Diego Corrales.
JK: Will you miss Floyd Mayweather Jr?
Farhood: Yes. I’ll miss his presence. He’s carved out a niche, a personality. God knows he loves money, so i hope he sticks around, even if he’s not fighting. He’s the best at what he does.MORE NEWS: 6 Killed, 22 Wounded In Weekend Shootings In Chicago
Jason writes a weekly column for CBS Local Sports. He is a native New Yorker, sans the elitist sensibilities, and believes there’s a world west of the Hudson River. A Yankees devotee and Steelers groupie, he has been scouring the forest of fertile NYC sports sections since the 1970s. He has written over 500 columns for WFAN/CBS NY, and also worked as a freelance writer for Sports Illustrated and Newsday subsidiary amNew York. He made his bones as a boxing writer, occasionally covering fights in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, but mostly inside Madison Square Garden.