Mayweather’s Marvelous Moment

By Clarence George on September 12, 2014
Mayweather’s Marvelous Moment
Who's boxing's hero today? Floyd Mayweather? Gennady Golovkin? Sergey Kovalev?

Baseball ain’t what it was in ‘74. As for boxing…Rocky Marciano retired undefeated almost 60 years ago…

“You can only milk a cow so long, then you’re left holding the pail.”—Hank Aaron

Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be very careful in choosing his 2015 opponents (though cherry-picking might get him the raspberry). Trying for his 50th win will take him into 2016, when selectivity may not be enough to trump age. Even if he wins, it may mean less than he thinks. Comparing a welterweight and heavyweight’s records is apples and oranges, especially when you take into account that the heavyweight division is the only one that many recognize; the only one of the 17 that they’ve vaguely heard of. “What’s a bantamweight?” “About two pounds. Schulz’s Butcher Shop down on Avenue C carries them sometimes.” Last but not least, Rocky Marciano is a hero of the sport. You don’t have that anymore, not in a world where sports fans (never mind the general public) devote a mere one percent of their time to the Sweet Science, and where the concept of heroism has been diluted to such an extent that it’s now well-nigh meaningless. Who’s boxing’s hero today? Mayweather? Gennady Golovkin? Sergey Kovalev? Try first openly gay boxer Orlando Cruz. Thank God the Sweet Science has an answer to first openly gay diver Greg Louganis.

Does anyone really think that a 50th win for Mayweather, the surpassing of “The Brockton Blockbuster,” will generate anywhere near the excitement of Hank Aaron hot on the heels of Babe Ruth?

I’m not a baseball fan, but I well recall the passion, the excitement…the vitriol. Aaron received well over 900,000 letters as he edged ever closer to dethroning King Babe. Many expressed their love for Ruth, which was fine, but many more were darkly racist and threatened death, which was anything but. One “gentleman” wrote, addressing Aaron as “Dear Mr. Nigger,” “I hope you don’t break the Babe’s record. How do I tell my kids that a nigger did it.” That last sentence really does require a question mark, sir. Just saying.

The Braves took on the Los Angeles Dodgers in their hometown of Atlanta on April 8, 1974. It was in the fourth inning that Aaron hit home run number 715 off Dodgers pitcher Al Downing, and…well, let’s tune in to WSB, and Braves announcer Milo Hamilton: “Henry Aaron in the second inning walked and scored. He’s sitting on 714. Here’s the pitch by Downing. Swinging. There’s a drive into left-center field. That ball is gonna be…outta here! It’s gone! It’s 715! There’s a new home run champion of all time, and it’s Henry Aaron… And listen to this crowd!”

Dodgers announcer Vin Scully called it a “marvelous moment.”

Baseball ain’t what it was in ‘74. As for boxing…Marciano retired undefeated with his 49 almost 60 years ago. Boxing don’t have those kinds of crowds no more…never mind marvelous moments.

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  1. Leslie 10:31pm, 09/13/2014


  2. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 11:28am, 09/12/2014

    Eric-Bonds was juiced for at least 2000 of those at bats (not just in 2001) because he was so jealous of “white boy” Mark McGwire

  3. Eric 08:46am, 09/12/2014

    These are the number of official bats it took for Bonds, Aaron, and Ruth to reach 714 home runs.

    Aaron 11,291
    Bonds 9,234
    Ruth 8,388

  4. Clarence George 03:09pm, 09/11/2014

    Booze and women…flaws, defects, Frank?  Well, “one man’s pudding is another man’s poison,” to quoth the Bard…or somebody.

    By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever written about Greb.  Why does he obsess you so?  “Fascinating,” as Mr. Spock used to say.  And, yes, I’m sure it was Spock.

  5. FrankinDallas 02:44pm, 09/11/2014

    Aaron had.more “character flaws and personality defects” than Babe Ruth?
    Lord have mercy! Stick to Harry Grebb stories and stay away from baseball.
    Even the most casual of observers has heard about the Babe’s exploits with booze
    and broads…..he’s my favorite bb player but Hammering Hank is Mother Teresa compared to the Babe.

  6. FrankinDallas 02:34pm, 09/11/2014

    Playing 2632 consecutive games is an “overrated” record? Really?
    Seriously? It would be amazing even to post comments on this site
    for 2632 consecutive days ffs.

  7. Clarence George 02:10pm, 09/11/2014

    Love the misdirection, Irish, as always.  I don’t think Mayweather-Pacquiao will ever happen…and I don’t much care if it does, not at this stage of the game.  And Mayweather will never fight Golovkin.  I mean, he wouldn’t have a chance against the Kazakh, and bloody well knows it.

  8. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 01:37pm, 09/11/2014

    Clarence George-Now for some good old fashioned misdirection…just pinched this one on line…..Plot: Sled aficionado dies and all the non-sled-related events of his life are related. Movie ?.....way too easy….how about this one which is a little harder….Plot: Captain seduces nun. Movie? As far as Floyd is concerned I am very much unconcerned….he won’t get any of my money until he fights Manny or if he grows a pair and fights GGG….if then…. I will be watching Molina/Soto go to war that night.

  9. Clarence George 07:51am, 09/11/2014

    Excellent post, Eric.  Marciano’s one of my favorites, and that 0 of his is nothing to sneeze at, but there several boxers whose records are much more impressive, despite losses.

    I’m no expert on baseball, but Aaron never came anywhere near to attaining Ruth’s iconic status—too many character flaws and personality defects.  Also, pretty much everyone recognizes that Ruth was a much better player. 

    It’s a mistake to think that breaking a record is the same as replacing a legend.  Legends don’t get replaced…that’s why they’re legends.

  10. Eric 07:35am, 09/11/2014

    Always wondered why Marciano didn’t just make it a nice even 50-0. The Rock’s record of 49-0 with 43 coming by way of knockout is impressive, but IMO it pales to the records put forth by fighters like Freddie Steele, Sugar Ray Robinson, Julio Cesar Chavez, and a few others. True, these fighters didn’t retire undefeated but they retired with over 100 wins. Sugar Ray Robinson at one point had a 91 fight winning streak. At the time of the first Leonard-Duran bout, Duran was 72-1. Cal Ripken and Rocky Marciano are two of my favorite athletes. However, Ripken’s consecutive games played and Marciano’s 49-0 are two of the most overrated records in sports IMO. Great accomplishments but they don’t compare with Robinson’s 91-fight winning streak, or Dimaggio’s 56-game hitting streak for example. Concerning Aaron breaking the Bambino’s record, I don’t know the exact number of at bats Aaron took to break the record, but it was a helluva lot more than the Babe needed. I remember watching the game that Aaron broke the record, Downing grooved a batting practice pitch to Aaron. No doubt that Aaron received lots of hate mail, but Aaron was always sullen, aloof, and seemed to carry a chip on his shoulder even before chasing Ruth, and quite frankly has made a few racists comments in the past himself.  Willie Mays was a better all-around player, and so was Ruth, when you consider Ruth was a fine pitcher early in his career.

  11. Clarence George 07:28am, 09/11/2014

    A “woman boxer”?  Pfui!

  12. Mohummad Humza Elahi 06:43am, 09/11/2014

    Heroes in boxing’s modern age is really just a PR toy now; it’s about falling back to a familiar archetype when the marketing of a fight either hits saturation or fails to ignite interest.  I think that after the London Olympics, Nicola Adams is probably the only boxer the kids look up to and I would say rightly so.

  13. Clarence George 04:34am, 09/11/2014

    Robyn:  Yeah, the draw mars the record, no matter how impressive it is otherwise.

    You raise a good point.  What Mayweather cares most about, besides money, is preserving that 0.  My guess is that he’s reasonably confident about doing so finishing out 2015, but much less so going into 2016.  In short, he’ll probably stop at 49.  Marciano thought of trying to make it 50-0, but decided against it, not wanting to risk winding up with 49-1.

  14. robyn bunting 04:16am, 09/11/2014

    I remember-Ricardo Lopez, though he had a draw.ópez_(boxer)

  15. robyn bunting 04:04am, 09/11/2014

    Its interesting, but Mayweather seems to show no interest in surpassing Marciano’s record and does not seem to admit that matching it holds any specific significance for him. Has no-one asked him about how Marciano and how he feels about his comparative place in boxing history? Thats the first question I would ask him.

    Btw, wasn’t there another fighter who retired as undisputed champion on 52-0?  I am sure i read about this somewhere.

  16. Clarence George 03:04am, 09/11/2014

    True enough, Matt, but my reference to crowds is more metaphorical than literal.  There was a time when boxing was more popular than baseball; when Dempsey was a bigger sports hero than Ruth.  Young boys would go running after Dempsey (also true in Marciano’s day), crying out, “Champ!  Champ!”  Has that ever happened to Klitschko?  How many young boys even know, or care, who the hell Klitschko is?

    Very few people will give a damn if Mayweather does to Marciano what Aaron did to Ruth.  This is partly because boxing is hopelessly marginalized, and also because it’s welterweight vs. heavyweight—in a very real sense, Mayweather can’t beat Marciano’s record.  But the main reason is that our concept of heroism has undergone a complete collapse, especially when it comes to sports.  Boxing, in particular, is a devastated vineyard (to borrow from Dietrich von Hildebrand)—no more heroes, no more marvelous moments.

  17. Matt McGrain 11:56pm, 09/10/2014

    Maybe not in the US, but we had 30k watching Ruslan Chagaev lift a bauble a few months ago, Wladimir always boxes in front of a thousands-strong crowd, and Groves-Froch had tens of thousands more than Chagaev.
    For the right fight or fighter over here you get massive attendances.

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