When Muhammad Ali was heavyweight champ, there was no top contender he wouldn’t fight. In fact, Ali probably has the deepest resume of any heavyweight champion in history.
His greatest rival, of course, was Joe Frazier, a champion in his own right. Their trilogy is the most famous in boxing history, and two of their bouts are among the most legendary.
Just imagine, though, for a minute if they had never fought -- if Ali, for whatever reason, decided that it was just too hard of a deal to make, that he didn’t like Frazier’s promoter or that he simply didn’t want to make the fight.
How would history have remembered Ali for that? It wouldn’t have been good. Oh, Ali would still be remembered as an all-time great, would still be a Hall of Famer and still would have had many other big wins to look at, but there would be a giant gaping hole in his legacy.
We are in that same position now with Floyd Mayweather Jr., the best fighter of his time, if he never faces Manny Pacquiao.
Yes, I know the issues. I’ve been covering the stupid soap opera since day one. There are no obvious opponents for either man except for each other and there are no legitimate issues that should prevent the fight from happening except for stubbornness or greed, mainly on Mayweather’s side at this point. (Both sides have been more to blame at various times, but right now it’s on Mayweather.)
Following Mayweather’s close, rousing majority decision win against Marcos Maidana on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, no less an authority than Ali himself spoke up.
Ali took to his official Twitter feed (@MuhammadAli) and wrote, “Congratulations @FloydMayweather. Maybe after you rest up we can see you rumble with @MannyPacquiao! #AliTweet”
Ali, better than anyone, knows that fighting the rival the public most wants to see is important to a boxer’s legacy. Ali fought Frazier three times. He, and everyone else knows, that it’s time for Mayweather to fight Pacquiao, at least once.