I was browsing through my newsfeed today, as I always do, to find that Thailand’s 105-pound alphabet strap-holding Wanheng Menayothin is closing on Floyd Mayweather and Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record (here and here). Unfortunately for these news outlets that oftentimes confine themselves to current on-goings, historical slipups can be a nuisance.
The records of these two men belong in different categorizations, separate from what Menayothin can obtain. So let us not ignore the nuance. Marciano’s record is solely that of the division in which he participated—the heavyweight class. Mayweather, when he was active, could neither match or surpass this mark because the bar had already been set higher—at least on a win/loss basis is concerned—by two other men, Ricardo Lopez and Jimmy Barry.
As is fairly well known, though obviously not enough, is that the former Mexican standout, “Finito”, finished his career at the 51-0-1 mark. That, by simple math standards, means he obtained two more victories in his career than did Marciano and Mayweather.
In the words of the late television personality, Ron Popeil, “But wait, there’s more!” When members of the media conflate Marciano’s and Mayweather’s victory total, they are insinuating that the “record” is in a pound-for-pound sense. Since we have already pushed the standard higher, to a nice 51-0, we must encompass all fighters from all generations. That brings in the aforementioned Jimmy Barry.
Jimmy Barry was an all-time great flyweight and bantamweight who overcame the best of his day. Joe Choynski, the hard-punching San Franciscan who turned Jack Johnson’s lights out in three, considered Barry the greatest fighter he ever saw and stated that “He had everything: speed, science, stamina, ring generalship, courage and uncanny punching power. There were many great bantams in that day, but Barry outclassed them all.”
Loaded words from a man who fought in a loaded era with loaded gloves.
But what was his final tally, which clearly registers in this discussion. It was 61-0-10, counting two newspaper decisions (59-0 in official contests). That raises the mark significantly higher and one that looks all but unattainable by any modern fighter.
Why then is this record ignored? It’s a combination of ignorance from those who are unaware of Lopez and Barry’s marks, and those who don’t find the race appealing. Think about it, “The Chase to Marciano” has broader appeal than “The Chase for Jimmy Barry,” a man few outside Mark T. Dunn and the most hardcore are familiar with.
None of it changes the fact, however. Jimmy Barry is the rightful owner. He finished his career with the highest wins without any losses, draws be damned. They aren’t defeats, and that’s all we are really going for.
Regarding Wanheng Menayothin, he can have his run, but it won’t be at Marciano or Mayweather, it will be at Ricardo Lopez. Lopez competed in the same division.
The media needs to acknowledge these categorical problems and put brakes on the hyperbole they so quickly perpetuate.