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Is Mayweather greatest? At least he believes it

LAS VEGAS - In the many ramblings of Floyd Mayweather Jr., the term "greatest of all time" comes up often.

And it's usually Mayweather making that proclamation. With his spotless record (40-0, 25 KOs), his charisma and style, he is very convincing and has gained a lot of support over the last half-decade.

"I got respect for Sugar Ray Robinson. I've got respect for Muhammad Ali. But I'm a man just like they're men," Mayweather said during a recent conference call. "What makes them any better than I am?"

Mayweather went even further than that during the interview.

"Muhammad Ali is one hell of a fighter. But Floyd Mayweather is the best. Sugar Ray Robinson is one hell of a fighter, but Floyd Mayweather is the best," he said.

A victory over Shane Mosley - the two met in a 12-round welterweight bout at the MGM Grand last night - certainly would help his cause. But even with a win over Mosley, there are some who aren't ready to give the crown to Mayweather.

Boxing historian Bert Sugar said Mayweather still has some work to do.

"I tend not to gauge a fighter totally until his career is over or coming to an end," Sugar said. "I don't know if he's at his peak now, if he's past his peak or if he's climbing to his peak."

Another issue that seems to follow Mayweather is the quality of his opponents. His victories over Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Jose Luis Castillo (twice), Zab Judah and Diego Corrales were impressive, but Sugar questions how many of those fighters are hall-of-fame caliber.

"One of my criteria of all of them is meeting and beating other greats," Sugar said. "I look at the resume of Floyd and half those names aren't even names in their own households. Who are they? What greats has he beaten? Maybe Oscar would be the closest."

Even his trainer and uncle, Roger Mayweather, who fought Julio Cesar Chavez twice and Pernell Whitaker, stopped short of calling him the greatest, saying his nephew is the greatest of "this era".

Two of boxing's all-time greats Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns chimed in on the discussion. Neither fighter had a problem with Mayweather's boasting.

"The confidence thing is fine with me," said Hearns, a six-time world champion. "It is good for him to have a great deal of confidence."

Leonard is in agreement.

"It's important for Mayweather to make that statement, because fighters have to believe they are bigger and better than anyone," Leonard said.

Hearns' statement notwithstanding, he wasn't ready to concede when asked if Mayweather could've beaten him or Leonard.

"I think that Floyd would have been too small for us. We were big welterweights," Hearns said. "Floyd is a small guy. I am not saying because he is small he wouldn't be able to do it, but it would have been very difficult."

New York Sports