Mason “The Line” Dixon and Floyd “Money” Mayweather have a lot in common. The former, an antagonist and contemporary champion boxer in the sixth part of the famous Rocky series (Rocky Balboa), is played by real-life ex-light heavyweight champion Antonia “Magic Man” Tarver. Although Dixon was a heavyweight undefeated champion in the film, he was arrogant, money-minded, and unchallenged by his contemporaries. He was surrounded by money men, lived in a mansion with sparkly cars, and carried himself with a swagger that came after years of knowing he was better than the rest. Perhaps it was a low time for boxing in general that made him the Champion at a time of less competition, but his team was in denial. Of course, his exhibition bout with old man Balboa is stuff of cinematic fantasy, because Balboa represented the ‘People’s Champ’, much like Manny Pacquiao, and made Dixon see stars in the ring for the first time.
Manny didn’t really challenge Mayweather to that extent, but he was definitely asking some questions in the early rounds when Mayweather was still feeling himself into the rhythm and movement around the ring.
Dixon and Mayweather represent iconic boxing figures of this generation—in a way, they’re to the current state of boxing what Hewitt was to the dark era of tennis during the demise of Sampras and Agassi. Their greatness is amplified by the draught of the era they played in, making them seem larger and better than even the ex-legends because of the domination they currently enjoy. But even Mayweather must know that despite his flawless 48-0 record, he isn’t a path on the greats Ali, Frasier or even Tyson—because it was the losses, the defeats and their inevitable rise from the ashes that made them the legends they were. People got a glimpse into their psyche when they lost, because they became humans just like any of us. They became underdogs for a bit, and then demonstrated resolve and an ability to turn their darkest moments into a success story. Mayweather hasn’t failed, and he probably will end his career without a loss to his name. Most unbeaten champions become more endearing towards the end of their careers when they are vulnerable to age, when losses begin to stack up, and when they’re fighting evolution to grasp onto those last moments of greatness. Federer has been facing it, and he has become even more loved than he was (if that’s possible), and even Schumacher went through it in 2005 and 2006, when Fernando Alonso began to dominate F1. They went out on a losing note, these champions, which only reiterated that they weren’t machines, but emotional and fragile human beings.
Mayweather is far from a machine, and has at times shown what a cunning, calculating and defensive fighter he is. He thinks like a machine, but doesn’t fight like one. Data is fed into his system, and he calculates the best possible way to avoid defeat first, followed by how he can technically squeeze out a decision from the judges. He has never dominated, but yet he has. His boxing brain is perhaps the most unique and strategic, teaching him to weave and duck as a natural defense mechanism. Attack is resorted to only when he is absolutely sure that his opponent is inferior and without a plan.Dixon was probably a cinematic reflection of Mayweather—who was already taking the boxing world by storm in 2006. He has been undefeated since 1996, but it is Manny and Rocky that the people—especially the boxing neutral—will remember. Because they lost. Because they were almost the greatest, and fell short.