Can Anyone Beat Floyd Mayweather Jr.? - Part II (Cotto, Hatton, Tszyu)
Part II by Chris Ackerman (October 16, 2005) Part I 
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Athletic phenomenons come along every so often and during their reign at the peak of their sport, they seem untouchable. Such is particularly true of the sweet science, the main difference being the path of decline. Great fighters seldom burn out slowly but are rather vanquished first by deterioration of physical prowess and then by a foe looking to take over the throne.

When a true superstar with elite skills, incredible gifts and absolute dedication emerges and cements himself on the scene, the question for promoters, odds-makers and fans is whether they can be beat, or at least which opponent would put up the best fight. Floyd Mayweather Junior is such an athlete who has elevated himself far above any of his contemporaries in the ring. Ranked number one pound for pound on any credible list, he is so superior to every other currently active fighter that slots two and three ought to remain empty. The question then is, can anyone beat him?

Before we embark on this discussion in any detail, a few ground rules should be laid out. Analysis will be of realistic opponents Floyd might actually face. A match-up with Samuel Peter is never going to happen. There were serious talks of a fight with Ronald “Winky” Wright and therefore, he will be used to determine the upper limit in weight class of potential opponents for Mayweather. In his last outing, Wright fought at 160 lbs. and has signed on for another middleweight contest later this year. Still, Wright is more suited to junior middleweight and there would likely have been some variety of catch weight agreement had the fight with Floyd been made. Only fighters south of middleweight will be considered; that is 154 and below, inclusive.

In addition, this is a discussion of fights that could realistically happen, and therefore only currently active fighters will be considered. The answer to how Floyd would have fared against a prime Roberto Duran or Pernell Whitaker will never be answered and is one for another forum. Our amended question is this: Can any currently active fighter from 140 to 154 inclusive, beat Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
The Candidates---140 lbs

Miguel Cotto-

Here is a fight that is definitely brewing, although no one in the Cotto camp is foolish enough to look for it anytime soon. They know, as do most analysts, that Cotto has a lot of things to work on before he is ready for the likes of Floyd Mayweather. Miguel is a very good fighter; he has top flight skills, a ton of heart, decent hand and foot speed and a nice jab. He also is possessed of one of the most underrated weapons especially against speed demons: a wicked left hook downstairs. In this case, the superlatives can be heaped on…devastating, precision, relentless, thunderous…when Miguel Cotto goes to the body he beats guys easily. When he gets in trouble, the basement is the escape route. Every time.

But that’s just it…he gets in trouble. There have been questions raised about Cotto’s chin and while this is a little premature the fact is that against lesser fighters he has had strategic blunders nearly wind up costing him big. Each time he has shown the maturity and stones to gut it out and win by knockout, but this would not work against Floyd. Mayweather would get Cotto hurt and then rip him apart like a buzz saw. He’s too fast to get clutched and way too smart to give an injured opponent the opening. If they met tomorrow it would be an ugly blowout but three more Cotto fights and one division up and who knows?

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Ricky Hatton-

Hatton presents an interesting stylistic match-up and is considered a major player at 140 almost exclusively on the strength of taking out King Kostya in June of this year. Prior to that fight, Hatton had already amassed a staggering undefeated record but it was the beat down of Tszyu that launched him into P4P consideration. Distance from the North American market has quieted the cheering section somewhat, as has the upcoming fight against little known and virtually unheralded Carlos Maussa. Maussa did grind out a win against Vivian Harris in his last outing but more as a result of Harris punching himself out than anything else. Regardless, with the huge upset win over Kostya Tszyu, Hatton has positioned himself at the guy to beat at junior welter.

Floyd Mayweather knows this but also knows there are bigger paychecks elsewhere. However, time is on Floyd’s side and should he decide to try clean up the division he will have to tangle with Britain’s favorite son at some point.

Hatton throws a lot of punches and has fairly fast hands. No one has better hand speed than Floyd, however. He also throws faster, better, crisper and more accurate combinations…even while moving. Hatton moves pretty well and can do a good job of cutting off the ring as he comes forward and presses the body attack. He has also demonstrated that he will not run out of gas in spite of the aggression and volume of shots he dishes. Again however, no one is more superbly conditioned than Mayweather and he would not be worn out especially through the seven or eight rounds this one would go. Hatton is a vicious body hunter, and an all around skilled, relentless type fighter but he has neither the tools nor chin to deal with all that Floyd brings to the fight, especially his foot speed. The body attack is potentially a good weapon against Mayweather but Hatton would be swinging at air and paying dearly with each big miss. This one would be a clinic and another showcase for Pretty Boy’s superiority.

Kostya Tszyu-

Kostya is an unusual fighter to watch. He looks slow, he looks mechanical and he looks small. All three elements are deceiving. He is in fact, methodical rather than slow and plodding. He patiently walks his man down and makes the shots he does throw count. He is deliberate rather than mechanical, and seems to be thinking a couple moves ahead and just proceeding to execute the game plan. He is compact rather than small and within the modest frame lurks huge power as indicated by his remarkable 25 knockouts in 31 wins. He was beaten convincingly by Hatton, and in fact quit on his stool but followers of Tszyu will say he didn’t look like himself. He looked paunchy, out of shape and not ready. Excuses, excuses? Maybe, but it is undeniable that he has been plagued by injury and didn’t seem to have the usual pop.

How a showdown with Mayweather would play out is an interesting consideration, especially if one takes a minute to watch the Tszyu-Judah fight from 2001. It is a showcase of the way in which Kostya’s opponents get deceived by his apparent handicaps in terms of speed and skill. Judah was clearly the faster guy and his movement looked like it would frustrate his opponent all night…until he got tagged. The punch that did him in didn’t look like much either; such is the strength of Tszyu. He did exactly what he had planned to do which was follow Zab around and land those heavy hands whenever he cut the ring off enough to do so. That rhythm and pressure style worked perfectly, but Floyd’s speed and skill are far superior to Zab Judah such that they are not even in the same stratosphere. More importantly however, is the Mayweather defense. Kostya’s hand speed might be faster than people think but it is not quick enough to penetrate on Pretty Boy, and in particular his big head shots would find nothing but shoulder each time. Pop pop pop slide. That would be the rhythm tapped out by Floyd Junior for as long as this one lasted.

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