Recently at a Hall of Fame gathering boxing’s premier Picasso sauntered up to the iconic Ray Charles Leonard with a bold proclamation. “If you were fighting today I’d beat you too,” exclaimed the brash Floyd Mayweather Jr. Sugar Ray, legendary for his ability to sense threat and adjust on the fly, retorted, “First you would have to fight at my weight to be able to say that”.
Fast-forward to what transpired in Atlantic City this past Saturday night and now ponder the likelihood of Ray Leonard’s verbal challenge. At fight time, boxing’s ‘Pretty Boy’ entered the ring an obvious favorite possessing the games most scintillating skill set and the pugilistic equilivalent to a Pentium 4 hard drive. As the fight progressed what we ‘knew’ (a certain Mayweather victory) soon gave way to what we had no idea of imagining the ‘little guy’ was not so little after all. Floyd Mayweather, a legendary worker in the gym, showcased a muscular filled out physique and looked physically stronger than the infamously hydrated Jersey tough guy.
From round one the ‘Notorious PBF’ stationed himself within range of Gatti and sat down on his blistering arsenal, intent on letting us all know that we should no longer call him ‘Lil Floyd’. We all knew Mayweather’s talent would overwhelm Gatti but it was his pop that put one of the sport’s most relentless stalkers in neutral. It was a sight to behold, technical proficiency rarely balanced so well with evil intent but Floyd Mayweather made it look natural last Saturday night. In six brutally perfect rounds Mayweather left nothing of what we all assumed to be boxing’s ‘deepest’ division. Like ‘big mamma’ cooling off in a kiddy pool, the nimble narcissist hallowed out the division making it extremely daunting to sell a realistic challenge to his preeminence.
There’s nothing left at 140 for Mayweather and the events of last Saturday night confirmed this theory for me. Vivian Harris, supposedly Mayweather’s ‘Tarver’, ranted and raved and pretty much hyperventilated his way into a knockout at the hands of Carlos Maussa. Floyd has no time for rebuilding projects; he’s in his prime. One down. Ricky Hatton sat at ringside, still aglow from his dispatching of Kostya Tszyu, and expressed awe at how easily Floyd did away with Gatti. Although Floyd wants Ricky at Madison Square Garden, look for Ricky to milk his belt in the comfort of the MEN Arena. Besides, boxing fans will forgive Hatton for taking a soft touch and then moving on to boxing’s new blood and guts warrior Chico Corrales. Ricky even has the choice of taking on backyard rival Junior Witter to further cement his stranglehold on the hearts of jolly England. Floyd has no time for Hatton’s agenda; he’s in his prime. Two down.
Miguel Cotto also sat ringside looking like a middleweight and he had to be thinking at this early stage “I don’t want any part of that action”. Top Rank concurs. Cotto is Bob Arum’s link to the future, and his relationship with the self proclaimed ‘Flamboyant One’ is contentious at best. Do any of us believe Arum would risk Floyd ruining his cash cow on his way to free agency? Would any of us buy a green, stylistic schizophrenic as a possible threat to boxing’s version of advanced Trigonometry? Look for Arum to nurse Cotto to millions and try to catch Floyd at welterweight in his 30’s. Three down. Now is the time to load up on the carbs.
In boxing, there are four stages of fistic glamour lightweight, welterweight, middleweight and of course the heavyweights. In order for the CEO of Philthy Rich Records to get filthy rich, welterweight is the next logical step. The home of Robinson, Leonard and De La Hoya, it is at 147 that a lot of boxing’s legends have captured our imagination. Then there’s the truth that size matters; Mayweather’s Jersey mugging last Saturday did not strike any fear in the men who reside one division above him, only possibility.
Being widely recognized as ‘unbeatable’ has its perks; now Floyd presents himself as a Hall of Fame ‘chip’ for the likes of De La Hoya and Mosley. Oscar De La Hoya, who once scoffed at the thought of fighting Floyd, is now mentioning a retiree, a damaged commodity and a guy we all know is too big for him. Beating the ‘unbeatable’ at the tail end of a career that last saw him beating the canvas in pain would be divine closure for boxings Golden Boy. Oscar should seriously consider paying for family counseling for Floyd Sr. and son, writing the old man a severance check and exploring the feasibility of a spring 2006 bout.
Shane Mosley, recently the target of verbal jabs from the ‘pretty boy’ would be a very live dog if the two met. No stranger to ill-advised challenges, Mosley would match up very well with Floyd due to his size, body punching and the remnants of once Mayweather like speed. Like his good buddy Oscar, Shane should consider the wisdom of one last ‘super fight’ with a smaller man. If it’s good enough for Bernard Hopkins it should be good enough for Oscar and Shane.
And last but not least there’s welterweight kingpin Zab Judah. It has long been common knowledge that the two buddies would definitely fight for the right price. Don King and Judah have already made it public that they want a crack at the wall of invincibility. Zab can crack at 147, he’s learned how to slow down and use intelligent pressure to let his hands go. A fight with Mayweather would be the most explosive match of speed and athletic prowess boxing fans have ever seen. Isaiah Thomas and Magic Johnson were the best of friends, remember what happened to them? Mayweather and Judah will say all of the right things but make no mistake, boxing ain’t basketball.
Hopefully Floyd can be decisive in this move up and take advantage of his prime on the welterweight stage. Sugar Ray Leonard will be watching with keen interest, intrigued by the possibility of finally competing in an evenly matched competitive debate.
Kudos to Gatti
Gatti is a Legend, because there are so many different hues of the color. He won’t be forgotten due to the level of gallantry and drama he shared with us. Buddy McGirt’s stoppage of the fight was the act of a professional and a friend. Lets just hope Gatti’s ‘debut’ at welterweight will be a winnable fight en route to retirement. He deserves good health and leisure; may his image grace the walls of every New Jersey neighborhood bar right next to Mr. Sinatra.
4 Round Mike
I’m not a pile on artist, nor do I believe Mike was a ‘cancer’ to the sport. Actually, Mike Tyson’s interest in fighting his equally faded counterparts in 4 round bouts is the most realistic proposition for him right now. Hopefully Mike, Evander and Riddick are realistic when it comes to pricing such an exhibition. As a boxing junkie I’d shell out $20 (with an undercard of at least Pernell Whitaker and Junior Jones) and not a penny more.
I was at the Target Center when Matt Vanda ‘beat’ Yori Boy Campas. I was also at the Convention Center (Minneapolis) when Vanda ‘beat’ Sam Garr in January 2004. Vanda, the recipient of two ‘hometown’ decisions is under the impression he deserves a match (and a payday) with superstar Fernando Vargas. I also witnessed a near fight break out due to racist remarks (towards a Mexican) from a so-called fight fan. I am under the impression that Minnesota is sorely in need of a boxing commission and an upper tier fighter to support. Vargas in 4.
Until The Next ‘Jones’
The Boxing Junkie.
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