What If? Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Julian Jackson and Gerald McClellan

gerald mcclellan(Gerald McClellan, on left, facing off against knockout artist Julian Jackson in their first bout on May 8, 1993) 14.05.07 - By Miguel Velasco: While the world waits to find out who Floyd Mayweather Jr., boxing's pound for pound prince will be fighting next, I thought it would be interesting to speculate how Mayweather would have done against Julian Jackson (55-6, 49 KO's) and Gerald McClellan (31-3, 29 KO's) - two of the hardest punchers in middleweight/junior middleweight history. In light of the numerous comparisons being made between Mayweather and Sugar Ray Robinson, the fighter considered the greatest middleweight in boxing history, I thought this article would be appropriate to give us some historical persective. Could Mayweather, who appeared extremely reluctant to mix it up in his last two fights against Carlos Baldomir and Oscar De La Hoya, box well enough to keep knockout artists as destructive as Jackson and McCellan from catching up to him and planting him on the canvas?

Before I start, I realize that there are a legion of Mayweather fans that probably wouldn't consider this a fair fight comparison, saying that he isn't a true middleweight/junior middleweight and he shouldn't be compared to ones that are, especially with knockout artists like Jackson and McClellan.

To those people I say, if Mayweather is being compared - oftentimes favorably - with Sugar Ray Robinson, with even Mayweather himself saying that he is better than Robinson, then it shouldn't be a problem measuring his potential performance against either Jackson or McCellan, both of which have never been compared to the great Sugar Ray Robinson. After all, if Mayweather can't beat Jackson or McCellan, what business does he have being compared to Robinson?

For those who are unfamiliar with Julian Jackson and Gerald McCellan, they both fought in the middleweight/junior middleweight division during the late 80s and mid 90s, usually knocking out the vast majority of their opponents, often times spectacularly in Jackson's case with one-punch knockouts. Jackson has knockout victories over notable fighters Buster Drayton, Terry Norris - a fighter that would later on win titles in the welterweight and junior middleweight divisions - and Harold Graham, a defensive fighter with skills and speed on par with Mayweather. Jackson's chin, however, was his weakness, causing him to lose to powerful punchers like McCellan, who stopped Jackson twice although not without getting hit with a number of monstrous shots, in the first fight.

McCellan, on the other hand, also had tremendous power, albeit not quite on the level of Jackson's legendary power, but very dangerous nonetheless. Whereas Jackson would often take out his opponents with a single punch, McCellan would pounce on his opponents in the first couple of rounds and overwhelm them with a storm of power shots. Few fighters could stand up to this kind of attack once McCellan got going. During his short boxing career, McCellan has important victories over John Mugabi (Ko 1st round), and as previously mentioned, Julian Jackson. However, McClellan's career was tragically cut short when he stopped by Nigel Benn on February 25, 1995, a bout in which McCellan afterwards suffered a blood clot on the brain, making it necessary to have emergency surgery to save his life. Fortunately, he recovered, but his career was over.

With these facts behind us, let me briefly give a sketch of how the fights would take place, giving my best estimate of Mayweather's chances.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Julian Jackson: Perhaps more than anything, this would be almost a hopeless fight for Mayweather to win, mainly because of his lack of punching power at 154. He’d be the equivalent of a Terry Norris, if you were to take away Norris’ awesome offensive skills and handicap him further by making him rely mainly on counter punching and running. In fact, I’d give Mayweather even less of a chance than Norris exactly because his running would do nothing more than prolong the eventual outcome of the fight, namely Mayweather getting caught with a bomb while leaning back against the ropes. As the fight started, Jackson would immediately pursue quickly, closing the distance to get in range of Mayweather, who will likely be circling the ring at full speed. Like in his fight with Norris, who quickly resorted running after tasting several devastating blows in the first round, Jackson would catch up with Mayweather on occasion and land shots that would drop an elephant. Never one to lessen the power in his shots, Jackson would be putting every ounce of his energy into every punch. Taking a page from his fight plan against De La Hoya, Mayweather would foolishly go to the ropes, thinking that he could play rope a dope and take some of the concussive effects off Jackson’s blows. However, the move would turn out to be suicide, for Jackson would unleash a right hand that would connect with a wallop to the side of Mayweather’s head, making a loud crash, similar to glass breaking, causing Mayweather to fall face first to the canvas, where he would lay twitching, out cold.

Outcome: Jackson by 2nd round KO.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Gerald McClellan: This would be even tougher for Mayweather than the Jackson fight, in large part because of McCellan’s brutal kamikaze style attacks in the first round. I can see Mayweather, perhaps, adopting some kind of crouch defensive posture, similar to the one Rocky Marciano used on occasion, consisting of Mayweather crouching low to the canvas, with his head little more than a couple of feet of the ground to avoid being hit. It wouldn’t work, of course, but I can see Mayweather doing something desperate like this to avoid being starched. McClellan, for his part, being a great athlete that he is, he would quickly adapt to any style that Mayweather presented and unload non-stop punches, while Mayweather tried his best to cover up and deflect the blows. In this bout, Mayweather wouldn’t have a chance to use his normal punch and run style, normally effective against lesser fighters, because McClellan had incredibly fast feet and would run after his opponents when they tried fleeing tactics, and close of the escape route. More than any fighter I’ve ever seen, McCellan was exceptional at cutting off the ring against runners like Mayweather. Once McCellan had closed off Mayweather’s escape route, he would quickly pin him against the ropes and start unloading hail of power shots that Mayweather would have no hope blocking all. If you thought Mayweather got punched a lot against Castillo in their first fight, it would be nothing compared to the volume of shots he’d hit with by McCellan. The end would be quick, brutal and final, with Mayweather going down in a blur of punches within the first minute of the first round by McClellan.

Outcome: McClellan by 1st round KO.

Article posted on 15.05.2007

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