Fight Preview: Floyd Mayweather vs Sharmba Mitchell

19.11.05 - By Gabriel DeCrease: Floyd Mayweather has done little to silence his detractors by signing to fight Sharmba Mitchell in what will be his third and final fight of the year. This bout has been plagued by a lack of public interest and media attention since before the ink dried on the contracts. But it is not hard to hazard a guess as to why an internationally televised fight showcasing the ultra-talented Pretty Boy Floyd has been hobbling on its way: Mayweather is widely-thought to be the best fighter in boxing, but many holdouts maintain that he still has a lot to prove, and this fight, even if he obliterates Sharmba, does not seem to offer much in the way of definitive proof of pugilistic pre-eminence.

Sharmba, The Little Big Man, as he is known, is in the twilight of a long and punishing career that began in 1988. He has rumbled long and hard with an impressive roster of tough fighters that includes Ben Tackie, Vince Philips, puncher-destroyer Kostya Tszyu (twice), Lovemore N’Dou, Leavander Johnson, and the hard-as-nails Stevie Johnston.

Whether he won or lost Mitchell has always been the kind of fighter that takes his share of leather in a fight. He is now 35-years-old, and has the look of a tired workhorse ready to be put out to pasture. Sharmba unenthusiastically pulled-out a technical decision against a mediocre Chris Smith in his last time out, which was his first time out since being wrecked by Kostya Tszyu nearly a year ago.

At the first press-conference for the fight between Mayweather and Mitchell, Floyd spewed a very long line of rhetoric about who has been ducking him and why they have been ducking him. He called out a long list of top fighters in the junior welterweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight divisions. All the while, Sharmba Mitchell sat by with a fairly severe-looking knot under his eye—a supposed training injury—not really seeming very sincere in his attempts to pretend that he has any shot at beating Mayweather. The public seemed to tune out after that. A general sense of sympathy rose in the boxing community for the apparently just-happy-to-be there, black-and-blue Mitchell, and a greater sense swelled that Mayweather is wasting his (and everyone else’s) precious time with this fight. In a feeble effort to counteract stir the pot, Mitchell talked some trash and made some idle threats from his training camp, but his efforts were most truly a day late, and a dollar short. In his day, Mitchell held the IBF and WBA light welterweight straps. But, barring some miracle, he is now reduced to patsy-status, and faces a fight in which he will play whipping post to a smug and petulant Floyd Mayweather who wants his respect, but is doing little with this fight to earn it.

Mayweather has been placed at or around the very top of the pound-for-pound rankings since his pair of wins over Mexican warrior Jose-Luis Castillo. But, sadly, he has done less since that time to merit the status than he did to earn it in the first place. Since his second, and decidedly more convincing, win over El Terrible he has fought Philip N’Dou, Demarcus Corley, Herny Brussles, and, most recently, Arturo Gatti. Those, it seems, are not the fights that a fighter who proclaims himself one of the greatest-of-all-time should be making—especially when he continues to call-out everyone with a title and then some.

It is hard to say what Mitchell could do to try to pull out a win in this fight. His hand speed and reflexes are clearly fading. His legs looked to be made of molasses and his feet of concrete in his last fight, and since it only lasted five rounds, there is no telling how spent Mitchell would have looked by the final rounds, if it went that far. But all that is to be expected after sixty hard-fought appearances in the prize ring. It seems that Sharmba lacks the tools to get anything done against the faster, fresher, more accurate, and generally more athletically gifted Mayweather. He’s outclassed and, in the end, his only shot may be to land a Hail Mary bomb Mayweather’s chin. After all, Floyd was wobbled by a hook from the soft-hitting Demarcus Corely.

All the Pretty Boy has to do is boxing cleverly and deftly and stay focused enough to make certain that Mitchell never traps him on the ropes, or in a corner, long enough to pull off a desperate barrage. Floyd has the legs to go the distance, and the relative power to put down an aching workhorse, so it will likely be at Mayweather’s discretion when and how he beats The Little Big Man. Common sense dictates that even if Mayweather tries to carry him Mitchell will be looking for a reason to find the bottom of a ten count by the middle of the fight.

All in all, it is hard to get excited about a fight that is so haunted by predictability and a lack of competitive matchmaking—especially when so many real tests await Floyd Mayweather. Boxing pundits and fans are constantly jawing over possible showdowns between Floys and 140-pound king Ricky Hatton, welterweight champ Zab “Super” Zudah, tough-guy boxer-puncher Antonio Margarito, and the late-peaking technical-wonder Winky Wright. And instead of one of those high-profile matchups, the public is served up a lukewarm side-dish and the promise of several months of failed negotiations before another fight materializes.

Article posted on 19.11.2005

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