24.05.04 – By Paul Ruby – firstname.lastname@example.org – Make no mistake about it: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. looked good in beating DeMarcus Corley in Atlantic City last Saturday evening. Mayweather received credit for a pair of knockdowns and won by at least 10 points on every judge’s scorecard. In the wake of Roy Jones’ recent defeat, this fight presented Mayweather with an opportunity to stake his claim as the mythical pound-for-pound champion of boxing. Personally, I do not believe he did this. He has the skills and talent inside the ring to reach that point eventually, but he just cannot compete with Bernard Hopkins’ decade-long unbeaten streak and reign atop the middleweight division.
Still, this fight revealed a good deal about Mayweather and his future at 140 pounds. Mayweather showed his trademark speed and footwork. He also showed an ability to create a sound attack plan and systematically chop down a game opponent and a physically larger man. Mayweather consistently went to the body against Corley, particularly early in the fight. The drawback to this was that Mayweather got into too many exchanges with his foe in rounds one through four, but usually managed to get the better of them. I think the reasoning behind this is that Floyd wants to become a more exciting fighter in hopes of making more money in the ring. He needs to realize that he simply never will make Oscar de la Hoya money for a number of reasons that include lacking Oscar’s publicity, charisma, and past successes. Personally, I was a little disappointed by Floyd’s decision to trade punches with Corley early in the fight. In his corner, though, Roger Mayweather ordered him to return to boxing and minimize the potentially troublesome exchanges. Eventually, Floyd did this.
In the second half of the fight, Floyd consistently landed a right-hand lead against the southpaw Corley, often throwing after dipping his left shoulder to make it appear as though he was going to throw that hand. Mayweather dominated an 8th round in which he landed 33 of 54 punches and scored the bout’s first knockdown. The 10th round saw Mayweather again putting Corley on the canvas, this time with a left hand. In the second half of the fight, Mayweather shortened his punches considerably and he dominated his tiring opponent. Personally, I scored the bout 119-108, like one of the judges. I gave Corley round three and scored round 6 even. Mayweather got 10-8 rounds in the 8th and 10th and appeared on his way to another knockdown as the bout drew to a close.
All three judges, not surprisingly, scored the bout for Mayweather by counts of 119-107, 118-108, and 119-108. HBO’s Harold Lederman had Mayweather pitching a shutout which is debatable, but certainly legitimate. I thought the most telling statistic of the evening was Mayweather’s ability to land power shots. He landed at an amazing 53% clip by scoring with 230 of 431, while holding Corley to 27% at 110 of 417. I thought Round 4 was the most competitive one of the fight, but still falls considerably behind Round 3 of Klitschko/Sanders for round-of-the-year to date. Corley earned approximately $150,000 for the fight while Mayweather’s contract paid him almost $3 million.
Basically, Mayweather looked dominant against a fringe top-10 junior welterweight, but clearly he is far from a perfect fighter and he could be beaten at that weight. He showed a good chin against Corley and was only truly hurt two or three times. He was never in trouble, but this is as much a credit to his defense as his chin. Mayweather’s punching power was never dynamite and that did not change. His punching power is more closely akin to that of a Roy Jones or Zab Judah in that his knockdowns and knockouts generally come as a result of the speed that allows him to land shots flush that few others can land; they do not come from Mike Tyson-esque power.
Floyd will not be dominant at 140 like he was at a lower weight. His brittle hands will always be a challenge for him although they appeared to have held up pretty well recently. Right now, he probably belongs at about #3 in the junior welterweight rankings behind Sharmba Mitchell and Kostya Tszyu. A match-up of Mayweather against either of those men would be a tough task for him indeed. At this point in time, it appears that Mayweather wants Gatti if Gatti gets by Leonard Dorin. Gatti will always be a fan favorite, but I feel that there’s too much blind loyalty given to him for his great bouts with Micky Ward. Watching his fight with Italian Gianluca Branco, Gatti simply got hit with too many right hands from a relatively slow fighter. Gatti’s reflexes are diminished from too many wars in the ring. He’s a great guy and a good fighter, but Floyd Mayweather would make him look very bad, and quite possibly even stop him. Gatti/Dorin is a tough fight to pick. Dorin has little power, even at lightweight, and Gatti has a pronounced reach advantage. I think Gatti probably wins a decision that will look like his win over Branco.
At this point in time, I’d probably make my top 10 at junior welterweights look something like this:
Champion: Kostya Tszyu (let’s hope he’s back in action soon)
1. Sharmba Mitchell
2. Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
3. Vivian Harris
4. Ricky Hatton
5. Miguel Cotto
6. Arturo Gatti
7. Paul Spadafora
8. Leonard Dorin
9. Lovemore N’Dou
10. Oktay Urkal
Now, that’s by no means a definitive list. If anything, it shows a number of very interesting potential storylines for big fights in this division. First, there is a clear rift between old and young. Tszyu and Mitchell will eventually lose or retire. Who will be the first to supplant one of them? Will it be Mayweather? Harris? Hatton? Cotto? Also, most of the fighters on the list are quite clearly either boxers or punchers, and that translates into intriguing stylistic match-ups. Personally, I want to see if Harris could land his big right hand on Floyd Mayweather. I want to see if Cotto keeps his usual composure after he can’t find Sharmba Mitchell for a few rounds. I want to see Hatton and Gatti in what could be the bloodbath of the century. I realize the last two of those are quite unlikely due to age constraints and network rivalries. Still, the point is that the landscape of this division has two men clearly ahead of the pack and a number of hungry fighters chasing them, which should provide for a number of interesting and meaningful fights over the next 12 to 18 months. It remains to be seen if Floyd Mayweather, Jr. will conquer his third weight class, but one thing is for sure – It will be fun to watch him try.
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