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New Look at Junior Welter

BY Rick Folstad ON June 27, 2005
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It wasn’t a prizefight as much as it was a chop-shop dismantling of a local idol, an ugly, methodical beating handed out by a guy who backed up his mouth after boldly claiming the opposition didn’t belong in the same ring with him, much less the same sentence.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. might not make your wedding list, but you better jot him down at the top of your best pound-for-pound fighter list. You can squeeze him in alongside Bernard Hopkins if you‘re partial to the Hopkins style of winning without fanfare. But better yet, if you don’t like ties and compromise, move Hopkins down a step and crown Mayweather as king of the pound-for-pounders.

Because with his one-sided win over Arturo Gatti on Saturday night, Mayweather did more than win Gatti’s WBC title; he made an announcement with his domination that the 140-pound division is his to do what he wishes.

A lot of fight fans are going to disagree with that assessment, most of them living in or around Manchester, England, where IBF champion Ricky Hatton is hero and is second only to a rousing afternoon of soccer. But over the next few years, it’s hard to see Mayweather finishing second to anything other than the Las Vegas District Court prosecutors.

His toughest fights seem to take place in courtrooms.

As for the junior welterweight division, it’s been a wild, bloody month of upsets, surprising mismatches and the loss of some of its top names and moneymakers. If the division could talk, it would probably ask to be put on injured reserve.

First, Hatton turned everything upside down when he beat former pound-for-pound club member Kostya Tszyu back on June 4 for the IBF title, the favored Tszyu failing to leave his stool for the start of the 12th round.

Then WBO champ Miguel Cotto put in a good word for himself at 140 pounds when he beat a tough Muhammad Abdullaev on June 11 at Madison Square Garden.

Who thought the division’s stability rested in the WBO?

Then Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, before the “Pretty Boy” one-man extravaganza was unleashed, WBC champ Vivian Harris, hoping to fight the Gatti-Mayweather winner, slipped on his way to the top.

His seventh-round loss to unheralded Carlos Maussa of Colombia on Saturday night pretty much slammed the door shut on any hopes he had for a big-money title fight against Pretty Boy.

And finally, a little later, Mayweather shows up and thumps Gatti. Now he's ready for Hatton.

And so are we.

Heading into July, the junior welterweight class now has three new champions out of the four. The class is now led by Mayweather (WBC), Hatton (IBF), Maussa (WBA) and - the only leftover from May - Cotto (WBO).

It’s a new look.

You might want to get used to it.

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