Floyd Mayweather may be the most talented fighter in boxing. His speed, reflexes and quickness have been known to turn competitive fights into runaways. In a career that started in 1996, “Pretty Boy” Floyd has dominated the best boxing has had to offer, earning Ring magazine's “Fighter of the Year” honors in 1998.
Since then, Mayweather has been quality in the ring, but lacking at the box office. That may be a result of his incredible talent: He's so good, his fights become predictable bores, and nobody bothers to buy a ticket. Things may change for Mayweather now that he is in the talent-packed junior welterweight division. He is campaigning against bigger, taller fighters these days, and that, coupled with a new aggressive style, may result in exciting battles and a stronger following. His May decison over DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley is an example: A yawner on paper, Mayweather-Corley turned out to be a decent scrap in which both men's reputations were enhanced.
Here are Mayweather's five most tantilizing opponents, and their odds at besting the man many consider the best fighter in boxing.
Arturo Gatti: A few years ago, this looked like a mismatch of ridiculous proportions. That was back when Mayweather was primarily a boxer and Gatti was getting nailed with everything thrown his direction. But with Mayweather's new flat-footed approach, and Gatti's reincarnation under trainer Buddy McGirt, Mayweather-Gatti is suddenly a prime boxer-puncher showdown. It's easy to envision several scenarios. You could see Floyd returning to his bicycle, and refusing to engage Gatti, cruising to an easy decision. You could see Mayweather cutting Gatti's face to shreds. Those are the two likliest outcomes. But Gatti isn't all face anymore. And, if he concenrates downstairs, and Mayweather decides to go mano-a-mano, a thriller could result. And, if that happens, an upset could result as well. Odds: Mayweather 3-1
Kostya Tszyu: Of course, a Mayweather-Tszyu showdown depends on whether the Australia-based Russian defeats Sharmba Mitchell next month – no easy task for the undisputed 140-pound king. But, assuming Tszyu wins, he would provide perhaps the most threatening challenge to Mayweather's unbeaten streak since “Pretty Boy” Floyd turned pro eight years ago. Tszyu, as demonstrated against Zab Judah in 2001, is a one-punch bomber capable of knocking Mayweather's head into next week. But he lacks speed, and Mayweather would be licking his chops at the offensive opportunities an aging fighter like Tszyu presents. Add to that the fact that Tszyu hasn't fought since January 2003, and you wonder if this wouldn't be a complete mismatch. Forget about Mayweather's new aggressive approach: He'd stay safe in this one. And he'd probably win by a wide decision or late rounds stoppage. Odds: Mayweather 3-1
Sharmba Mitchell: Stylistically, the veteran Mitchell presents an intriguing challenge to Mayweather. A smart boxer who depends on excellent footwork, speed and a knack for the game, Mitchell has many of the same attributes as Mayweather. He does lack power, but at 140 pounds, he would probably be the stronger man. He would have a decided disadvantage in speed, however, and he would probably have to force the action more than usual to get Mayweather's respect. But he is a tricky southpaw who is known to lay traps, and Mayweather could well walk right into one. Maybe the toughest junior welter of all for Mayweather. Odds: Mayweather 2-1
Vivian Harris: Harris is little-known, but he does hold the WBA belt and he is a tough customer who would represent a tougher 140-pound challenge than Corley earlier this year. Harris can box a little, can punch a little, and is generally a very good fighter. But he is probably no match for a Mayweather, and would end up getting dominated down the stretch, just like Corley. Odds: Mayweather 4-1
Ricky Hatton: Hatton is a nice little fighter with power in both hands and a fierce demeanor. But no way is he ready for the type of challenge Mayweather will present. This may be a fight in 3 or 4 years. Right now, it's not even close. Odds: Mayweather 10-1