PORTLAND, Oregon – Floyd Mayweather continued his campaign along the way to greatness with a sixth round stoppage of Sharmba Mitchell in the odd setting of non-boxing town of Portland Saturday night in a non-title welterweight bout scheduled for 12.
Mayweather, 35-0 (24 KOs), Las Vegas, Nev., 147, ripped Mitchell, 56-5 (30 KOs), Washington, D.C., 145, from the opening bell, setting a pace that Mitchell could not match and landing punches that he could not answer.
Landing straight rights to the head and body of Mitchell, Mayweather patiently stalked the aging southpaw. It was clear from the outset that Mitchell could not settle into his usual outside fight plan. He also did not have the ability to wage the necessary punching war that it would take to pull Mayweather out of his routine of sizing up his prey before seizing and destroying it.
After two obvious winning opening rounds, Mayweather caught Mitchell with a sharp right hand to the temple to drop him for a brief count in round three. While the round was scored 10-8, it was obvious that scoring would not be a factor.
In round five, Mitchell landed his one and only significant punch of the fight, a left hand, but it had little effect on the resilient Mayweather.
Round six started much the same with Mayweather dominating but with Mitchell working hard to stay in the fight.
A hard straight right to the body sent Mitchell down in a delayed fashion. Despite being fully conscious he remained on a knee until the count of eight. Upon rising he was in agony and referee Richard Steele called a halt to the one-sided match. A feeble Mitchell protest was nothing more than show.
The Sweet Science scored the fight 50-44 through round five.
Mitchell’s previous engagements with the elite of the sport included his two losing efforts against Kostya Tszyu in 140-pound title matches. In the first encounter he believed his fight was stopped too early. In the second he was completely dominated by the powerful Russian born Australian resident.
Though highly rated by all the major sanctioning bodies as a welterweight, Mitchell was widely seen as an inferior opponent and an insufficient test – primarily due to his age and lack of power – for the current pound-for-pound number one Mayweather and that proved a correct assessment. For anyone else, a victory over Mitchell would go high on the resume of significant wins.
The bout was Mayweather’s debut as welterweight and his future most likely lies in that division. A fight with fellow 140-pounder Ricky Hatton, the linear champion of the division, remains a problematic proposition due to site and money demands of both fighters.
Ahead could be a super fight with champion Zab Judah. Fights with Antonio Margarito, a belt holder, former champions – and the truly big names – Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosely are also possibilities.
His stay-busy strategy until such contests materialize, if they do, could find him returning to defend his WBC super-lightweight belt against his next mandatory, Britain’s Junior Witter. Unfortunately Witter is not the sort of challenge that will bring the huge paydays that he seeks.
“Pretty Boy” has moved to the forefront of the pound-for-pound class and will in all likelihood eventually capture one of the big names. He continues to voice that his true motivation is to become a legend of the sport. If that’s the case, he’ll forgo the multi-million dollar payday at least once to make a big fight happen.
If he wants his Leonard-Hearns, or even Hopkins-Trinidad, something must give. A little money gone now could mean both big cash later and more importantly the legendary status Floyd claims he wants.