“This is a hunger game and the odds are not in your favor.”
–Floyd “Money” Mayweather
Around the time that Floyd dropped the above statement, he was a 42-0, 34 year-old pound-for-pound champion consumed with the idea of not facing Manny Pacquiao.
It was September 17, 2011 and he’d just beaten Victor Ortiz by a most suspect sucker punch. But Ortiz deserved this, because he acted like a real lollipop before Floyd whacked him in the 4th round. The idea of that fight was to get a better measure of still fully loaded and lethal Pacquiao, via the aggressive and fundamentally flawed southpaw Ortiz.
What I saw that night from Ortiz (who possessed elite power and quickness), was a crude but talented B- fighter, who indeed showed that an aggressive southpaw was somewhat of a Kryptonite against Mayweather, one of the best pure boxers the sweet science will ever know. In April 2006, I sat ringside and watched a solid B fighter in Zab Judah drop Mayweather (he wasn’t officially credited with the knockdown- but it was one) and hang on even terms with the last vestiges of “Pretty Boy” Floyd, a fighter superior to “Money” Mayweather in my opinion.
After 6 rounds, I had Judah up by a point, but a separation was already starting to reveal itself in terms of their skill sets, along with the one thing that truly made Mayweather beyond special: his otherworldly conditioning. Had Judah not badly fouled Floyd after the 9th round, he would’ve most likely been stopped in the 11th. But what could not escape the mind, was just how much difficulty Judah gave a brand new 29 year-old Mayweather at the height of his power. Judah, like Ortiz, was a fast and powerful southpaw with glaring weaknesses. Judah never had special conditioning and was weak in the mind. Ortiz was not only mentally weak, but he had a chin that might as well have said “Made in China”.
None of this applies to Vasyl Lomachenko.
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What started all of this analyzing into the psyche of Floyd when pitted against the wunderkind from Ukraine was the other day, after leaving the Shadow Boxing Academy in Jersey. A close friend, a diehard Guillermo Rigondeaux fan from Cuba, asked me on the train if I thought Rigondeaux would beat Lomachenko on December 9. “Nah, I don’t think so,” I told him. “Look, Rigo has never been afraid to try something new, after all, amateurs built the ark, but professionals built the Titanic. He’s about to find out he’s not invincible.”
“I think Rigo was the greater amateur, but he’s not the better pro. He’s giving up 10lbs and 10 years to a physically stronger guy. Loma’s special. And I actually think it would be better for Rigo if he wasn’t a southpaw… He’s going to get knocked out.”
Then it was, “Well, who do you think can beat him at 130?” After mentally surveying the field in or around super featherweight, I drew blanks. Then, I started processing the Sandy Saddlers and Salvador Sanchez’s of the world.
“No one… Maybe Floyd Mayweather from a time machine.”
But then again, after I thought about it, that wouldn’t work either, although I don’t believe Lomachenko would’ve stopped Pretty Boy Floyd, one of my favorite fighters of all-time. I know how many serious problems Paulie Spadafora gave Mayweather around 130, during very real sparring sessions. “Chop-Chop” Corley hurt Floyd badly in their classic and Emanuel Augustus really bothered him. In fact, he’s the real reason I don’t think that Mayweather would’ve beaten this upcoming edition of Vasyl Lomachenko. Augustus had no discernible pattern or rhythm, with unusual footwork and punch sequence. Lomachenko is Augustus to the 3rd degree.
Miguel Cotto was converted to orthodox, but all of the fighters who’ve ever really given Floyd problems are fast southpaws — his Achilles heel — and Lomachenko is vastly superior to all of them. His conditioning would match Floyd’s and possibly surpass it, in addition to matching his hand speed, which is something that no one could do with Floyd in his prime at 130. Lomachenko simply takes more offensive risk.
In a much better and more exciting chess match than the one he had with Gary Russell Jr, Vasyl Lomachenko would slightly outwork and defeat Floyd Mayweather in a ridiculous skillsfest by a very close UD.