Against veteran Baldomir, ‘Pretty’
safe betting on Mayweather

Oct 31, 2006 6:16 AM

The first line I saw was 8-1 and I thought it was a steal. There was no way Floyd Mayweather Jr. could lose to Carlos Baldomir, I thought.

Then his trainer, uncle Roger, got sent to jail (cherchez la femme). The odds dropped. I’ve seen them as low as 4-1. Roger Mayweather wasn’t going to be able to work the corner since he stormed into the ring after Zab Judah earlier this year, but now he wouldn’t be able to oversee the daily routine as boxing’s best got ready for his toughest challenge in years.

Laying 4-1 or 6-1 or even 8-1 is not my idea of gambling. But gambling on Mayweather beating Baldomir is probably as safe an investment in Microsoft or Enron.

This is not to disparage the real, true welterweight champion of the world. Baldomir deservedly has the 147-pound title no matter what the alphabets might say. That is akin to James Braddock being the champion and Joe Louis the challenger. It’s still a mismatch.

Mayweather is simply too good.

Baldomir is sturdy, tough, gallant, a grizzled veteran of 58 pro fights. Don’t look at his overall mark of 43-9-6. He hasn’t lost since 1998, going 20-0-2 since then. This year, he went into Judah’s home town and knocked off the welterweight champion. Then he went into Arturo Gatti’s home arena in Atlantic City. In what was called an upset by some (we knew better, of course), he obliterated the human highlight real.

Now coming into Mayweather’s home town of Las Vegas this Saturday there are those who think Baldomir is a bigger, stronger version of Jose Luis Castillo, the former lightweight champion who still has given Mayweather his two toughest fights.

They believe the Argentine, who took what the faster, sharper Judah was laying on him early before landing one fight-changing punch in the seventh round, would -pressure Mayweather and wilt the former junior lightweight champion (fighting in a division 17 pounds higher).

In ring center, these experts believe Mayweather’s speed will be decisive. However, once Baldomir gets him on the ropes, they feel the tide will turn. Forget it.

No one, not even James Toney or Azumah Nelson, is better fighting off the ropes than Mayweather. No one, not even prime Pernell Whitaker, is better at escaping from the ropes than Mayweather.

And I’ve got news for those experts. Mayweather will have height, reach and probably strength advantages over Baldomir. He doesn’t need a trainer, either, not at this stage. Mayweather was probably throwing dazzling combinations and tucking his chin in under his shoulder, which is anatomically impossible for mere mortals.

When Roy Jones Jr. left his father, just about every trainer in the Western world applied for the gig. He chose Alton Merkerson, whom he knew from his amateur days. Why? Because Coach Merk would say, "Two minutes”¦.one minute”¦.time," and not try to change him. Pretty Boy will have his buddy, Leonard Ellerbee, and longtime assistant trainer Rafael Garcia - the man who wraps his brittle hands - in the corner and he probably doesn’t even need the stool.

With a five-inch reach edge, Mayweather can easily fight Baldomir from the outside. I suspect, though, he is going to feel his burgeoning strength and be more aggressive than usual. Since his two close calls with Castillo, Mayweather has not been called on to face much. Again how many guys, after winning a controversial decision (unanimously) would jump right back in the ring with the same tough guy to leave no doubt who was better? His opponents after Castillo have been Victoriano Sosa, Phillip N’Dou, DeMarcus (Chop Chop) Corley, Henry Bruseles, Gatti, the washed up Sharmba Mitchell and Judah off the loss to Baldomir.

Detractors said he was ducking Antonio Margarito, Bob Arum’s well-protected WBOgus title-holder, which is a laugh. Margarito has nowhere near the accomplishments of Baldomir. He would be a big underdog in my mind against Sugar Shane Mosley. It is an insult to Mayweather to mention Margarito in the same sentence.

Mayweather claims he’s the best fighter in the history of the game. That’s his biggest weakness. His ego. He may have been able to teach Sugar Ray Robinson a defensive trick or two, but no way could he have competed against such firepower. If Mayweather could punch like a Robinson, he’d have to be declared illegal.

As long as he doesn’t read this and decide to go for the knockout, instead of letting one happen, he is absolutely a safe bet against Baldomir.