After months of speculation that IBF Welterweight Champion Floyd Mayweather would face a variety of opponents at a whole range of weights, the contracts have been signed for the fast handed Michigan native to square off with WBC Champion Carlos Baldomir in a unification clash scheduled for 4 November. On paper, this contest represents the biggest challenge of either man's career but it remains to be seen whether or not the actual bout itself will live up to that hypotheses.
Baldomir, 43-9-6 (13), will be the first natural welterweight that Mayweather has had the opportunity to share the ring with, and the bullish Argentine specializes in the type of relentless forward pressure that Jose Luis Castillo used to such good effect in his first fight with "Pretty Boy".
Mayweather, 36-0 (24), was blindingly fast of foot, hand and reflex as a super feather and has taken that advantage along for the ride at welter. This speed is exponentially magnified by the boxing skill that accompanies it as a long list of defeated Mayweather opponents can attest.
Early in his career Mayweather was close to untouchable, damn near perfect. But Emanuel Augustus was the first to tarnish that invincibility, putting far more leather on Floyd in a losing effort than anyone had previously as the two met at 134 lb in October, 2000.
Mayweather didn't have another scare until facing Jose Luis Castillo for the first time in April, 2002 and thereby setting the pattern for his future difficult fights; everytime Mayweather stepped up in weight he had difficulty during his maiden voyage at the higher weight class.
It was evident against Castillo when stepping up to lightweight and again at light welter when facing DeMarcus Corley in 2004. This mold was broken when Mayweather stepped up to welter but it's difficult to place his bout against Sharmba Mitchell last November as Mitchell by that point was well past his best days.
Zab Judah produced Mayweather's real initiation at welterweight four months ago and true to form, had the fantastically talented multi weight champion in a stretch of difficulty early on in their bout.
Can Baldomir press his advantages in weight and power to overcome Mayweather's greater natural gifts? Augustus, Castillo, Corley and Judah had their successes against Floyd by coming forward and throwing lots of leather and while Castillo came closest, obviously none were able to defeat Mayweather.
Baldomir will certainly try to pressure the master boxer and try to break down Mayweather as he did successfully against Gatti and to a lesser extent Judah, but at 35 years of age and a long career he may not have the stamina to keep the pace that Floyd will likely set as he seeks to shatter the Argentine's confidence in a storm of sharp counterpunches.