Floyd Mayweather: Kostya Tszyu’s Biggest Challenge

By Francis Walker
Updated: November 7, 2004

Floyd Mayweather

NEW YORK, NY.—Kostya Tszyu is the best junior welterweight fighter in professional boxing. He unified the undisputed junior welterweight title with ease and has not lost a fight in over 7½ years. Tszyu is the type of fighter that in order to beat him, a fighter must be durable enough to withstand his punishment and be strong enough to keep Tszyu from applying relentless pressure.

There is only one fighter that can unseat Tszyu from his throne and that’s Floyd Mayweather.

Mayweather began his professional career at age 19. Prior to his pro debut in October 1996, Mayweather won a bronze medal for the U.S. boxing team in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Mayweather won his first world title less than two years after his first pro fight in Oct. 1998. Genaro Hernandez, the WBC 130-pound champion, was overwhelmed by Mayweather’s speed and power. Hernandez surrendered his title by quitting on his stool prior to the start of the eighth round.

Mayweather, following a two-round destruction against top contender, Angel Manfredy had won seven fights in 1998 to claim fighter of the year honors.

Mayweather would successfully defend the WBC 130-pound title eight times which included a sound one-sided beating against 6’ 2,” Diego Corrales, one of the most dangerous fighters between 130-135 in the last five years, before winning the WBC 130-pound title in 2002.

After several defenses of the 135-pound title, Mayweather, now a junior welterweight, is looking for more challenges along with another world title. Mayweather could go through Arturo Gatti (WBC) and Vivian Harris (WBA) to win another title, but the king of the division is Tszyu. Gatti and Harris did not beat Tszyu, who three years ago unified the junior welterweight division. Gatti and Harris won the titles in elimination bouts after Tszyu was stripped because of injuries.

Tszyu has only lost one fight in his professional career. Tszyu has not suffered a defeat in over 7 ½ years. Vince Phillips, a friend of Roy Jones, Jr., knocked Tszyu out in the eleventh round to capture the IBF junior welterweight title in May 1997.

Phillips was the only fighter who has the power, determination, and endurance to withstand Tszyu’s power and brute force. Although Tszyu is 5’ 7,” and fights at 140 pounds, he has been able to every fighter he has faced he has defeated

Unlike Tszyu, Mayweather’s boxing skills has transcended into three weight classes. In his junior welterweight debut, Mayweather handpicked a legitimate top-10 contender, DeMarcus Corley for his first fight at 140 pounds. Mayweather was the faster, quicker fighter, but was not afraid to apply his power as Corley was knocked down in rounds eight and ten. Mayweather won a decisive 12-round unanimous decision.

Tszyu is strong and has one-punch, knockout power in both fists. He also likes to come straight –forward when applying pressure, but Mayweather can box and throw combinations from different angles. Above all else, Mayweather is relentless and has a supreme confidence that is unmatched by any other fighter.

Tszyu is Dominant: Kostya Tszyu (31-1-1, 25 KOs) again proved his dominance in the 140-pound division once more by knocking out Sharmba Mitchell (55-4, 31 KOs) in the third-round of a one-sided, but exciting rematch on Saturday in Las Vegas, NV. It was Tszyu’s first defense of the 140-pound title in almost two years.

At age 35, Tszyu, 35 following a lengthy absence to heal various injuries, had an easier time dismantling Mitchell when they fought three years ago.

During their first bout, Mitchell torn a muscle in his left knee and surrendered his WBA 140-pound title to Tszyu on his stool. Tszyu, then the WBC/WBA 140-pound champion, went on to KO IBF champion, Zab Judah to become the undisputed world junior welterweight king.

Tszyu, who suffered a small cut on the left side of his eye in the first round, knocked Mitchell down with straight right in round two. Tszyu’s strength and resilience intimidated Mitchell, who began the fight aggressively.

Following the first knockdown, it appeared as though Mitchell thought twice about contending with Tszyu’s power. Tszyu also scored two knockdowns in round three with the final knockdown being the most brutal. Tszyu pressed Mitchell against the ropes with a vicious body attack followed by hard punches to his head to force a TKO stoppage at the 2:42 second mark.

Unlike Mitchell, Mayweather will not lean against the ropes in submission and allow Tszyu to pummel him as the fight becomes increasingly difficult. Tszyu was relentlessly aggressive in bullying Mitchell around the ring. Mayweather is the type fighter who seeks and almost instantly commands respect once he hits you.

Tszyu-Mayweather would definitely become a hot ticket if the fight were ever made. With key losses to Oscar De La Hoya and Roy Jones, Jr. in consecutive weeks during September along with a stagnated heavyweight division, Tszyu-Mayweather could not come a better time.