If you were somehow required to design the nightmare opponent for Floyd Mayweather, chances are, it would probably closely resemble Thomas Hearns.
Standing six feet two inches tall and possessing an incredible wingspan of seventy-eight inches, Detroit’s destructive ‘Hitman’ is widely considered one of the finest welterweights America – or indeed the world – has ever produced.
Meanwhile, Mayweather is regarded by certain commentators as not only the greatest fighter of his generation, but arguably the greatest pugilist of all time.
With a record-breaking record of 50 wins without any blemishes whatsoever, the Grand Rapids native is often depicted, for all intents and purposes, as a perfect fighter. That is, someone who would be capable, hypothetically, of overcoming any stylistic challenge that he is presented with and winning in comfortable fashion.
Notwithstanding the few obvious examples to the contrary in Castillo and De La Hoya – among others – boxing fans less predisposed towards swallowing the hyperbole that largely defined the latter part of Mayweather’s career, understand fully that no fighter is devoid of shortcomings.
Therefore, a welterweight from the past who immediately springs to mind as being most capable of effectively capitalising on Floyd’s physical disadvantages is the ‘Motor City Cobra’.
Not only would Hearns, in my opinion, become the first man to defeat Mayweather; he would do so in emphatic style, obliterating any notions of ‘TBE’.
Let’s, for a moment, imagine the scenario: a championship unification between 32-0 Hearns and the 39-0 Floyd undergoing the process of transitioning from his flashy, fast ‘Pretty-Boy’ persona into his less mobile, more conservative ‘Money’ incarnation at welterweight.
The first bell rings for round one.
Hearns, adorned in fluorescent Kronk yellow, immediately assumes the centre of the ring, probing menacingly and prodding constantly with his left hand. Floyd is respectful and cautious; circling around the ring and attempting the occasional jab to the body but remaining wary of the threat of a Hearns sledgehammer right, which looms large.
Mayweather is somewhat slippery with his head movement but fails himself to land anything of note; in his conscious efforts to avoid the danger zone of Hearns, he invariably finds himself out of range.
Mayweather is not disheartened, however, and effectively remains in a defensive shell for the subsequent round as he attempts to discern any decisive weaknesses in his opposite number and concoct a strategy to start winning rounds.
A jab from Hearns is partially blocked, but Floyd feels the power nonetheless. He remains largely unperturbed, as his chin has never failed him so far in his career.
The following rounds are more of the same; Floyd is struggling to find openings as he concedes them on volume and activity.
Although Hearns will come to exhibit deficiencies in the chin and stamina departments as he ventures up the weight divisions; at this moment in time he is not significantly troubled by Floyd’s power – nor is he having to work particularly hard.
The ring is simply not big enough for Floyd, however, who is being effortlessly manoeuvred around the ring by the deliberate, poised footwork of Hearns, and whose offensive endeavours are being consistently frustrated by the lead hand of his opponent.
Roger Mayweather implores his nephew and star pupil to show more urgency and go to the midsection in an attempt to slow his wiry foes advances. He grimly stresses that Floyd has to exchange in order to win; and that his typically clean, counter-punching approach will be completely ineffectual against this type of adversary.
However, it becomes readily apparent that he is unable to exchange straight punches to get inside the taller, rangier Hearns, who has now found a home for a stinging left jab and is zipping out his lead hand with greater confidence.
Electing to forsake the caginess that has so far characterised his performance, Floyd comes out more aggressively as per his uncle’s instructions and takes a devastating, trademark right hand bomb for his troubles.
Possessing Leonard’s champion heart – if not his punch and sheer versatility – Floyd is stopped on his feet by lethal finisher Hearns.
A couple of years later, no longer undefeated and no longer hindered by pretences of being unbeatable, Floyd satiates boxing fans by agreeing to fight a prime Manny Pacquiao, defeating him convincingly and unanimously on points.
In the process, Mayweather asserts himself as the second best fighter on the planet, and garners universal love and respect from fight fans; something which previously eluded him for much of his career.
… What if, eh?
Article by: Navi Singh
You can follow Navi on Twitter at: @hombre__obscuro