Last Saturday, Leo Santa Cruz finally had the test that boxing fans and insiders yearned to see him in. In a tough bout, Santa Cruz emerged with the victory via majority decision and claimed the vacant WBA Super World featherweight title in front of a raucous crowd of 13,109 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
On Oct. 17 from the Madison Square Garden, another undefeated fighter may see his first real test. Kazakh Gennady Golovkin could see just that when he takes on the hard-hitting Canadian David Lemieux in a middleweight unification fight.
Not everyone is considering this bout a test for the WBA Super champion. As a result, some fans are naturally going to be disinclined from dishing out $49.99 for pay-per-view if Golovkin happens to disfeature Lemieux fairly quickly.
If Lemieux isn’t the test for the Golovkin, then who is?
ESPN fight color commentator and legendary trainer Teddy Atlas has the answer.
When asked by Fight Hype, who Golovkin’s biggest test could be, Atlas introduced a fighter who is no stranger to money or seeing his name in the pound-for-pound rankings.
“Floyd Mayweather,” Atlas replied. “If Floyd wants to really sell more of those hats, the TBE, The Best Ever; if he wants me to buy one, then he does what Sugar Ray Leonard – what all those great fighters from the 80s did.”
“They went up in class, took a risk, fought bigger guys, and they won. [Sugar Ray] Leonard did it, [Tommy] Hearns did it, [Roberto] Duran, I mean they all did it. Pernell Whitaker, he did it, too.”
Like Mayweather, Leonard is a world champion in five different weight classes. However, Leonard never officially fought in the division in which he earned his fifth division title.
The November 1988 bout against Donny Lalonde was fought at the super-middleweight division for Leonard’s 168 titles and Lalonde’s light-heavyweight title. Leonard forced Lalonde to come down 17 pounds.
In the ninth round, Lalonde was completely sapped of his energy and crumbled to the canvas from a left hook.
A Mayweather-Golovkin fight has oppugnant ends. There are folks that don’t think Mayweather will take the fight because of the size differential, others think Golovkin could become the first man to beat and perhaps knockout Mayweather, and then we have the fans that believe Mayweather would out-box Golovkin.
From Atlas’s perspective, this is a fight that Mayweather must take and win in order to truly be ‘The Best Ever’ or at least end his career on a special note because so many boxers before him have taken that type of a risk.
That’s not saying that Mayweather hasn’t moved up in his career, which is clearly not true. You can’t be a world champion in five different weight classes without moving up at some point.
The 38-year old Mayweather stepped up immediately to fight Jose Luis Castillo. Although some say he lost the fight, you can’t discredit the man for stepping into that ring. And there’s been a countless number of fights that Mayweather was expected to lose, and ended up thoroughly dominating.
A Golovkin fight would be the toughest fight of his career without a doubt. This is a monster in his prime that has knocked out his last 20 opponents. It’s a middleweight Mike Tyson.
“He [the bigger guys] wasn’t too big for Leonard and those other guys; they were too smart, they were too fast,” he added.
Nevertheless, Atlas doesn’t think that Mayweather’s legacy will be any less terrific than it already is if he decide to bypass the Golovkin opportunity.
“He’s terrific. He doesn’t have to listen to me. He’s had a great career. God bless him. And he can go off to the sunset, and he earned it,” he explained.
“But if he really, really wants to put that special signature on it, step up to fight the bigger guy Golovkin who’s knocking guys out and show that you’re too fast, you’re too cute, you’re too slick, you’re too smart. Do that.”
“I would love to see the speed and cleverness of Mayweather against the power, the aggression, and the bodywork of Golovkin. That’d be interesting to see.”
One can dream, correct?