By Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports
April 18, 2007
Floyd Mayweather stands almost 5-foot-9, weighs 154 pounds, has a 72-inch reach and can drop most mortals with a single swing of either hand.
He's fast, athletic and dodges punches as well as anyone, maybe ever. In 13 world title fights, he won all 13. His next one is May 5 in Las Vegas, this time as a junior middleweight, against Oscar de la Hoya, as big a fight as boxing has seen in years.
His nickname may be "Pretty Boy," but he is one bad, bad man.
On Cinco de Mayo we'll find out if Mayweather can beat de la Hoya he's the heavy favorite but could he beat a snarling, menacing, multi-skilled champion of the Ultimate Fighting Championship?
How about lightweight (155 pound) champ Sean Sherk, who may stand just 5-foot-6, may suffer from a distinct reach disadvantage, but as a mixed martial arts master is schooled in "interdisciplinary forms of fighting that include jiu-jitsu, judo, karate, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling."
Could the best pound-for-pound fighter in the old combat sport (boxing) handle a champion in the new combat sport (UFC)?
"UFC's champions can't handle boxing. That's why they are in UFC." Mayweather said Tuesday from Las Vegas during a break in training. "Put one of our guys in UFC and he'd be the champion. Any good fighter, he'd straight knock them out."
Dana White, a one-time boxer and boxing instructor and current UFC president, laughs at that.
"Boxers couldn't become mixed martial artists. That's why they're boxers," White countered Wednesday from England where UFC has an event Saturday. "They are one trick ponies. Our guys can do everything. They can box, they can kick box, they can wrestle and do jiu-jitsu. They are much better athletes than boxers."
Mayweather may be right, but he'd have to be. Any boxer stepping into the UFC octagon would have to knock his opponent out before the mixed martial artist got a hold of him, because once the fight fell to the mat, where things get nasty, the boxer is all but finished.
But, as Mayweather points out, the often (by boxing standards) clumsy and lead-with-their-face UFC guys would have to walk through a hail of vicious jabs, crosses and hooks to get there.
"Take Chuck Liddell," Mayweather said of the UFC's biggest star and light heavyweight champion (about 205 pounds). "Put him in the ring with a (boxer) who is just 10-0 and Chuck Liddell would get punished."
So you'd punish a UFC champion, too?
"Come on, man. What'd you think? Am I just 10-0?"
Mayweather is 37-0.
Liddell, with six inches and 50 pounds on Mayweather, isn't possible, but someone like Sherk, someone his size? With that insane reach, unreal punching power and by UFC rules aided by small, light 4-ounce gloves would Mayweather carve up Sherk instantly? Or would Sherk fight throughout the barrage and get Mayweather in a clutch no ref will save him from?
"They wouldn't have a chance to grapple (us) because we'd knock them out," Mayweather said in general. "(The fighter) would be knocked out before he even touched us."
Of course, perhaps no punch is strong enough to stop a charging opponent.
No one really knows what would happen at such an elite level.
"I used to talk like Floyd Mayweather when I was involved in boxing," White said. "I talked just like him, until I educated myself about this sport. These guys are amazing athletes, Floyd Mayweather is one of the best boxers ever, (and) Sean Sherk will whoop his ass in under two minutes."
"Any day that Mayweather wants to put his money and his ass where his mouth is, I'm ready," White continued. "If he wants to step up, let's do it."
First off, Mayweather was talking mostly in general about his disdain for UFC "Boxing is an art, UFC is a fad." But Mayweather has spent almost as much time this spring ripping UFC as de la Hoya, who he seems to consider as little more than a matinee idol useful for only increasing the purse.
"I never knew popularity to win any fight," Mayweather said. "I'll beat him and come home and watch basketball."
The UFC, though, is clearly on his mind. He brought it up on his own Tuesday. Earlier this month he cracked that "anyone can put a tattoo on their head and get in a street fight."
Mayweather may be a talker loquacious doesn't begin to describe the 30-year-old but he isn't dumb. So maybe he is setting up another big pay day in the event he dusts de la Hoya and boxing has little to offer. Or maybe he just wants to promote a fight involving others.
Of course, the economics of UFC would have to change to get Mayweather to participate. UFC fighters make a fraction of top boxers. As part of the family business, Mayweather, his dad and his uncle handle all aspects of his career. For the de la Hoya fight he'll earn millions.
"Why would I go into a sport paying hundreds of thousands when I'm in a sport paying $20 million?" Mayweather said.
Mayweather knows full well, though, that the pay per view money is there for the taking on something like this, a battle that would be intriguing at nearly every level. White would just about kill for this to go down, preferably with Mayweather involved as a fighter.
"I'm willing to put together a fight for Sean Sherk and Floyd Mayweather with numbers that would make sense for Floyd," White said. "And I guarantee you he would not accept it. Floyd Mayweather would never fight in the UFC because he would get his head ripped off."
Yes, he would. But only if Sherk didn't get his head ripped off first.
Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist. Send Dan a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.