A Fantasy Fight Between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Sugar Ray Robinson
In the run-up to his bout with “Sugar” Shane Mosley, Mayweather made the claim that he was greater than either Muhammad Ali or the original “Sugar,” Ray Robinson. Leaving The Greatest out of it, let us focus on the guy who actually was welterweight champion once upon a time: “Sugar” Ray Robinson. Is Mayweather eclipsing Robinson? Could Mayweather beat Robinson in a welterweight showdown?
The answer is no to either question. On the career side of things, the answer is pretty obvious. Mayweather has been dogged by some valid questions of cherry-picking his opponents and ducking the most dangerous opposition available since he left the lightweight division. No one would ever make this claim about Ray Robinson. The man practically cleaned out the 147-pound division before even winning the title, necessitating his move to middleweight. His career resume is the literal who’s who of every fighter of note in the 1940s and 1950s. Mayweather is a pygmy by comparison.
In terms of boxing style, Shane Mosley himself showed us what would happen if Mayweather and Robinson ever met. He was a consummate ring general; arguably the greatest technical puncher that ever lived; and possessed a granite chin, fast hands, excellent balance and smooth footwork. Robinson was essentially a bigger, tougher version of Mosley, but without the flaws of “Sugar” Shane. Unlike Mosley, Robinson never let his warrior’s gallantry overwhelm his strategic thinking. Plus, while Robinson did lose some fights in his prime, he never lost rematches.
The Fight: Mayweather vs. Sugar Ray Robinson
The opening of a Mayweather vs. Robinson fight would see Mayweather doing his usual – make no mistake, Mayweather is talented enough to make Robinson miss and make him pay. But Robinson would continue to apply steady, measured pressure and not mind that he was losing rounds if it meant he was nailing down Mayweather’s timing and rhythm. Once he had that down, say around Round 4 or 5, he would take things up a notch.
Mayweather would find himself in a place where he thinks he is completely safe, but Robinson stepping just a quarter inch to the right or left leaves him wide open for a double jab, lead right or counter-left to the body. These would be single punches or two-punch combinations, for Robinson would have a hard time landing anything more. However, that works to Robinson’s advantage. Rather than go for the third and fourth blow, he would step off after scoring. Mayweather would find himself in the singularly frustrating position of fighting a guy who sometimes simply wasn’t there to counter.
Mayweather swept rounds 1, 2 and 3. 4 and 5 could have gone either way, but 6 was all Robinson. In the 7th, with Robinson in charge and fighting his fight, and Mayweather catching thunder and unnerved by it, the “Pretty Boy” finally loses his cool. He tries to shake Robinson out of his rhythm by attacking him, banking on his faster hands. It is a big mistake.
Robinson delivers a crushing counter while backing up, something Mayweather (nor any other fighter since Robinson’s day) has any reason to expect. Floyd goes down in a heap, but gets back to his feet on wobbly legs by the eight-count. Robinson, a lethal finisher, tries to put Mayweather down as he reaches out for Robinson and hangs on for dear life. Mayweather crashes to the floor for a second knockdown, gets back to his feet, and goes on to survive the round.
With Mayweather’s legs still too weak to work his defense properly, Robinson lands hard blows and carries the 8th, but is unable to knock down a Mayweather who now has his guard way, way up. Still tentative, Mayweather drops the 9th as well. Mid-way through the 10th, he tries to get back into the fight, but by then it is too late. Robinson has his number and continues to lance him. The capstone of Robinson’s dominance comes in the 11th, when a straight right lands flush in the middle of Mayweather’s face and smashes his nose. Mayweather gets on his bike and runs through the 12th to avoid a knockout defeat.
The scorecards read 115-111, 117-109 and 116-110, giving Robinson a decisive Unanimous Decision.