Mayweather, Baldomir to square off with title on line

Floyd Mayweather Jr., widely regarded as the pound-for-pound king, will challenge welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir Nov. 4 in an HBO PPV main event at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

"We're very excited about fighting Baldomir," said Leonard Ellerbe, a Mayweather adviser. "It's the fight the fans want to see. Baldomir is coming off two major victories and the fans say he's the true welterweight champion. You have the 'Pretty Boy' coming to take away his welterweight championship."

Baldomir, of Argentina, was unknown when he upset undisputed welterweight champion Zab Judah in January in New York, Judah's hometown. Baldomir parlayed that victory into a July 22 fight against popular Arturo Gatti, stopping him with ease in the ninth round in Atlantic City, N.J., Gatti's home base.

Now he will face Mayweather in Las Vegas, where Mayweather lives.

Despite nine losses, Baldomir is 19-0-2 in his last 21 bouts and hasn't lost since 1998. He has only been stopped once, suffering a second-round knockout in 1994 in his seventh fight.

"We know Baldomir is a tough, hard-nosed competitor," Ellerbe said. "He's coming to knock Floyd off his throne. He's been known for going to people's backyards and pulling off upsets. In his mind, he's coming to Vegas to do the same thing. We've got different plans for him. We'll show Baldomir why Floyd is the best fighter in the world. But we expect a very tough fight from him. He didn't just happen to go into New York and beat a very talented Zab Judah. He didn't just happen to go into Atlantic City and beat Gatti. We know what he is bringing to the table. When you are on top like Floyd is, everyone is gunning for you."

Mayweather (36-0, 29 KOs) also holds victories against Gatti and Judah. He stopped Gatti last summer to win a junior welterweight title. Then he moved up in weight in April and easily outpointed Judah, who was coming off the loss to Baldomir.

For beating Judah, Mayweather, 29, won a tainted welterweight belt, one that Judah was allowed to keep by the IBF even though he lost to Baldomir (43-9-6, 13 KOs) in a title fight. Mayweather later relinquished it.

Against Baldomir, Mayweather can win the recognized world welterweight championship. He previously won titles as a junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight.

Promoter Dan Goossen will put on the card after signing Mayweather, who has been a free agent since buying out longtime promoter Top Rank for $750,000 following the Judah fight.

Mayweather fought his entire career under Top Rank except for a fight against Sharmba Mitchell last fall. Goossen promoted that one, and is excited to be working with Mayweather again.

"I think it's a great matchup," Goossen said. "The two styles will mesh very well. The talented, flashy fighter in Floyd Mayweather, the pound-for-pound best in the world, who is trying to get that legacy of being one of the greatest against a man who hasn't lost in nine years, who keeps on coming at you with constant pressure, pressure, pressure. It's a fight fan's fight.

"But when you fight someone like Baldomir, you are fighting someone who is not only the linear champion but a guy who can go out there and upset the apple cart. He's done it before. People realize that it's a great fight and it's got intrigue."

Although terms of Mayweather's deal with Goossen were not released, industry sources believe he will make at least $8 million, plus a percentage of pay-per-view profits. Mayweather rejected the same offer from Top Rank to face titlist Antonio Margarito.

Baldomir, 35, who will earn about $1.7 million plus a percentage of pay-per-view profits, got the fight over junior middleweight titlist Cory Spinks. Mayweather would have moved up to 154 pound for that match, one that was heavily criticized in the media when the negotiations came to light.

In addition to so much negative press about a Spinks fight, there were other issues. Spinks, who beat Roman Karmazin July 8 to win the belt, owes Rodney Jones a mandatory fight, and Jones promoter Artie Pelullo was considering legal action if Jones was bypassed in favor of a Spinks-Mayweather bout.

It was enough to cause Mayweather's handlers a big enough headache that they decided to finalize a deal with Baldomir, which is the more fan-friendly fight anyway.

"I think when everything got down to the nitty gritty, one of the factors was that Spinks obviously had a mandatory due with Rodney Jones and we really didn't want to get into a situation where there were legal ramifications," Goossen said. "They were neck and neck all the way through the process, but Baldomir was the direction that gave Floyd the ability to fight someone everyone wanted to see him in the ring with."

The Mayweather camp also had conversations with handlers for former junior welterweight champ Kostya Tszyu, who hasn't fought since losing his title to Ricky Hatton 14 months ago. Those talks, however, quickly died when it became apparent that Tszyu wasn't going to fight for the rest of the year.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com