- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Like most folks in boxing, Floyd Mayweather Jr. had never heard of Carlos Baldomir until nine months ago.
That's when Baldomir, an obscure fighter from Santa Fe, Argentina, crashed the boxing world like a Joe Frazier left hook used to crush flesh.
Baldomir came out of nowhere to outpoint -- and nearly knock out -- undisputed welterweight champion Zab Judah in his hometown of New York in January.
It sent shock waves through the sport, but Baldomir wasn't done yet. In July, he jolted boxing again when he went to Arturo Gatti's Atlantic City, N.J. turf and pulled another upset, hammering the superstar for a ninth-round knockout in his first defense.
Now Baldomir defends his title for the second time against pound-for-pound king Mayweather when they meet Nov. 4 (HBO PPV) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Mayweather's hometown, in one of the year's biggest fights.
Going to his opponent's hometown is just another day at the office for the 35-year-old Baldomir, who has globe-trotted his way through eight different countries on his way to the unexpected world title.
Baldomir's travels brought him to New York and face-to-face with Mayweather on Wednesday to kick off the promotion of their fight, which is being billed as "Pretty Risky," an homage to Mayweather's "Pretty Boy" nickname and the tough task he has in front of him.
The ultra-confident Baldomir said he plans to continue his recent high-profile run and questioned Mayweather's guts.
"I always like big challenges and I am feeling excited and motivated for this fight," Baldomir said. "I'm going to surprise the world again and keep on winning. Nobody ever thought I would win those two fights. I don't talk much, but I do fight a lot. I'll beat Mayweather, too.
"My confidence comes with how much bigger I am than Mayweather. He's come up a few weight classes and I've been here. He's the most skilled opponent I've fought. He's really fast and doesn't just stand and trade with you like Gatti. He runs. Whenever he gets tapped, he runs. He doesn't have Gatti's heart."
Glenn Quiroga, president of Baldomir promoter Sycuan Ringside Promotions, also believes Baldomir can upset the apple cart again.
"We're very aware that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is undefeated and incredibly talented," he said. "But Carlos was the underdog against Zab Judah and was again against Arturo Gatti [and] everybody in boxing knows what happened in those fights. It's said lightning doesn't strike twice; well, it has, so there's no reason it can't strike a third time."
Mayweather, naturally, had a different opinion. "I don't think the fight is going the distance, not at all," Mayweather said, predicting a knockout. "I'm going out there to put on a show."
Although Baldomir (43-9-6, 13 KOs) has numerous blemishes on an uninspiring record, he hasn't lost in seven years, not since dropping an eight-round decision to Alberto Cortes in Argentina on Dec. 11, 1998. Since then, he is 19-0-2, including a victory against Cortes in their rematch.
That is one of the reasons Mayweather decided to fight him -- because in Mayweather's mind, even though Baldomir is the champion, it was Baldomir who had earned an opportunity to fight the No. 1 fighter in the world and the substantial paycheck that goes along with it.
"He's a good opponent and he's proved himself," Mayweather said. "He's a welterweight who has proved himself and he deserves to fight the 'Pretty Boy.' You got guys out there like [belt holder] Antonio Margarito calling me out, saying they want to fight me, but they haven't beaten anybody, so that doesn't mean anything. I've never ducked or dodged nobody. This guy, Baldomir, he deserves the fight. He's been undefeated for years and he beat Gatti and he beat Judah."
Mayweather (36-0, 24 KOs) also defeated Gatti and Judah, stopping Gatti to win a junior welterweight belt in June 2005 and outpointing Judah in April.
The win over Judah netted Mayweather a tainted welterweight title, tainted because the IBF incredibly allowed Judah to keep it even though he clearly lost to Baldomir in January.
Mayweather, 29, was forced to relinquish the belt shortly after the fight and is pleased to have an opportunity to add the legitimate 147-pound crown to a collection that includes recognized titles at junior lightweight and lightweight and the paper title he won from Gatti at junior welterweight.
"The people might recognize Baldomir as the true welterweight champion for now," Mayweather said. "Come November, there will be a different story to tell and it will all be pretty, for me."
Despite the opportunity to win the welterweight title, Mayweather's stature as the pound-for-pound best is more important to him than the belts.
"A belt is a great thing to have and an accomplishment in life," Mayweather said. "We are in the sport of boxing to be the best and having the label of being the best is always better than being champion. I always want the label of being the best more than just being called a champion. It's not about the belts to me. It's about legacy. I'm not worried about no titles. I'm the best fighter in the game, but I'm not here to overlook nobody. Everyone is gunning for me."
Baldomir said Mayweather shouldn't count on retaining his lofty position in the sport.
"My time has come and I have no fear of Mayweather, and as a matter of fact, I can't wait to get my fists on him," Baldomir said. "His pretty looks can't help him when he steps in the ring and I will continue to show the world that my last fights weren't the best I can be. I plan on being faster and throwing bigger bombs on every part of Mayweather's body. I am very confident and he'll see I'm the best welterweight in the world, and I'm going to stay that way."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.