Ahead of his shot at Manny Pacquiao on Saturday, Steve Luckings looks at how Floyd Mayweather acquired each of his titles in five different weight divisions.
WBC Super Featherweight Champion (130lbs)
Less than two years into a career in the brutal world of professional boxing, the WBC were fastening their super featherweight strap around Floyd Mayweather Jr’s waist. The American would often be accused of handpicking his opponents later in his career, but he could hardly have picked a tougher king to dethrone in the 130-pound division in 1998 than the venerated Genaro Hernandez, who had only lost once, to Oscar De La Hoya. So accomplished and polished was Mayweather’s performance though, Hernandez’s cornerman, his brother Rudy, stopped the fight in Round 8, saving his sibling from more punishment. “He defeated me, he is quick, smart and I always knew he had the speed. I give him respect. He is a true champ,” Hernandez, who never fought again, said after.
WBC Light Welterweight Champion (140lbs)
What is it with Mayweather and protracted negotiations? OK, so 12 months to agree terms to fight for Arturo Gatti’s light welterweight title is small change compared to the 72 it took to negotiate with Pacquiao’s camp, but still, how hard can it be? “Want to fight and make a ton of money?”, “Sure!” Gatti’s stock could not have been higher, coming off the greatest trilogy the sport has known against Micky Ward, and the enmity in the build-up to the fight was toxic, which spilt over into the fight itself. Mayweather scored a knock-down in the first round. As Gatti complained to the referee he was hit with an illegal punch, Mayweather landed a jaw-crushing left hook that sent Gatti to the ropes and his knees. Dirty tactics aside, Mayweather was too quick, too nimble and too good for Gatti, whose trainer stopped the fight after the sixth round for a Mayweather TKO.
WBC Lightweight Champion (135lbs)
No doubt the undefeated American (47-0) has his sights firmly set on matching, and probably surpassing, Rocky Marciano’s record of 49 fights unbeaten. But in 2002, Mayweather came as close to tasting defeat as he would at any stage in his career to date, and many pundits believe Jose Luis Castillo, despite a point deduction for repeatedly hitting on the break, was on the wrong end of a unanimous points decision. Mayweather’s twinkle toes and legendary defence kept Castillo at bay for the first five rounds of their 2002 bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, but he suffered a withering body assault from the Mexican in the latter rounds. Mayweather, who also was deducted a point, for use of his elbows in Round 9, went into the fight with an injured left shoulder and switched to a southpaw stance in the later rounds, acknowledged the controversy at the decision and immediately granted Castillo a rematch.
IBF Welterweight Champion (147lbs)
Zab Judah is arguably the only boxer with quicker hand speed that Mayweather has faced. Judah, the IBF champion, tore into his opponent like a two-fisted maniac during the first five rounds, and should have scored a knock-down in Round 2 when Mayweather’s glove touched the canvas following a straight left. But as one-sided as those early rounds were, the pendulum shifted in Mayweather’s favour for the last seven as he took control behind a peek-a-boo jab to cruise to a unanimous decision. The fight is infamous for the melee in Round 10 when Roger Mayweather, Floyd’s uncle and trainer, was involved in a scuffle with Zab and his father Yoel Judah, who was in his son’s corner, after Zab had hit Floyd with a blatant low blow after delivering a rabbit punch seconds earlier. Police entered the ring to restore order and Mayweather saw out the last two rounds with ease.
WBC Light Middleweight Champion (154lbs)
If ever two boxers knew their dollar value, it had to be “Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. Their 2007 fight was the most lucrative fight of all time (over US$130 million in generated revenue) and was at the time the highest-selling pay-per-view sports event in history (2.7 million units sold at $55 a pop). Tickets for the fight at the MGM Grand sold out in under three hours and generated over $19 million at the gate. With each fighter’s coffers suitably swelled, the fight turned out to be a damp squib with De La Hoya, a six-division world champion, outclassed and unable to land many meaningful shots on Mayweather. Quite how one judge scored the fight 115-113 in De la Hoya’s favour has left analysts and opticians baffled.
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