Part II of our Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao build-up looks at how approaching the richest fight in history, Floyd Mayweather becomes a global brand and a contender for the G.O.A.T.
The ‘Fight of the Century’ finally takes place after over five years of failed negotiations, accusations, and much hand-wringing. In a five part series, we look at the careers of both protagonists and their heavily anticipated bout.
Part I – The ‘Pretty Boy’ Era – Charts the early life and times of Olympian Floyd Mayweather as he begins his professional career amid a troubled childhood.
Part II – The ‘Money’ Era – Details how approaching the richest fight in history, Floyd Mayweather becomes a global brand and a contender for the G.O.A.T. But we’ll see that it’s not without controversy.
Part III – The ‘Mexicutioner’ – A look at a young Filipino fighter who is nicknamed “Mexicutioner” due to his dominance of fighters of Mexican decent.
Part IV – The Fighting Congressman – An insight into the basketball playing, singer/actor/politician as he stakes his claim to be called the world’s best.
Part V – A comprehensive preview of the biggest fight in modern boxing.
Thunder & Lightning
The date is June 25, 2005, and Floyd Mayweather is now in his element; truly beginning to embrace the larger than life persona that would transcend boxing.
Arturo ‘Thunder’ Gatti now stood in his way.
“Soon as I put his [rear] on the canvas, it will be quiet. I’ll put zippers on their mouths.” – Floyd Mayweather
Floyd landed over ten times more power punches than the Canadian (115 to 10), with Gatti landing just 41 punches in the entire bout, which lasted six rounds before Gatti’s corner retired.
“Flawless vs. Jawless”
In a fight billed as such by Larry Merchant, Mayweather faced Zab ‘Super’ Judah for the IBF welterweight title on April 8, 2006.
The first four rounds were quite remarkable for the fact that Judah’s hand speed seemed to outstrip that of Mayweather’s.
In that short lived period, Judah was able to go toe to toe in the middle of the ring against the Pretty Boy, and remarkably hold his own. Judah’s foot movement and speed were considerably slower from thereon in, a testament to Mayweather’s ability to stay the course.
Floyd eventually won a unanimous decision, gaining the IBF title in the process.
The Golden Girl
Oscar De La Hoya on May 5, 2007 was Floyd’s next challenge. The Golden Boy ( or ‘Girl’ as Floyd had Christened him), tried cutting off the ring, attempting to pound Mayweather on the inside.
Floyd took almost total control of the latter half of the fight, and won De La Hoya’s WBC Light Middleweight title in what was the first (and only) split decision in his professional career.
The superfight did 2.4 million Pay Per View buys – still the largest PPV buy rate of all time to this very day.
The British Invasion
After his defeat of Oscar De La Hoya in May 2007, Floyd Mayweather relinquished his WBC light-middleweight title, only to come out of his brief retirement in July to announce his next fight with Britain’s Ricky Hatton.
Floyd faced Manchester City fan Hatton in December 2007, with Ricky bringing tens of thousands of British fans along with him to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
To his credit, the then undefeated ‘Hitman’ pushed the pace and attempted to get right into Mayweather from the get-go. Floyd picked his spots and wore down Hatton, knocking him out in the 10th round to retain the welterweight championship.
Floyd then announced his retirement from boxing to concentrate on his new promotional company, Mayweather Promotions.
Number One/Numéro Uno
He returned to the ring 15 months later to face Juan Manuel Márquez on September 19, 2009. In a masterful display, winning all twelve rounds on one judge’s scorecard, Floyd won a lopsided decision.
Floyd moved to 40 – 0 thanks to ringcraft like this wonderful example.
“The most highly anticipated welterweight matchup since Sugar Ray Leonard stopped Thomas Hearns in the 14th round in 1981.”
In his only fight of 2010, Mayweather took on former fighter of the year ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley.
Sugar stunned Mayweather with two right-hand shots in the second round.
“Money” was in serious trouble (many would say for the first time in his career). He tried to smile off the first blow but took another massive one seconds later.
Mosley kept the unprecedented heat on him, but Mayweather withstood the pressure and remained upright. Money won by a ten point margin on all three scorecards, showing that while he is indeed hittable, he has the chin to endure the rare occasions when his mazy defence is breached.
“I Wish I Was 50 Years Younger”
On June 7, 2011, Mayweather won the WBC Welterweight title after knocking out southpaw ‘Vicious’ Victor Ortiz in the fourth round, under rather auspicious circumstances. The referee motioned the fighters back together to resume the fight after Ortiz was docked a point for a foul. The fighters touched gloves and Mayweather seemed to half-heartedly return a hug from Ortiz. Then, with the referee looking away as the fighters separated from the embrace, Mayweather caught Ortiz twice – knocking out his foe.
The recurring Mayweather trend of central ring dominance while being more vulnerable on the ropes was yet again evident here.
The night may well be best remembered for this amusing row.
Renowned for his trash talk and hyperbolic nature, Floyd offered his next opponent, Miguel Cotto, the peak of respect – showing the high regard that the Puerto Rican is held in.
In a brusing bout, Floyd claimed Cotto’s WBA (Super) Light Middleweight belt in a unanimous decision victory, with scores of 118-110 and two 117-111’s.
Incarceration & The Ghost
After his victory over Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather began serving a county jail sentence on June 1 2012, after being convicted of assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Having received about 30 days off his 90-day jail sentence for work time and good behaviour, Floyd was released from prison in August. It would be a further nine months before he would fight again.
He would face the WBC interim welterweight champion, Ring #3 ranked welterweight, and the WBC’s mandatory challenger Robert Guerrero. Floyd took some flack for his fighting style on the way to a comfortable majority decision – taking the advice of his father: “the less you get hit, the longer you last”, eliciting boos from the crowd as a result of this defensive strategy.
In a fight billed as “The One”, Floyd next faced young Mexican Saúl ‘Canelo’ Álvarez. An extraordinary young man, Canelo turned professional at just 15 years of age, and at 23 coming into the Mayweather fight, he already had 43 professional fights – just one less than his opponent who was 13 years his elder.
The shine was taken off a commanding Mayweather victory by Judge C. J. Ross, who scored the fight a draw. Judge Ross retired after the fight.
The bout did 2.2 million buys (the second highest buy-rate to date) as the ‘Money’ machine went into overdrive – Mayweather topped the Forbes and Sports Illustrated lists of the 50 highest-paid athletes in both 2012 and 2013.
Floyd’s 2014 consisted of 24 rounds against Argentinian Marcos Maidana. Many believe the first bout was the fight that Floyd Mayweather has come closest to losing, with one judge scoring it as a draw. ‘Money’ won the WBA (Super) Welterweight title in a majority decision, but the competitive nature of the fight justified a rematch.
Floyd would go on to beat the Argentinian in the rematch four months later in September by a wider margin, reasserting his dominance in what was, at times, a brilliant counter punching display.
TBE (The Best Ever)?
47 have tried and 47 have failed to to knock ‘Money’ Mayweather off his lofty perch, but his biggest challenge lies ahead.
Now worth roughly $300 million, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is officially set to finally face Manny Pacquiao, after negotiations spread over a number of years and fraught with controversy, on May 2nd.