Say what you want about Floyd Mayweather Jr., but the brash and flashy American boxer is one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport. You don’t have to like him. But if you call yourself a fan of boxing, you have to respect him and what he’s done with his career.
The man they call “Money” is a master tactician. Mayweather broke down opponents in the ring, nullifying their most dangerous weapons, and then picked them apart with his superior skill and laserlike precision. There was no style he couldn’t decipher. And as he likes to say, “50 have tried, and 50 have failed.” He has a perfect 50-0 record, and only a couple of fighters have ever gotten close to beating him.
Mayweather may not be the most exciting fighter ever, but those who love the actual ‘sweet science’ can appreciate his technical proficiency and the way he operates in the ring. It’s like poetry in motion.
Mayweather is also not known for his willingness to put his body on the line to entertain the fans. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have memorable fights. It just takes a higher level of appreciation for the technicality of boxing to enjoy Mayweather’s particular style.
Let’s take a look at a handful of Mayweather’s most memorable performances. Today, Evolve Daily shares five Floyd Mayweather fights that will never be forgotten.
1) vs. Oscar De La Hoya (May 5, 2007)
Before Mayweather became the Box Office king, another man held the throne — Mexican-American boxing icon, “The Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya.
De La Hoya was once boxing’s biggest star. He commanded the biggest paydays. Whenever he fought, it was a massive event, no matter who stood across from him in the ring. When Mayweather met De La Hoya in 2007, “Money” was just starting his rise to superstardom. It turns out, his win over De La Hoya was the catalyst that launched his stock into the upper echelon.
Taking place on Cinco de Mayo weekend, Mayweather walked out to the ring in flamboyant Mexican garb. It was clear that Mayweather had a knack for showmanship, and he had the platform to really raise his profile with millions of rabid Mexican boxing fans willing to spend their hard-earned money on Pay-Per-View to watch the fight. Before he even stepped foot in the ring with De La Hoya, Mayweather already knew he was in for a record payday.
Mayweather defeated De La Hoya by split decision after 12 rounds, and took a $25 million check all the way to the bank.
2) vs. Zab Judah (April 8, 2006)
This fight was memorable for a number of reasons. One, it was a showdown between two talented welterweights with similar skill sets. “Super” Zab Judah was the southpaw boxer-puncher while Mayweather played the role of stylish technician.
The two had talked up a storm before meeting in the ring. For the hardcore fans who were emotionally invested in their rivalry and were interested in seeing how the two styles clashed, this was a very big fight.
The second reason is that, near the end of the 10th round and perhaps out of frustration, Judah hit Mayweather with an illegal punch to the groin, and followed it up with a shot to the back of the head. Mayweather’s corner didn’t like that one bit, and soon, Mayweather’s uncle Roger and longtime advisor Leonard Ellerbe entered the ring to confront Judah. Within seconds, it was absolute pandemonium, and there were about 20 people rioting in the ring.
Surprisingly, things calmed down as law enforcement took control of the scuffle. Take note that the fight wasn’t over at this point, and there were two rounds left in the contest. Even more surprisingly, they allowed the fight to continue in spite of the fiasco. Mayweather cruised the rest of the way, beating Judah by unanimous decision.
3) vs. Marcos Maidana I (May 3, 2014)
Mayweather faced one of the toughest challenges in his entire career when he met hard-hitting Argentinian Marcos “El Chino” Maidana.
At the time, Maidana was a highly regarded opponent who possessed the characteristics Mayweather’s biggest critics thought were necessary to beat him. Maidana was relentless and wasn’t afraid to get hit. He was the kind of guy who always kept moving forward, forcing his opponents to fold under pressure, and he was successful with that style to some degree.
Mayweather was evidently bothered by Maidana’s no-frills offense. Maidana attacked the body with a variety of punches, and troubled Mayweather with roughhouse tactics. Though his defense was certainly on point, you could tell the pressure was getting to Mayweather.
However, Mayweather was a master strategist. He had the ability to make mid-fight adjustments that would serve as solutions to problems opponents posed in the ring. By the sixth round, Mayweather had Maidana figured out, and began picking him apart. Any threats prevalent in the first five rounds were neutralized.
Maidana did well enough that the bout resulted in a majority decision, but it was clear Mayweather’s defense and precision were too much for “El Chino.”
4) vs. Miguel Cotto (May 5, 2012)
The “Boricua bomber”, Miguel Cotto, got his crack at Mayweather in 2012. Although Cotto was considered past his prime by the time the bout took place, the fight turned out as exciting as any. Fans can definitely argue that Cotto was the toughest test in Mayweather’s storied career.
Cotto was a live threat early, forcing Mayweather back with his trademark left hook while digging at his body. The pressure coming from the Puerto Rican was intense, as Cotto kept on the inside for the first few rounds. However, as the bout wore on, Mayweather began to find his rhythm and worked behind the jab to stop Cotto’s advances.
By the second half of the fight, Mayweather’s precise punching started to take a toll on Cotto. In the 11th and 12th round, Cotto tried his best to make it a fight but he had nothing left. Mayweather was just too slick and too elusive. He was there and then he was gone. In the end, Cotto had no answer for Mayweather’s dynamic blend of offense and defense, and the latter took home another unanimous decision victory.
5) vs. Manny Pacquiao (May 2, 2015)
Who could ever forget the richest fight in boxing history? Millions of fans around the world waited nearly six years for this fight to materialize. Clamor began as early as 2009, but as fate would have it, Mayweather and Filipino boxing icon Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao would only meet each other in the ring in 2015.
By that time, Pacquiao was on a considerable physical decline. He was slower than he used to be, and his punches lacked the usual pop they were known for. Still, fans wanted to see it happen and they finally got the chance.
The fight garnered a record 4.6 million Pay-Per-View buys which resulted in $600 million in gross revenue, and bagged a $70+ million live gate. Pacquiao received a $120 million guaranteed purse for a single night of action, while Mayweather got $180 million. Both men received upside from digital receipts, adding even more to each fighter’s earned revenue.
However, the fight fans waited years for did not live up to the hype. Mayweather easily took care of business against Pacquiao and cruised to an uneventful unanimous decision victory. Shortly after, Pacquiao revealed he came into the fight with a shoulder injury that affected his performance. The Filipino tried to drum up interest in a rematch, but Mayweather refused to give him one.
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