In this edition of Classic Bouts, we look back on Floyd Mayweather’s dominant win over the late, great Diego Corrales in 2001.
Long before the days of ‘Money’ Mayweather, a young and hungry ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd was making a name for himself at 130lbs – showing a lethal attack, unmatched speed and the defensive skills he would later perfect to their fullest as he aged.
Contrary to what he would display in his later career, the younger Mayweather was a pretty potent finisher as well. Amassing 16 KO’s in his perfect 24-0 career to that point, his volume and vicious body work – when coupled with his lighting fast reflexes – made him a nightmare for all of his 24 opponents up until then but with Diego Corrales in front of him, many experts in the sport had predicted that he would finally meet his maker.
Corrales came into this fight with a proven back catalogue as an absolute wrecking ball.
33-0 with 28 KO’s, he was the larger man of the two and while the analysts were split down the middle with their picks – many were supremely confident that Chico’s size and power would be enough to break through the elusive Mayweather’s defense.
“I’ve seen the ‘Pretty Boy’ training in Phoenix and he’s more talk than walk. They say that ‘Chico’ hasn’t yet fought a Mayweather, well, I assure you Floyd has never been in with a Corrales” – Rick Farris, The CBZ
“Mayweather has the handspeed and the boxing skills to easily outpoint Corrales. Unfortunately for Floyd, he’ll have to feed his overinflated ego by trying to coming out strong. When he tries, Corrales will punish him severly. Corrales KO Rd 6.” – Chris Bushnell, BoxingChronicle.com
“How can Corrales not be the big favourite? I have to go with Corrales. Can Mayweather win? Not really; his only chance is to run and pitty-pat jab all night. I don’t think he can do that, so my prediction is as follows: Corrales will beat down Mayweather within 6 rounds and it ain’t going to be pretty.” – Mike DeLisa
Of course, every time Floyd fights there will always be those in the sport’s community who see his opponent as the one who will finally dethrone him.
Here, however, in the early stages of his still-blossoming career, the challenge that was laid out in front of this clearly-talented 23-year-old made many peg this fight as a fantastic stylistic matchup and a very close fight on paper.
When the fight actually went down in the MGM Grand Garden Arena that night, what transpired proved exactly how special a fighter Floyd Mayweather really was.
Making his foe looks like an utter novice, ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd battered Chico for ten rounds, mixing up deft jabs to the head and body with some beautiful short hooks that – when coupled with his slick defensive movement – exposed the more one-dimensional approach of Corrales on the world stage.
As he aged, Mayweather accepted his slowing reflexes and diminished speed with grace and adapted his style into the more conservative one that most are familiar with but make no mistake, when he was in his youth – and some would argue his athletic prime – he showed exactly how technical and vicious a finisher he could be.
Of course, he would go on to achieve his perfect 50-0 record, establishing himself as the greatest boxer of his generation before eventually hanging up his gloves in 2017.
Diego Corrales would fight on eleven more occasions, going 7-4, before tragically dying in a three-vehicle collision near his home in Las Vegas in 2007. He was 29-years-old at the time and finished his boxing career with an overall record of 40-5.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena