It was complete domination. For the entire duration of their highly-anticipated showdown, Floyd Mayweather Jr. used his speed and defense to thoroughly outclass previously unbeaten Diego Corrales. When it was over, Corrales had been knocked down five times in less than ten rounds, the only times in his career that he had touched the canvas. While the fight failed to generate even a fraction of the excitement that was expected, it was nonetheless a dazzling showcase for Mayweather, Jr.
Diego Corrales looked dead at 130 lbs. He failed to make weight on his first attempt, scaling two pounds over the junior lightweight limit. An hour later, after some downtime in a sauna, Corrales made the weight. By the time the bout began, Corrales had rehydrated to the tune of 146 lbs., although some of that weight could be attributed to a large club sandwich Corrales was seen scarfing in his dressing room a few hours before fight time. Once the fight began, Corrales appeared lethargic and later in the bout, his skinny legs frequently buckled under Mayweather's pinpoint accuracy.
The first round established the vast superiority of Floyd Mayweather's handspeed. Launching quick jabs and leaping in with lead rights, Mayweather was able to pop Corrales seemingly at will. Although Mayweather moved from side to side in between his single-punch bursts, Corrales had no problem cutting off the ring. Time and again, Mayweather found himself trapped in a corner, with a much larger Corrales moving in for some offense. But every time Corrales would let his hands go, Mayweather would simply duck and weave, tie Corrales up, or spin out to center ring. Corrales was lucky to catch a few scant body shots in these corner exchanges, his only landed blows of the round.
After the first round ended, Floyd Mayweather, Sr., exiled to the front row, shouted to his estranged son "Keep this up and we'll have him out of here in 8 or 9 rounds." He was one round off. Mayweather, Jr. could be seen leaning through the ropes to catch his father's unsolicited advice... and he followed it. Mayweather simply continued along at the exact same pace for the entire fight, and sure enough Corrales slowly broke down.
Official PunchStat numbers tallied only 60 landed blows for Corrales after 10 rounds of action... and that number might have been a bit high. Corrales was unable to find Mayweather all night. In every round, Corrales followed Mayweather's movement closely, keeping the pressure on. But his pressure was almost never accompanied by thrown punches. Corrales may not have thrown a single punch at center ring all evening, opting to save his limited offense for those times that he trapped Mayweather in a corner, or on the ropes. But he just couldn't land. Meanwhile, Mayweather was tattooing him.
Pretty Boy Floyd only occasionally unleashed the four and five punch combinations that brought him to the spotlight several years ago, but he didn't need to. Over and over, he simply launched his crisp, quick punches at Corrales. More than half the time, he landed clean. Corrales was mostly unfazed by Mayweather's power, but the constant abuse swelled his face and wore him out. Mayweather was conscious to work the body, and by the mid rounds was fluidly mixing in liver shots with his hooks and crosses.
By the sixth round, Corrales' frustration had grown while his knees had weakened. Although Corrales landed his best punch of the night in the sixth - a counter left hook that drew a grin from Mayweather - his fatigue was getting the better of him. Mayweather's shots bounced off Corrales' head prior to the sixth, but now his laser-guided bombs began swiveling Corrales' head.
The seventh was a nightmare for Corrales. Moments after the bell to begin the round, Mayweather leaped at Corrales Roy Jones-style with a lead left hook. Corrales ate the punch and dropped immediately to his hands and knees. He got up and beat the count, but looked weak. Mayweather attacked when the fight resumed, and Corrales got in a good shot while Mayweather flurried on him. But a minute later, Mayweather caught Corrales with yet another flush lead hook, and this one made Corrales sit down. Corrales again rose, his legs looking even more frail. Mayweather flurried again, finally trapping Corrales in a corner for a change. Referee Richard Steele looked on the verge of stopping the bout when Corrales went down for a third time. It was unclear if Corrales wilted under Mayweather's barrage, or if he consciously tried to take a knee to halt the flurry... but he was down again. When he got up, he appeared clear-headed, and Steele let the fight continue... but the bell sounded to save Corrales from further abuse. Judges are reluctant to score a round lower than 10-7 in a three knockdown round... but a 10-6 could have been justified given the completely one-sided action.
Believe it or not, Corrales had his best round in the eighth, although he lost that round, too. Fighting with more desperation, Corrales threw sustained punches for the first half of the round, but only a single left hook landed. The rest caught nothing but air. Mayweather easily tucked his chin behind his shoulder and slipped the incoming. These misses amounted to the final Corrales effort, as the missing seemed to only tire him out more, and he rarely threw another punch all night.
After a ninth round that saw Corrales follow Floyd around without throwing, Mayweather put an end to the contest in the tenth. Halfway through that round, he again popped Corrales with a short left hook. Corrales' knees buckled, although he looked coherent. As Richard Steele counted, Corrales consciously stayed down on one knee until 8, after which he popped up and was allowed to continue. Mayweather calmly continued his speedy assault, and a moment later, a straight right hand landed on Corrales' chin. Corrales' legs were gone, and the punch made him genuflect in place, his knees touching the canvas before he popped back up to a standing position. Corrales cursed himself, frustrated that his body could not do what he wanted. He was awake, unhurt, and extremely frustrated. But his corner had seen enough.
As Richard Steele reached the count of five, Corrales began shouting "No! No! No! No!" His father/trainer was on the ring apron holding a towel. He was calling the fight. Steele didn't see the forfeit, and might have accidentally let the bout continue had Corrales not protested and ran to the corner. But as soon as Steele saw the situation, he waved the bout over. Mayweather KO10.
Corrales (now 33-1/27) was livid, repeatedly demanding "What the fuck are you doing?!" He had a point. He was on his feet in a championship contest. His head was clear, even though his legs could barely keep him up. His father, having warned Corrales repeatedly that he would stop the bout if Corrales didn't throw more punches, wasn't concerned with how Corrales looked at the time. He was thinking about the future. Corrales will live to fight another day... if his out-of-the-ring legal troubles don't send him to the big house for an extended layoff.
For his part, Mayweather was in tears. Minutes after the bout, he could be seen bawling on the shoulder of his father, as the two tightly embraced. It seemed like a conclusive reconciliation. Little Floyd showed his love for his father, just as Papa Floyd seemed to accept that he could no longer work with his son. Although they are unlikely to reunite professionally, father and son seem well on the path to clearing up their famous acrimony.
After the fight, Diego Corrales was devastated. In post-fight interviews, he swayed between anger and depression, fighting hard to keep from breaking down. Corrales' future is uncertain. If he can avoid a prison sentence, which is by no means a given, he will find plenty of money fights in the divisions above 130. At 6'1", he could probably still be the strongest fighter at 140, and he might even opt to pay the mostly-empty welterweight division a visit. But that is a long way off. Corrales was so confused at his corner's reaction, that he couldn't even commit to continuing his career. Time will likely change his viewpoint on retirement... again, if he remains a free man.
And what about Floyd Mayweather? This was an all-star outing. Corrales refused to even suggest that the struggle to make 130 had hampered his effort, despite prodding from the press. As such, Mayweather (a perfect 25-0/19) reaps full credit for breaking down a fighter that was considered his equal before the bout. Mayweather looked a lot like Roy Jones, Jr. this night. His handspeed so vastly outmatched Corrales' that most of the bout looked downright easy. And like Jones, Mayweather has a tendency to get caught hanging around in the corners. Neither Jones nor Mayweather ever takes much punishment in these lapses of footwork, a testament to the both champion's awesome defense.
Mayweather sits atop the junior lightweight division, where it looks as though he can stay as long as he likes. He expressed interest in fighting the Casamayor-Freitas winner... a bout that could net him three championship belts. Mayweather would be heavily favored over either. And while Floyd drooled over the chances of luring Naseem Hamed into the ring, he may have to move up to 135 to find more of the paydays his G-Money lifestyle demands. Despite a rocky two years of infrequent fighting and constant distractions, Mayweather's career seems back on track. HBO is set to offer Floyd a six-fight, $15 million deal. Let's hope he signs it this time.
On the undercard, WBC lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo duked it out with former champion Cesar Bazan for five and half rounds before ending the bout. The two Mexican fighters fought the entire bout at a steady, vicious pace. Like two familiar sparring partners, they traded punches for most of the bout. Bazan struck first, landing his long right hand several times in the opening round. He also landed two vicious headbutts, and more than a few forearms across Castillo's face.
But Castillo applied intense pressure, always staying right in front of Bazan. The second through fourth rounds were all evenly contested. Castillo worked the body while Bazan landed some big counters with his long arms. By the fifth, both men sported badly swollen left eyelids. Castillo added a cut on the right cheek, while Bazan's entire face seemed to be changing shape. Then, in a flash, Castillo countered with a beautiful left hook that dropped Bazan hard onto the seat of his pants. Bazan violently shook his head to clear the cobwebs, and when the fight continued, he wasted no time in nailing Castillo with a stunning left hook of his own. This only intensified the action, as both men stood toe-to-toe for the final twenty seconds of the round. The crowd leapt to their feet as the bell sounded to end the frame.
The heated action continued in the sixth, with both men giving as good as they got. But as Bazan dipped low on a Castillo feint, the champion smashed Bazan's face with a perfectly timed left uppercut. The punch sent Bazan toppling over backwards onto his shoulders, nearly causing him to perform a back somersault on the canvas. This time when Bazan rose, he was less attentive to the referee... who nonetheless was convinced Bazan could continue. Castillo attacked after this knockdown, battering Bazan on the ropes. Referee Vince Drakulich looked on closely, but Bazan was firing back. Then, mid flurry, Castillo landed a crunching counter right hand flush upside Bazan's head. Bazan managed to throw two feeble punches in an answer as Drakulich now leapt in to stop the fight. It was a bizarre stoppage, and one that drew boos from the crowd. Although Bazan was in trouble, and the telling blow rocked him to the tip of his toes... he was still on his feet, and still trying to throw punches. The finishing blow was a single punch, and had Drakulich not stepped in, Bazan may have been able to make it out of the round. After all, there were less than 10 seconds remaining.
But Bazan protested only a little, and NSAC chairman Marc Ratner could be seen applauding the stoppage. Bazan was hurt, had been down twice, and was taking punishment... but in a championship fight, the challenger deserves the opportunity to keep fighting if he's on his feet and throwing punches. Since Bazan's corner was not on the apron as was Corrales', some scrutiny must be applied to Drakulich's stoppage... no matter how inevitable the outcome may have been.
Overall, this was not the greatest night of fights... and certainly the main event came nowhere close to matching the expected intensity. Mayweather-Corrales was billed as "The War," but it was anything but. Still, Mayweahter's impressive performance and Jose Luis Castillo's concussive power have helped boost the stock of both fighters. There are still challenges for both men in and around the lightweight divisions. Let's hope that 2001 produces a few more of them.
ROUND 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 TOTAL MAYWEATHER 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 KO
CORRALES 9 9 9 9 9 9 7 9 9
ROUND 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 TOTAL CASTILLO 9 10 9 10 10 KO
BAZAN 10 9 10 9 8