2. January 20, 2001 – KO 10 Diego Corrales, MGM Grand, Las Vegas
Boxing fans at the time couldn’t have asked for a more scintillating match at 130 than this one. First, the 23-year-old Mayweather was 24-0 (18) and had five defenses under his belt while Corrales boasted an eye-busting 33-0 (27) and four defenses, the last three by KO. Second, the fight pitted Mayweather’s exquisite skill set against Corrales’ extreme height, volume-punching power and never-say-die attitude. Third, the stakes were elevated by the fact that the winner would earn a multi-fight, multi-million dollar contract with HBO while the loser was guaranteed only one more fight with the network. Finally, the two fighters seethed with hate for one another.
Even then, Mayweather knew how to rub salt in wounds. Just 12 days after the fight Corrales would face charges of assault and possession of a gun and felony spousal abuse that eventually led to a prison term. Mayweather declared he would “win the fight for all the battered women” while Corrales vowed he’d win for all the battered fathers, referencing Mayweather’s rift with Floyd Sr.
Corrales required an extra hour to sweat down to 130, but Mayweather’s skills proved a much bigger hindrance. His effortless mobility in both directions set up sharp, singular punches that served to tenderize Corrales’ body for the assault to come. That began in the sixth when he pasted Corrales with lead left hooks, one of which scored a knockdown in the opening moments of the seventh. From that point forward the fight was a rout as Mayweather picked Corrales’ pocket again and again. Mayweather scored two more knockdowns in the final minute of the seventh and decked Corrales twice in the 10th, prompting cornerman Miguel Diaz and stepfather Ray Woods to mercifully intervene.