LAS VEGAS — It was back in May of 2004 that a fiesty Floyd Mayweather Jr., having vacated his WBC lightweight belt, debuted in the junior welterweight against left-handed former 140-pound beltholder DeMarcus Corley at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
“The game plan for the fight was to make Floyd exchange with me because we knew that we were stronger than Floyd at 140. That was his first fight coming up to 140 pounds, and he had hand speed that I couldn’t match,” recalls Corley, now 38.
“Floyd had come into the fight trying to prove a point, that, coming up to 140, he could take on the best 140-pound fighters that were out there. So he was exchanging with me, so, the way that I figured I could try to neutralize his hand speed was to try to exchange with him. So when he fired, I fired.”
After three rounds of scintillating, give-and-take action, Corley rocked Mayweather with a flush shot in the fourth round, and then, followed Mayweather to the ropes to deliver further punishment.
“What I hit him with was what some people call a curve ball,” said Corley. “You throw it like it’s a right hook, because it doesn’t come straight, it comes around the side of his glove.”
Mayweather recovered, adjusted, and floored Corley once each in the eighth and 10th rounds of a unanimous decision victory, much as he overcame some treacherous moments early in his April 2006 welterweight bout with Zab Judah.
“One thing is that Zab and I are both southpaws, but the difference between me and Zab is that Zab has the speed, that was pretty much matching Floyd’s hand speed. Zab doesn’t have the power that I had. We both caught him with a great shot that stunned him,” said Corley.
“But it didn’t have the same power that I had when I exchanged with him. If you’re going to catch Floyd and hurt him, that’s the only way that you’re going to catch him is to exchange with him. You’re not going to hurt Floyd with a lucky punch. You’ve got to catch him in the mix.”
On Saturday night, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Mayweather (43-0, 26 knockouts) will return to the ring against yet another southpaw in Robert Guerrero (31-1-1, 18 KOs), who will be after his 16th consecutive victory on Showtime Pay Per View.
It is based largely on the efforts of Corley and Judah against Mayweather, that Guerrero has expressed confidence that he can be the first man to defeat Mayweather.
“Definitely the southpaw style gives him trouble,” said Guerrero. “If DeMarcus Corley and Zab Judah don’t get tired, they’re winning those fights. I believe that.”
But Corley is not in agreement with Guerrero, who is coming off consecutive unanimous decision victories over Selcuk Aydin and former two-time beltholder Andre Berto in July and November, respectively.
“Oh my goodness, Guerrero has no similarities to me and Zab. Not at all. He has nothing in common with either of us guys other than that he’s a southpaw. He don’t have no style, he don’t have no skill. All he has is winning any way he can. Dirty punches, rabbit punches. He’s just a dirty tactics fighter. I think that it’s the skills that the fighter brings to the table that Floyd makes adjustments to,” said Corley.
“But Guerrero doesn’t have the skills that Zab has or that I have as a southpaw, and, the experience that we have. Guerrero don’t know how to box. He don’t know how to set punches up or set a trap for a fighter. All he wants to do is just throw punches and hit you below the belt, on the cup, on your head, on your neck. He doesn’t care where he hits you at, and that’s going to be the game plan for Guerrero to just rough Floyd up. Elbow him, and do whatever he can to try to cause the fight to be a real brutal fight for Floyd.”
Will Guerrero’s strategy be successful?
“Not at all. The scenario for the fight with Floyd and Guerrero is that Floyd’s going to come out with an up-tempo beat. He’s going to fight Guerrero at the pace that Guerrero is going to start out fighting at. And then, Floyd’s going to make adjustments around the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds, and he’s going to dictate the tempo throughout the fight after that, because he’s going to see that Guerrero can’t fight the style that Floyd has. He’s going to make adjustments to Guerrero’s fighting that rough fight and that rough pace,” said Corley.
“And then, he’s going to change the momentum and break Guerrero down with certain punches that he’s going to throw. Then, you’re going to see a different fight. In the end, you’re going to see the old Floyd that you always see. I think that if Floyd puts the combinations together, he can stop him in the 10th round. If Floyd wants to taunt him and carry him, then he’ll win by decision. I don’t see why Floyd is fighting him, bottom line. The fight don’t make no sense. Guerrero is not the person that Floyd should be fighting next. Who has he beaten really, besides Andre Berto?”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com