When it comes to picking the peak performance, the career-finest ring display of the greats, it’s often a pretty easy job. With Muhammad Ali, people point to his flawless display against Cleveland Williams. With Sugar Ray Leonard, people point to his epic win over Thomas Hearns. With Roberto Duran, people point to his brilliant win over Leonard. With Bernard Hopkins, people point to his dismantling of Felix Trinidad. And on the list of greatest performances from the great ones goes.
So what was Floyd Mayweather’s finest ever performance? For some, this is a tougher question to answer. Some fans might point to Mayweather’s schooling of Canelo Alvarez, others to his dull but wide decision win over Manny Pacquiao. While others still might point to “Money’s” big win over Ricky Hatton. But to plenty of fans/experts/fellow fighters, Mayweather’s ruthless and incredibly impressive stoppage win over an unbeaten Diego Corrales is the one.
It was 20 years ago today when a 23-year-old Mayweather, still known by the “Pretty Boy” nickname, took on a 23-year-old “Chico” in Las Vegas. Mayweather, the defending WBC 130 pound champion, was 24-0. Corrales, a freakishly tall super-featherweight, was spotless at 33-0. Plenty of people expected a classic, while some people felt Corrales would defeat Mayweather. What fans witnessed on the evening of January 20, 2001 was a masterclass.
Mayweather, back then wanting knockouts and often getting them, gave Corrales a beating. Looking pretty indeed, Floyd used his fast hands, his razor-sharp reflexes and his God-given boxing brain to fine effect. Five times in total, Corrales went down, with only his raw courage and utter refusal to accept defeat keeping him in the fight. It was as one-sided as could be, especially for a fight plenty of people had felt would be a close, hard fought affair. Diego never won a single round.
Finally, after the fifth knockdown, this coming in round-ten, Chico’s corner threw in the towel. Corrales, ever the warrior, was furious. But hindsight is a wonderful thing and, looking back now, Corrales was saved for another day (his great moment coming against common opponent Jose Luis Castillo; the Mexican fighter twice battling Mayweather and Corrales).
Mayweather was now, in the opinion of so many people, the pound-for-pound best in the sport. As we know, Mayweather went on to bag big wins over the likes of, Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah, Oscar De La hoya, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Sugar Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Canelo and Pacquiao. Floyd also captured further world titles at higher weights. However, for plenty of people, Mayweather never again shone as brightly as he did the night he hammered Corrales. And of course, nobody ever managed to defeat Floyd.
Sadly, as his many millions of fans know only too well, Diego was killed at the age of just 29, in a motorbike crash in May of 2007.