Floyd Mayweather: Nineteen Years, One Excuse

Manny Pacquiao, outpointed by Mayweather on May 2nd, recently underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, the shoulder injury which he blamed for his defeat, infuriating Mayweather to say, “I’ve lost all respect for him”, and brand him a “coward”. “I’m not going to buy into the bulls***, and I don’t want the public to buy into the bulls***”.

“Nineteen years in the fight game and I’ve had one excuse: don’t have an excuse. Winners win and losers have excuses”, Mayweather recently stated on Instagram.

One excuse: don’t have an excuse? Mayweather was understandably irritated by Pacquiao’s “excuse” after having finally secured a victory over his eternal nemesis, but that’s not the “one excuse” I recall Floyd making throughout his nineteen year professional career. Ironically, the one I remember sounds rather familiar.

On the night of April 20th 2002, a twenty five year old Floyd Mayweather squared off against Jose Luis Castillo for the Mexican’s WBC Lightweight belt at the MGM Grand casino, Las Vegas. Although moving up in weight, Mayweather was the favourite, and during the early rounds he managed to keep the fight at a distance, outboxing his bigger foe. From the mid-rounds onwards Castillo began to cut the ring off with more success, digging hard shots to the body, and he took control of the fight, using calculated, relentless aggression. Harold Lederman, scoring the fight for HBO had Castillo the winner by 115/111. Dan Rafael of USA Today had it even at 114/114.

The judges that mattered had it 116/111, 115/111 and 115/111 for the American. The crowd in attendance expressed their disgust, booing the announcement of the scorecards. Interestingly, CompuBox statistics, which were used as the stamp of authenticity in proving that Mayweather outpointed Pacquiao, indicated that Castillo had landed over twice as many power punches as Floyd. Of total punches landed, the Mexican was also ahead, with two hundred and three for Jose, and just one hundred and fifty seven for Floyd.

An immediate rematch followed, and despite another tough fight, Mayweather demonstrated he was the superior fighter this time, winning a close points decision, without controversy. Floyd continued his career, remaining unbeaten and establishing himself as quite possibly the greatest fighter of the last fifteen years.

Immediately after Mayweather had been declared the winner in his first fight with Castillo, Larry Merchant was there to interview Pretty Boy Floyd. In light of recent events the post fight interview is definitely worth revisiting:

Merchant: You went out in the last two rounds with instructions from your trainer, your uncle Roger, which he said you had to stand and fight him. Were you under the impression that the fight was very close at that time and you had to pull it out?

Mayweather: I tore my rotator cuff in my left shoulder so I wasn’t able to use my jab like I wanted to. My left wasn’t as strong as I wanted it to be. And I don’t want to have no excuses like, you know, like, other champions when they get hurt, they don’t even show up to the fight, well I get hurt and I keep fighting.

Merchant: Was he much tougher than you anticipated?

Mayweather: What you’ve got to realise is that I beat this guy with a messed up arm. My arm was messed up. But I ain’t have no excuses.

Merchant: So it was a harder fight that what you anticipated?
Mayweather: With one arm, yes.