Whaddya know … Floyd Mayweather Jr. is human after all.
Though he often resembled a money-fueled robot while clinically dismantling foes across four weight divisions, the now-45-year-old was reduced to tears – real ones – over the weekend.
Those who were fans were no doubt moved by his authenticity as he earned the sport’s ultimate prize for a 21-year career in which he never lost and was rarely in real peril.
Those who loathed him were probably surprised he had the capacity for actual emotion.
Whether you genuflect or recoil upon hearing his “The Best Ever” mantra, there’s no denying his accomplishments and there’s no arguing a plaque in Canastota is worthy recognition.
Simply seeing Mayweather’s name on a fight-related marquee sent the Tuesday team to waxing nostalgic about his two-decade career – from which he retired 50-0 – and winnowing his highlights down to a manageable list of best moments.
Here’s our take on Money’s Top Five:
5. Mauling McGregor
It would’ve been hard to concoct a more caustic press tour and more circus-like fight-night atmosphere on fight night than professional bout No. 50 against MMA fire-starter Conor McGregor.
The verbal haymakers came at Ward-Gatti pace through the run-up and the actual fight at T-Mobile Arena was somewhat compelling for about three rounds before Mayweather began imposing his will.
It went into the 10th round before the spent Irishman was rescued by Robert Byrd, but the most important victory came later, when Showtime said the fight generated 4.3 million buys and better than $600 million in revenue – both second all-time for boxing events.
4. Clobbering Corrales
Somehow, this was more than 20 years ago. In fact, it occurred on the same January 2001 day that George W. Bush was inaugurated in Washington, D.C.
Then 23, Mayweather was defending his first pro title at 130 pounds, while Corrales was on his way to 135 but lingered for a duel of unbeatens.
Considering he had won 27 of 33 bouts by stoppage, Corrales was perceived as the puncher. But his power was nullified by a difficult weight cut and Mayweather's other-worldly precision, which resulted in five knockdowns before the Corrales' corner team surrendered on his behalf.
"I'm terribly impressed," analyst Harold Lederman said on the HBO broadcast. "I don't think I've seen an exhibition of boxing like this since Willie Pep. This kid is unbelievable, great legs, great speed, unbelievable ring generalship. I mean he's got tremendous presence in that ring."
Mayweather defended twice more in 2001 before making his own climb to lightweight. Corrales, meanwhile, was 7-4 in his final 11 bouts, including additional reigns as champion at 130 and 135, before dying in a motorcycle crash in 2007.
3. Confounding Canelo
Newer fight fans might not realize it was Mayweather, by then 36 and in his 45th fight, who snatched the 0 from the record of today's most recognizable pay-per-view commodity.
Alvarez was a precocious 23 and had yet to deliver on the promises of his promotional hype machine, but he still presented a worthy challenge in a weight class where Mayweather had only dabbled.
A nine-day press tour covered 10 cities and drew crowds that largely favored the Mexican star at nearly every stop, but once the action commenced in Las Vegas, the veteran was simply too sharp and too elusive. Mayweather won 9-3 and 8-4 margins on two cards that overrode a ridiculous 6-6 from CJ Ross.
The 2.2 million pay-per-view buys were second all-time at that point.
2. Outfoxing Oscar
Sometimes the loathing is for promotional purposes. And sometimes it's real.
When Mayweather met Oscar De La Hoya in history's best-selling pay-per-view fight (at the time), the enmity between the men was as genuine as could be.
Mayweather had played second fiddle to the Golden Boy during their days at Top Rank and longed for a chance to eclipse his rival. He embraced the villain's role and mocked De La Hoya's heritage on fight night by wearing a sombrero and a robe with Mexico's colors.
The fight was more sporadic than spectacular, but Mayweather was precise and busy enough down the stretch to earn two cards by 8-4 and 7-5 margins. The third card, a 7-5 for De La Hoya's favor from Tom Kaczmarek, was the only one that went against Mayweather in his 23 career distance fights.
On 69 career scorecards, he was 66-1-2 – with Kaczmarek’s 7-5, Ross’s 6-6 against Alvarez and Michael Pernick’s 6-6 in the first Marcos Maidana fight providing the only blemishes.
As for the financials, it drew 2.4 million PPV buys and raked in $136 million.
Nice work if you can get it.
1. Punching Pac Man
They shared space in the same weight class for seven years, occupied prime spots atop pound-for-pound lists and kept media types busy with teases whenever the mood struck them.
But finally, on the first Saturday of May in 2015, they were in the ring together.
Mayweather's match with Manny Pacquiao was the boxing event of a generation, pitting a 47-0 five-division champ against an international star who’d stockpiled belts since his days as a flyweight.
It was front-page news for mainstream and boxing-centric outlets worldwide, and memorable fight-night images included a parking lot of private jets on the road leading to the MGM Grand.
Similar to the De La Hoya blockbuster, the fight itself was something of an anticlimax, with Mayweather skillfully eluding prolonged exchanges and pot-shotting his way to 8-4, 8-4 and 10-2 verdicts.
Pacquiao claimed a balky shoulder in the aftermath and pined for a rematch, but it never came.
Mayweather retired after whipping Andre Berto four months later and came back for the final act against McGregor before recently throwing his hat into the exhibition ring. The Filipino kept going into 2021 and had won five of six before retiring after a loss to Yordenis Ugas.
Even as a one-off it was good for 4.6 million buys and a $600 million take, setting the bar high for the next generation.
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
IBF-WBC-WBO light heavyweight titles – New York, New York
Artur Beterbiev (IBF-WBC /No. 1 IWBR) vs. Joe Smith Jr. (WBO/No. 2 IWBR)
Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KO): Sixth IBF title defense; Eighty-one rounds in 17 fights (4.76 average)
Smith (28-3, 22 KO): Second WBO title defense; Twentieth fight in New York (17-2, 13 KO)
Fitzbitz says: I hope it’s as good a fight as it feels like it should be going in. Smith can punch, and that’s always good, but it feels like Beterbiev is just better. Beterbiev in 8 (80/20)
Last week's picks: 2-0 (WIN: Inoue, Kyoguchi)
2022 picks record: 16-7 (69.5 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,225-399 (75.4 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.