Floyd Mayweather dominated the sport of boxing for two decades, winning world titles in five separate weight classes and retiring undefeated. Mayweather definitively put his stamp on this generation of boxing by easily defeating fellow future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao in May of 2015. Many boxing fans believed the “Pac Man” would prove to be his kryptonite. However, Mayweather toyed with him as he had so many others over the course of his prolific career. Floyd is the self-proclaimed “Greatest of All-time” and many of his fans stand behind this claim. Others believe he is an over-hyped product of cherry picked opposition. Which version of history is closer to the truth?
We’re going to bring back one of the most feared and respected men in boxing history to find out the answer. Roberto Duran was one of the greatest fighters in boxing history. This man was so vicious it is reputed that he once knocked out a horse. Duran was arguably the greatest lightweight in boxing history and won world titles in four divisions. Many regard him among the top 10 pound for pound fighters who ever lived.
We’ll contest this one at 147 with Mayweather coming off his May 2007 split decision win over Oscar De La Hoya and Duran coming off his spectacular decision victory over Sugar Ray Leonard in June 1980. This fight will be scheduled for 15 rounds, the old school championship distance. So who takes it? “Money” or the “Hands of Stone”?
LET’S SETTLE THIS IN THE RING
Close to 70,000 fans have gathered at Sun Life Stadium in Miami to witness this epic battle for the ages, as undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. faces the toughest test of his career in facing the once-beaten Roberto Duran. The 30 year-old Mayweather comes into tonight’s fight with an impressive undefeated record of 38-0, 25 KOs. However, Duran, at the age of 29, comes in with vastly more experience and an incredible record of 72-1, 56 KOs.
The trash talking has been intense in preparation for this one. At the opening press conference, Mayweather once again pontificates about his greatness…..”Duran, Leonard, Hagler, Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson……..those guys are nothing compared to me. I am the perfect fighter and will prove it once and for all against Duran!” Duran responds by spitting in Mayweather’s face and calling him a series of names which are unrepeatable in any language. He vows to “Bury Mayweather six feet under!”
Fight night has arrived and, on the undercard, Eusebio Pedroza rallies late to secure a 15 round split decision victory over Vasyl Lomachenko. Mayweather-Duran is just minutes away. Duran enters the ring at 11:14 PM Eastern Standard Time to a raucous ovation. After several minutes, Mayweather emerges from his dressing room to a chorus of boos. Duran is clearly the fan favorite on this particular evening. Mayweather is wearing black leather trunks with red trim, while Duran is dressed in white trimmed with red. Both men weighed in at 145 lbs. Floyd enjoys a slight height and reach advantage over the stocky Duran. Referee Mills Lane calls the fighters to the center of the ring and the bell is ready to ring for round one.
Mayweather predictably comes out boxing conservatively, while Duran looks for a way inside. Floyd pecks away with precise punches on the outside as Roberto is simply unable to catch him. The normally busy Duran only throws 17 punches the entire round. The second round features more of the same with Mayweather controlling the pace and distance while Duran chases in futility. Duran sneers in disgust as he returns to the corner.
Duran is enraged as he answers the bell for round 3. However, Mayweather continues to be frustratingly elusive. Duran throws a wild left which Mayweather easily side steps. Mayweather counters with a crisp right to the jaw that brings the crowd to its feet. Mayweather sticks his chin out at Duran as the round comes to a close. Inexplicably Duran backs off in the 4th round and chooses to parry with Mayweather in the center of the ring. This strategy proves to be grossly ineffective as he is still unable to catch the slippery Mayweather while Floyd lands a steady diet of left jabs and crisp right hands. Duran is far from hurt but is incredibly flustered. He screams obscenities at Mayweather exhorting him to stand and fight as the two men return to their respective corners.
Between rounds, Howard Cosell, who is covering the fight via taped, time-warp delay for ABC Sports, opines:
“Duran looks utterly listless tonight. He seems to lack the fire he demonstrated in Montreal just a few short months ago. I never thought I would see the great Roberto Duran so completely flummoxed and utterly over-matched. We appear to be witnessing a travesty and tragedy of epic proportion.”
The bell rings for round 5 and it’s just more of the same. Mayweather is making Duran look foolish. At one point, Mayweather easily slips an overhand right from Duran and Roberto’s momentum nearly causes him to fall through the ropes. Floyd grins as he returns to his corner. Mayweather continues to control the pace and distance in round 6. Duran has a blank look on his face as he just can’t penetrate Mayweather’s airtight defense. Between rounds, Harold Lederman reads his unofficial scorecard and it reads 60-54 for Mayweather. Punch-stat numbers indicate that Mayweather has landed 76 of 191 punches while Duran has connected on just 29 of 201.
Mayweather continues to toy with Duran over the first half of round 7. Finally, with one minute remaining in the round, Roberto moves inside and drills Mayweather with a crushing left to the body. Mayweather tries to hold but Duran follows up with a brutal right to the rib cage. Roberto follows up with a straight right to the jaw which snaps Mayweather’s head back. Duran looks reinvigorated as he returns to his corner. The baleful stare has returned to Roberto Duran’s face as he answers the bell for round 8. Mayweather tries to keep his distance but Duran forces his way inside and shoves Mayweather to the ropes. He focuses almost exclusively on attacking Floyd to the body. Several of Duran’s punches stray below the belt. Mayweather protests to referee Mills Lane who just ignores him. Floyd also spends most of the 9th round with his back to the ropes as Duran mauls him on the inside. Duran is still finding Mayweather’s head to be an elusive target but this doesn’t prevent him from continuing his ferocious body work. Mayweather lands a quick right but Duran just sneers in response. The pro-Duran crowd is on its feet as the round comes to a close.
Mayweather lands a sharp right which catches Duran off balance early in the 10th. Once again, he establishes himself in the center of the ring and works his left jab which has now raised some swelling around Duran’s right eye. By the 11th, Mayweather is once again controlling the pace and distance in the center of the ring while Duran swings and misses fruitlessly. Duran screams at Mayweather once again imploring him to “fight like a man.” Floyd just shakes his head and smiles. A crisp left hook from Mayweather snaps Duran’s head back as the round comes to a close. As the 12th round begins, Duran continues to give chase but is unable trap the elusive Mayweather. Finally, with 1:30 remaining, Duran lands a thunderous left to the body which leaves Mayweather grimacing in pain. Duran forces Mayweather to the ropes and batters him to the body. Once again, Mayweather complains to Lane about low blows. However, Lane just tells him to “shut up and fight.” Floyd seems to be tiring as a result of Duran’s brutal body work and returns to his corner with a troubled look on his face.
Early in the 13th round, Duran traps Mayweather in the neutral corner and pummels him mercilessly. Mayweather tries to fire back put his punches have no effect. Duran lands a vicious left hook followed by a well-placed elbow to Mayweather’s right cheek bone. Mayweather howls in protest and this time Mills Lane takes a point away from Duran. Undaunted, Duran lands a right to the stomach followed by a left hook to the temple that leaves Mayweather reeling along the ropes. The bell saves him from further punishment. In spite of Duran’s late surge, Mayweather still appears to have a solid lead on points as we enter the final six minutes of the fight.
Mayweather is on his bicycle as the bell rings for round 14, while Duran patiently stalks looking for an opening. Floyd manages to avoid trouble over the first half of the round. Finally, Duran finds Mayweather’s chin with a looping overhand jaw. Mayweather’s legs quiver as he reels along the ropes. Floyd tries to hold but Duran follows up with a violent left to the body which lifts Mayweather’s right leg off the canvas. A smashing Duran right to the jaw sends Mayweather to the canvas with just over a minute remaining in the round. Floyd rises at the count of 7 and is badly hurt. From ringside Jim Lampley exclaims, “Floyd Mayweather has never been in this much trouble in his entire fighting career!” Mayweather tries to move out of punching range but Duran is utterly ruthless. He traps Mayweather in the neutral corner and lands ten unanswered punches, capped off by a crushing right to the body which leaves Mayweather crumbled in the fetal position on the canvas. Referee Mills Lane doesn’t bother to count. Duran wins by knockout at 2:41 of the 14th round!
Duran is jubilant after the fight! Through his interpreter, he tells Max Kellerman:
“GOAT my ass! He fights like a 12 year old girl……worse than Leonard. I showed who the real GOAT is tonight! I wasn’t even in shape tonight. Next time, I’ll knock his ass out in 5 rounds.”
In contrast, Mayweather is angry and disillusioned, “What the [expletive deleted]. I kept trying to tell the referee he was hitting me low but he wouldn’t do anything. I was winning the fight easily but how many times can you get hit in the [expletive deleted]. Damn right we’re gonna protest this! I am the real champion and the greatest ever. Duran still can’t hold my jock strap!”
However, in the end, the mythical record shows that Floyd Mayweather Jr. has just suffered his first professional loss!