By Eric Raskin
For either Victor Ortiz or Floyd Mayweather, Saturday night’s fight has an excellent chance of ending up on their “greatest hits” reel. But until then, here are our picks for each man’s three finest performances:
January 20, 2001
The Story: In a battle of unbeatens regarded as the two best junior lightweights in the world at the time, Mayweather used his speed, elusiveness, and underrated power to dominate Corrales and score five knockdowns before Corrales’ corner threw in the towel in the 10th.
The Moment: Immediately after the bell sounded to start the seventh round, Mayweather dropped Corrales with a left hook he never saw, scoring the first knockdown of the fight. It seems crazy now, but “Chico” was listed as a slight favorite in some sports books. He’d been on a knockout tear coming in, and there were many who expected him to continue that streak against “Pretty Boy Floyd.” When Mayweather scored his first knockdown, it reminded us that speed usually beats power, and speed often is power.
December 8, 2007
The Story: Hatton was the undefeated junior welterweight champion of the world and he brought thousands of fans over from England to see him, but the pressure fighter was no match for the master boxer and Mayweather whacked “The Hitman” in round 10.
The Moment: It has to be the counter left hook in the final round that sent Hatton face-first into the turnbuckle pad, then down to the canvas. The way Hatton toppled was the perfect blend of comedy and brutality. Considering Mayweather hasn’t scored many knockouts since moving to 147 pounds and above, this has to rank as the best punch he’s landed in the last several years.
May 1, 2010
The Story: Mosley, having shockingly knocked out Antonio Margarito in his previous fight, threatened to do the same to Mayweather when he hurt him in the second round, but “Money” stayed on his feet and dominated the rest of the way, winning a lopsided decision.
The Moment: For some, it was Mayweather getting hurt worse than ever before in that second round. But in the grand picture of his career, we prefer the start of Round Three, when he surprisingly began coming forward, walking Mosley down, and beating him with aggression and a superior offensive arsenal. Mayweather isn’t just a slickster. He has heart and grit, and he proved it with the way he responded to danger.
December 6, 2008
The Story: One-time hot prospect Resto rode a five-fight winning streak into his fight with hot-as-hell prospect Ortiz, but went down three times in two rounds to end his comeback—and his career.
The Moment: The first knockdown was a beauty, as a straight left hand caught the lanky Resto on the chin and sent him down on his rear. It was a statement punch: This 21-year-old kid has real one-shot power. Sure, Resto was a big underdog. But Ortiz wasn’t supposed to blow through him like this.
March 7, 2009
The Story: In a fight not unlike Ortiz-Resto, comeback-ing former prospect Arnaoutis ran into the Ortiz buzzsaw, getting rocked by a second-round overhand left that led to a stoppage moments later on the strength of a “Vicious” follow-up attack.
The Moment: The left hand was a crushing blow, but in light of what happened in Ortiz’s next fight—his upset defeat to Marcos Maidana that temporarily altered his career trajectory—the postfight interview with Max Kellerman is more memorable than what happened in the fight. Ortiz’s hype was hitting its peak, and Kellerman compared his path of destruction to a young Felix Trinidad. Ortiz declared, “A new champion is on the rise, and I’m not stopping for anyone or anything.” My, how the narrative changed three months later.
April 16, 2011
The Story: As an underdog with everything prove against the undefeated Berto, Ortiz showed the power we knew he had and the heart that so many questioned when he scored two knockdowns, got up from two knockdowns, and won a clear-cut decision in a Fight of the Year candidate.
The Moment: After Berto knocked Ortiz down in round six—and it was a hard knockdown, leaving Ortiz drooling for a moment—a knockout loss for Ortiz seemed like it was imminent. Then he lashed out with a sudden left hand and dropped Berto, providing what turned out to be the defining momentum shift of the fight. If Ortiz should rise to full-on superstardom, it will be that sixth-round shot against Berto that stands out as the one punch that set the course of his career.