Floyd Mayweather is now 50-0 as a boxer, battling (mostly) the best of the best throughout his career. Out of the ring, Mayweather has done plenty to tarnish his reputation and legacy as a person, from arrests to statements made. Viewed as a whole, it’s hard to be positive about him, and I personally am not.
But in the ring, he’s made his case to be considered the best pound-for-pound fighter of his generation, and by eclipsing the 49-0 mark of Rocky Marciano, he’s done something that nobody else has done at this level.
There are many caveats to Mayweather’s in-ring career, from his arguable loss to Jose Luis Castillo in 2002 to his tendency to pick his opponents carefully in the latter half of his career. He faced some of the best boxers of this generation in his final 10 or so fights, but almost all of those fights were long overdue after his opponents were out of their prime.
His technical boxing is second to none. He peppered his early record with knockouts of fighters who went on to do nothing of note, and in his later years he has rarely managed to finish his opponent.
But what he has been able to do is frustrate the best of the best and drag them into deeper waters than they’ve ever been in before. So many of Mayweather’s fights started off even and ended with his opponents gasping for breath, unable to land a single punch; completely defeated.
The Bottom Tier
50. Mayweather vs. Roberto Apodaca (10/11/1996, 0-0)
49. Mayweather vs. Tony Duran (5/9/1997, 6-0)
48. Mayweather vs. Louie Leija (9/6/1997, 9-0)
47. Mayweather vs. Jesus Chavez (7/12/1997, 8-0)
46. Mayweather vs. Jerry Cooper (1/18/1997, 2-0)
45. Mayweather vs. Tony Pep (6/14/1998, 16-0)
44. Mayweather vs. Edgar Ayala (2/1/1997, 3-0)
43. Mayweather vs. Kino Rodriguez (3/12/1997, 4-0)
42. Mayweather vs. Reggie Sanders (11/30/1996, 1-0)
41. Mayweather vs. Gregorio Vargas (3/19/2000, 22-0, retained Lineal and WBC Super Featherweight titles)
Most of the fights above are from very early in Mayweather’s career. His first professional fight, against Roberto Apodaca, ended with a TKO in the second round, and Apodaca went on to finish his professional career with an 0-4 record. The bout with Jerry Cooper was a terrible one-round fight, but it sure was entertaining seeing Mayweather beat up on somebody rocking a very unfortunate mullet.
The match with Vargas was a weird one. It’s the latest match in this group, and it was a bad 12-round decision win for Mayweather. He barely hit Vargas, he looked uncomfortable, and he complained that his right hand and wrist were injured. The commentators talked a lot more about Mayweather’s contract disputes than the bout itself.
40. Mayweather vs. Angel Manfredy (12/19/1998, 18-0, retained Lineal and WBC Super Featherweight titles)
39. Mayweather vs. Bobby Giepert (4/12/1997, 5-0)
38. Mayweather vs. Carlos Baldomir (11/4/2006, 36-0, retained IBO Welterweight title and won WBC, IBA and The Ring Welterweight titles)
37. Mayweather vs. Larry O’Shields (6/14/1997, 7-0)
36. Mayweather vs. Angelo Nunez (11/20/1997, 11-0)
35. Mayweather vs. Felipe Garcia (10/14/1997, 10-0)
34. Mayweather vs. Carlos Hernandez (5/26/2001, 25-0, retained Lineal and WBC Super Featherweight titles)
33. Mayweather vs. Miguel Melo (3/23/1998, 14-0)
32. Mayweather vs. Justin Juuko (5/22/1999, 20-0, retained Lineal and WBC Super Featherweight titles)
The fight with Baldomir was the first time Mayweather talked about retirement following a win. It was a bad fight: one where very few punches were thrown despite a lot of hype going in. People left before it was over. The bout with O’Shields was an early one that showcased Mayweather’s eventual style: one of patience. O’Shields lasted the whole fight and Mayweather was unable to knock him out, but he also showed great technical skill defensively.
Juuko pushed Mayweather a lot more than most boxers were able to push him. He lasted until deep in the match, but Mayweather ultimately turned it on and knocked Juuko down in the ninth. He was unable to get up in time. Mayweather’s nose was bloodied in the Melo bout, and he touched Mayweather a couple of times.
But the fight was taken on three weeks’ notice, and Mayweather eventually scored the TKO. The Manfredy bout should have been so much more, but instead a passive Manfredy talked trash about Mayweather’s other title defenses and ended up getting TKO’d while doing basically nothing.
The Middle Tier
31. Mayweather vs. Sam Girard (2/28/1998, 13-0)
30. Mayweather vs. Henry Bruseles (1/22/2005, 32-0)
29. Mayweather vs. Hector Arroyo (1/9/1998, 12-0)
28. Mayweather vs. DeMarcus Corley (5/22/2004, 31-0)
27. Mayweather vs. Carlos Gerena (9/11/1999, 21-0, retained Lineal and WBC Super Featherweight titles)
26. Mayweather vs. Jesus Chavez (11/10/2001, 26-0, retained Lineal and WBC Super Featherweight titles)
25. Mayweather vs. Carlos Rios (2/17/1999, 19-0, retained Lineal and WBC Super Featherweight titles)
24. Mayweather vs. Victoriano Sosa (4/19/2003, 29-0, retained WBC and The Ring Lightweight titles)
23. Mayweather vs. Sharmba Mitchell (11/19/2005, 34-0)
22. Mayweather vs. Gustavo Fabian Cuello (4/18/1998, 15-0)
Fighting with his father in his corner for the first time, Mayweather stood and traded with Girard, who went down quickly in the second round. Cuello was the first boxer to go a full 10 rounds with Mayweather, who started to earn his label of arrogant in that fight, taunting Cuello through most of it.
Against Rios, Mayweather was actually trying to show the world that he was capable of going a full 12 rounds. Little did everyone know, that’s how Mayweather would win the majority of his career fights. Rios hung with Mayweather for the entire fight, too, but it was a clear Mayweather win.
21. Mayweather vs. Andre Berto (9/12/2015, 48-0, retained WBA (Super), WBC, The Ring and Lineal Welterweight titles)
20. Mayweather vs. Robert Guerrero (5/4/2013, 43-0, retained WBC Welterweight title and won The Ring Welterweight title)
19. Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana II (9/13/2014, 46-0, retained WBA Super Welterweight, WBC and The Ring Welterweight and WBC Light Middleweight titles)
18. Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz (9/17/2011, 41-0, won WBC Welterweight title)
17. Mayweather vs. Juan Manuel Marquez (9/19/2009, 39-0)
Against Maidana the second time, Mayweather was dominant, but it was still a huge fight. Following a two-year break, Mayweather fought Marquez, and it looked early on like he was showing some serious rust. As expected though, he fought back and eventually took a dominant win.
Ortiz let his guard down with a second left in the fourth round, and Mayweather earned a controversial knockout. Mayweather then got into a spat with HBO’s Larry Merchant during the post-fight interview. Merchant told Mayweather, “If I was 50 years younger, I would kick your ass.”
Then there’s the Berto fight. It wasn’t much of a contest, and Mayweather looked as good as advertised. The reason it’s rated so highly is because Mayweather looked so fast despite his age. It gave him win No. 49.
16. Mayweather vs. Genaro Hernandez (10/3/1998, 17-0, won Lineal and WBC Super Featherweight titles)
The earliest fight to make it to the top 15, the bout with Hernandez was hugely significant for Mayweather’s future. Hernandez was past his prime, but he’d been dominant at the weight class for years. He’d defended his title 12 times and even when he wasn’t at his best, he was a fearsome opponent. Mayweather boxed circles around him until Hernandez quit after the eighth round, retiring from the fight and the sport altogether.
15. Mayweather vs. Ricky Hatton (12/8/2007, 38-0, retained WBC and The Ring Welterweight titles)
So many people thought Hatton had what it takes to take out Mayweather, but it wasn’t even close. Hatton’s looser style did nothing against Mayweather, who picked him apart and, for good measure, ultimately put him down. Mayweather fought his own game plan despite Hatton’s ability to take people out of their comfort zones. Thousands of British fans attended in the hopes that Hatton would win. They were sorely disappointed.
14. Mayweather vs. Philip N’dou (11/1/2003, 30-0, retained WBC and The Ring Lightweight titles)
Mayweather, feeling the heat from fans for some pretty terrible fights the previous year, went out and boxed N’dou aggressively. He stood in the pocket and traded despite that not being his style, and he gave fans a show. Ultimately, he scored a TKO over N’dou in the seventh round.
13. Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao (5/2/2015, 47-0, unified WBA (Super), WBC, WBO and The Ring Welterweight titles)
The so-called “Fight of the Century” was a shadow of what it should have been. They should have fought years earlier when Pacquiao wasn’t completely and utterly out of his prime. But the fight was made, and it made a ton of money. Pacquiao had nothing for Mayweather, but once again, it was incredibly impressive just how fast and accurate Mayweather looked.
12. Mayweather vs. Zab Judah (4/8/2006, 35-0, won IBF and IBO Welterweight titles)
This fight was a big one. First, Judah landed hard on Mayweather in the second round and came very, very close to scoring a knockdown. But Mayweather made it through the round and eventually took control of the fight, ultimately working his way to a victory. In the 10th round, Judah hit Mayweather with a low blow and a punch to the back of the head, which prompted both corners to spill into the ring for a good old-fashioned brawl.
11. Mayweather vs. Emanuel Augustus (10/21/2000, 23-0)
Augustus was one of the most entertaining fighters to watch due to his weird style and antics in the ring. He taunted, he danced, and he brawled with literally anybody who would agree to it. He was poorly managed overall, but he enjoyed every second of his journeyman career. Mayweather eventually said that Augustus was the toughest boxer he’d faced, though Mayweather took a ninth-round TKO.
10. Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor (8/26/2017, 49-0)
Surprisingly, this fight delivered. McGregor definitely flustered Mayweather early, and it forced Mayweather to do exactly what McGregor wanted: come forward. Unfortunately for McGregor, he faded later while Mayweather kept coming forward. Suddenly, it was no longer a blessing for McGregor, and he eventually found himself on the losing end of a TKO. Still, McGregor did much better than anybody expected, even against a slower, older Mayweather, and it made for a rather exciting bout and an important one in Mayweather’s history.
9. Mayweather vs. Arturo Gatti (6/25/2005, 33-0, won WBC Light Welterweight title)
Gatti was well-loved, but he was embarrassed by Mayweather, who called him a “club fighter” prior to their match. Gatti retired from the match after six rounds, and at one point ate four consecutive lead right hands that were telegraphed from a mile away. It was domination for Mayweather.
8. Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez (9/14/2013, 44-0)
Canelo is one of the most technically sound boxers, and he hung with Mayweather early. His performance in the earlier rounds was definitely something to be excited about, but as is usually the case for boxers fighting Mayweather, he got tired and in deep waters by the end of it. After the majority decision win for Mayweather, Alvarez admitted he couldn’t keep up with Mayweather and left no doubt that he was on another level.
7. Mayweather vs. Jose Luis Castillo II (12/7/2002, 28-0, retained WBC and The Ring Lightweight titles)
The first fight against Castillo was better for a lot of reasons, but Mayweather indisputably won the second meeting, and that’s significant. Castillo threw more than 600 punches in the fight, but Mayweather used his frustrating defensive style to keep himself out of range. Castillo barely landed, and Mayweather took a unanimous decision win.
6. Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley (5/1/2010, 40-0)
One of the rare times when Mayweather consistently came forward late in his career, the Mosley fight was an all-out brawl. It’s one in which Mayweather wasn’t really harmed, but it was still impressive and fun. He threw and landed more punches than Mosley, and after the fight told he the fans he gave them what they wanted.
5. Mayweather vs. Diego Corrales (1/20/2001, 24-0, retained Lineal and WBC Super Featherweight titles)
This is one of the few fights where Mayweather took on the best at their prime, or near enough. Corrales was dangerous, with 29 of his 33 wins coming via knockout. He was also much bigger than Mayweather. He stalked Mayweather for the first few rounds, and many felt the power shots were coming. But Mayweather never slowed down, and by the seventh round, he was boxing circles around Corrales, who suddenly needed a knockout to win. He didn’t get it, and he was knocked down three times in a single round by a ferocious and much faster Mayweather.
4. Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana I (5/3/2014, 45-0, retained WBC and The Ring Welterweight titles and won WBA Super Welterweight title)
The entire match was watched with held breath as Maidana, the bigger and more powerful fighter, went all out for a knockout from bell to bell. He came forward, and forward, and forward, but Mayweather stayed out of danger, outside of a cut opened from a head clash. Mayweather didn’t throw enough punches of his own to get a dominant win, but he was never truly in danger against Maidana.
3. Mayweather vs. Oscar De La Hoya (5/5/2007, 37-0, won WBC Light Middleweight title)
This wasn’t as good a fight as people hoped, and De La Hoya was out of his prime, but the hype and spectacle around it made everyone sit at the edge of their seats. De La Hoya was active enough and Mayweather was passive enough that the fight did ultimately come down to a narrow split decision win for Mayweather. He said after the fight that it was a “masterpiece” of boxing, and though it’s hard to agree with that, he did execute his game plan perfectly.
2. Mayweather vs. Jose Luis Castillo I (4/20/2002, 27-0, won WBC and The Ring Lightweight titles)
The most notorious Mayweather fight is the one — the only one — that you can really argue that he should have lost. The judges’ scorecards were so out of line with the match itself, it would have been humorous. Castillo controlled the fight, he bullied Mayweather, and he absorbed little damage. The crowd booed. Experts railed against the judges. It was a bad decision. Mayweather should have been 27-1 after this fight.
1. Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto (5/5/2012, 42-0, won WBA Super Light Middleweight title)
Cotto pushed Mayweather like nobody else since Castillo a decade earlier. Cotto landed early and he landed often, bloodying Mayweather’s nose. Mayweather claimed Cotto pushed him harder than anybody else. It was a huge fight, and Cotto was rarely in danger. He wasn’t in his prime, and that was a disappointment. If they met earlier in their careers, when Cotto was so famous for his soul-crushing body blows, it may have been different. But as it was, it was an incredible spectacle that was closer than most give it credit for.