Nobody has ever beaten Floyd Mayweather, but a few fighters have come pretty close.
The Irishman can take some inspiration, however, from these bouts – the closest calls of the American’s career.
Mayweather v Jose Luis Castillo – 20 April 2002
Few fighters can honestly say they were robbed in defeat to Mayweather, but Castillo has a legitimate claim.
The WBC lightweight champion – knowing he was going up against one of the most technical fighters in the world – was determined to initiate a brawl when he defended his belt against ‘Pretty Boy’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
It was a wise decision.
The powerful Mexican champion made Mayweather work for every minute of every round, throwing and landing more punches and winning by four rounds on the card of HBO’s Harold Lederman.
Then came the official scorecards, all three of which gave victory to Mayweather.
The decision was loudly booed, and the American – for once humbled, perhaps, by the crowd’s reaction – offered up an immediate rematch.
Which he won. Obviously.
Mayweather v Zab Judah – 8 April 2006
Mayweather has officially only been knocked down once in his career, when he deliberately touched the mat against Carlos Hernandez in 2001 while complaining of an injured hand.
He was clearly sent to the canvas on another occasion, though: this welterweight title fight against then-IBF champion Judah.
Judah landed a short right hook in the second round as Mayweather attempted a body shot, and only a glove on the mat kept the challenger on his feet.
The ref ruled it a slip, however, and although Mayweather was hurt again in the fourth round, he managed to withstand the early barrage and come away with a unanimous decision.
What this fight will always be remembered for, however, is the riot that broke out when Mayweather’s uncle Roger entered the ring, objecting to multiple Judah low blows.
You couldn’t really blame the Mayweathers for losing their heads.
After the first four rounds, Judah probably landed more shots below the belt than above it.
Mayweather v De La Hoya – 5 May 2007
One of the most impressive and overlooked facts of Mayweather’s career is that only one judge has ever had him behind on the scorecards after 12 rounds.
That was Tom Kaczmarek, who had De La Hoya beating the four-division champion by two rounds in this light middleweight superfight.
Unfortunately for ‘Golden Boy’, the other two judges gave Mayweather the nod for what is still the only split decision of his career to date.
He was still Pretty Boy at this point, but Mayweather should perhaps have adopted the ‘Money’ moniker for this bout, given that it was then the most lucrative of all time.
He wasn’t quite the box office draw that he is today, though, and actually made only (yes, only) £10m – less than half of De La Hoya’s total purse.
Mayweather v Shane Mosley – 1 May 2010
There’s no doubting what the hardest punch Mayweather has ever taken is.
‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley shook the pound-for-pound king with an absolute howitzer of a right hand that left him clinging on for survival in just the second round.
And if that wasn’t impressive enough, Mosley did it again just seconds later with a right hook that buckled Mayweather’s knees.
Mayweather had already proven that he was one of the finest boxers ever with more technical ability than any active fighter.
Here, though, he showed something he’d never shown before: a chin.
He knew that Mosley’s only chance of winning was an early knockout, and out-boxed him for the remaining rounds to take yet another comfortable points win.
Mayweather v Marcos Maidana – 3 May 2014
Maidana’s 10/1 pre-fight price said it all: this was meant be a walkover win for Mayweather.
The Argentine wasn’t exactly a huge name in the sport, and had already been beaten by decent (but not elite) fighters like Andy Kotelnik, Amir Khan and Devon Alexander.
Maindana almost shocked Mayweather and the boxing world, however, with an incredible display of aggression, power and stamina.
The challenger landed more punches on Mayweather than any opponent had ever managed before, and chased him around the ring at times while throwing wild combinations.
He just wouldn’t go away.
The American’s superior ring craft saw him come away with only a majority decision as one judge scored the fight a draw, but he left the ring with a cut eye and an awareness that he’d had a lucky escape.