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Inside Boxing

Pretty, Floyd!
Floyd Mayweather's TKO of Diego Corrales was a fistic masterpiece

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a better businessman than we all thought.
A better fighter, too. Last Saturday night's walkover against
previously unbeaten Diego Corrales at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas
made both points. He can do the selling and, equally, to our
surprise, the shelling.

For his efforts Mayweather (25-0 with 18 KOs) not only retained
his WBC 130-pound title but also earned a six-fight contract from
HBO that will pay him $15 million. He is now on a career path
that might lead to Oscar De La Hoya-level fame and riches, making
Pretty Boy another Golden Boy. Promoter Bob Arum was already
proclaiming Mayweather a meal ticket more nourishing than De La
Hoya, who recently split with Arum, ever was. "This one," said
the promoter after the fight, "has heart."

Mayweather, 23, who had earned a reputation as a prima donna,
has brains as well. Though he has made a number of missteps in
his brief career--replacing his father as manager with rap
producer James Prince, bad-mouthing HBO for a previous $12.5
million, six-fight offer he termed a "slave contract" and
looking uninterested in recent bouts with mediocre opponents--he
now seems to see a bigger picture. He promoted the fight better
than even Arum could, getting down and dirty when he had to,
then delivered the goods with a magnificent show of defense and,
stunningly, five knockdowns.

Of his aggressive p.r. work, in which he infuriated Corrales
with reminders of Corrales's upcoming trial for spousal abuse
(Corrales has pleaded not guilty), Mayweather shrugged
good-naturedly. "Controversy sells," he explained. Indeed,
immediately after Corrales's corner waved a towel to end the
fight in the 10th round, Mayweather embraced his fellow fighter
and urged that they put the prefight trash talk behind them.

Apparently there is little of Mayweather you can take at face
value. His estrangement from his father, who thought his son
crazy for refusing that HBO contract and got fired for his
opinion, was not as serious as anyone thought either. Sure,
Mayweather evicted his dad from a house he had bought him and
knocked him off the payroll (Floyd Sr. now trains De La Hoya),
but that's as far as it went. When Mayweather said he had a
ringside ticket for his father, everyone assumed it was a stunt
just as when he said he had a ringside ticket for Corrales's wife
(and would put on a show for abused women everywhere). Yet there
was Floyd Sr. at ringside and, at fight's end, on the dais with
his son. "He's my dad," Mayweather said. "I'm always going to
love my father."

He's got to love his father's advice. Although Uncle Roger is the
trainer of record, Mayweather said a phone call from his father
last Saturday morning not only brought tears to his eyes but also
put sense into his head. Floyd Sr. told him to stick and move,
show lots of feints and go to the body.

Mayweather probably had sussed that out, recognizing the 6-foot
Corrales as a straight up-and-down boxer, "a robot, no special
effects." His father's words nonetheless inspired him. Corrales,
a former super featherweight champion who had moved up to 135
pounds until this opportunity arose, was increasingly baffled by
Mayweather's gun-and-run attack. Determination seemed to
evaporate as he indifferently stalked Mayweather, who proved
untouchable. For all his height and reach advantage over the
5'7 1/2" Mayweather, Corrales connected on only 60 of 205 punches.

When Mayweather began flashing left hooks to Corrales's head,
knocking him down three times in the seventh round, it was clear
he'd decided to put on more than just his usual defensive
exhibition. Two more knockdowns in the 10th, the latter of which
left Corrales splay-legged and his stepfather running up the
steps with a towel, capped off a pretty nice evening for
Mayweather and for boxing.

Afterward Arum was ecstatic about his new star. "Better than
Sugar Ray Leonard," he gushed. "And did you see him at those
press conferences...?"

Olympians Turn Pro
Williams Top of The Class

Six members of the U.S. Olympic boxing team that competed in
Sydney will make their pro debuts on Saturday night at Madison
Square Garden. The class of 2000 is a promising one, but the
valedictorian at the Garden graduation is clearly junior
welterweight Ricardo Williams Jr.

After taking the silver medal in the 140-pound class on a
disputed decision, Williams signed with promoter Lou DiBella for
a $1.4 million bonus, the richest in the sport's history. He may
well be worth it. The Cincinnati native is a polished lefty (he
had 283 amateur bouts), and he's only 19. His hand speed makes
him a lethal inside fighter, but he also can dance out of trouble
and is a capable counterpuncher.

"Williams is Pernell Whitaker with a punch," says DiBella, who
has four other Olympians--heavyweight Michael Bennett, 156-pound
bronze medalist Jermain Taylor, 119-pound bronze medalist
Clarence Vinson and flyweight Jose Navarro--debuting on
Saturday. (Also turning pro on the card will be welterweight
Dante Craig, who signed with Duva Boxing.) Teddy Atlas, who
cohosted NBC's boxing coverage in Sydney, likes what he sees in
Williams but warns, "He needs to be careful not to get too full
of himself."

Williams promises to keep his cool, adding that the prospect of
graduating to the pros doesn't faze him. "I started boxing when
I was eight," he says. "If you flip hamburgers for that long,
they're going to eventually make you the manager." --Luis
Fernando Llosa

Like Father, Like Son
How Macho Is Too Mucho?

Hector (Macho) Camacho--he of the 38 years, seven world titles and
one-too-many leopard loincloths--will, uncharacteristically, share
the spotlight on a Feb. 3 fight card at a Miami nightclub. The
costar? The Macho Man's 22-year-old son, junior lightweight
contender Hector Jr.

Camacho pere, whose record is 73-4-2, will face unknown Troy
Lowry in a middleweight bout; fils, 30-0 and in the midst of
hammering out a multifight contract with HBO, will take on
journeyman Rocky Martinez.

Hector Sr., who says he'll "pass the Camacho torch" to his son
when he retires, has obviously already passed on some of the
Camacho flamboyance. Hector Jr. plans to enter the club, Level,
on a motorcycle. "I'm going to jump three boxing rings, like Evel
Knievel," he says. Maybe for his next stunt he can jump something
really big: his father's ego.

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN IACONO Far too quick for Corrales, Mayweather landed 220 punches to the challenger's 60.

COLOR PHOTO: BILLY STRICKLAND/ALLSPORT Williams (right) had to settle for silver in Sydney, but his future as a professional appears golden.