Tim Graham

Tuesday, January 16
Updated: January 18, 9:34 PM ET
How 'bout a nice double knockout?

By Tim Graham
Special to ESPN.com

I used to root for Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Diego Corrales. They seemed like such nice young men.
Floyd Mayweather
Floyd Mayweather (right) is a great fighter, but is he one of the greatest?

But when they fight each other in a 130-pound title bout Saturday night in Las Vegas, I'll be hoping for one of those blooper-reel double knockouts, where the two pugs abandon all defense, wind up with all they got and both land on the button.

It's a shame one of these pukes will win.

I didn't feel that way a couple years ago. Back then I remember both being bright-eyed, so eager to please.

Why else would a pair of up-and-coming boxers agree to visit a restaurant on the Strip to do some two-bit radio show for some two-bit host?

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Diego Corrales each drove across the Las Vegas valley on separate nights back in 1998 to be guests on some rinky-dink sports talk show I used to host. It was always fun to have guests join me in the booth, but as a boxing fan I was particularly pleased the nights these gentlemen dropped by.

Corrales was barely a blip on the boxing radar. He was 24-0 with 20 knockouts at the time, but he hadn't beaten anyone of note. He was a few days from obliterating another pedestrian opponent when he and co-manager Barrett Silver stopped in to help drum up support for the club card.

Corrales was genuinely excited about being on the radio. I was so impressed by his quiet graciousness, a reserved classiness seldom seen in a 21-year-old professional athlete.

But what I remember most was Corrales' eagerness to appease some radio host he'd probably never heard of. He slipped me a personalized autograph on a picture with coffee stains all over it. You could tell it was probably the last of his publicity shots, but he wanted me to have it anyway.

I immediately became a fan.

Then there was the night Mayweather came on the show. He already had won and defended his WBC super featherweight title with upsets over Genaro Hernandez and Angel Manfredy, respectively.

But Mayweather, also 21, hadn't quite learned the ropes of public life. He was in the middle of our interview when his cellular phone started chirping. Mayweather, despite wearing headphones and having a microphone a millimeter from his mouth, ignored whatever question I was asking and answered the phone instead. His private conversation, unbeknownst to him, was broadcast live.

It made for good radio. His youthfulness was charming, but it was clear this young man with all the boxing talent in the world lacked worldliness.

I just thought Mayweather and Corrales were innocently naive.

Since then, however, the rest of the world and I have learned they're nothing more than ungrateful punks.

(posted after Mayweather-Corrales)
1. Felix Trinidad
2. Roy Jones
3. Shane Mosley
4. Floyd Mayweather
5. Lennox Lewis
6. Oscar De La Hoya
7. Erik Morales
8. Fernando Vargas
9. Naseem Hamed
10. Marco Antonio Barrera
11. Kostya Tszyu
12. Zab Judah
13. Mark Johnson
14. Paulie Ayala
15. Ricardo Lopez

That said, Saturday night's bout could be a fight of the year candidate. Both fighters are among the pound-for-pound best. Mayweather (24-0, 18 KOs) can throw three combinations before the opening bell's echo fades out, while Corrales (33-0, 27 KOs) can drop the hammer faster than a railroad worker.

Too bad both of them are louses.

Mayweather's reputation started to slide in 1999, shortly after he hired a new manager in rap music mogul James Prince. That move displaced and displeased Floyd Mayweather Sr., who was his son's trainer and manager.

The younger Mayweather subsequently turned down a three-year, six-fight contract extension from HBO worth $12.5 million. He called the money "slave wages."

That ignorant approach further aggravated Floyd Sr. The ensuing rift led Floyd Jr. to fire his father in all capacities, to evict his father from a Las Vegas home he had purchased for him and to repossess a van he had bought for his father.

Meanwhile, with Prince in his corner, Floyd Jr. fought once in a 13-month period.

But the Mayweather saga is an episode of "The Simpsons" compared to the shameful tale of Diego Corrales.

Corrales faces charges in Sacramento that he assaulted his 98-pound pregnant wife. The police claimed Corrales broke her collarbone, jaw and rib. He also was charged with false imprisonment and having a prohibited weapon. He has been free on $100,000 bail since his arrest last summer and is expected to go to court in March.

Since Corrales ardently denies the charges, one would think the former car thief would need all the support he can muster to help his cause. But he has filed a grievance with the Nevada State Athletic Commission against the two men who made him a champion: co-managers Silver and Cameron Dunkin.

It was Silver and Duncan who cajoled and prodded the notoriously unmotivated Corrales through the early stages of his career. Silver and Duncan were instrumental in convincing Corrales to give up a $78-a-week truck driving job to focus on turning pro.

Now a millionaire, Corrales wants to wash his hands of them.

The fighter blames Dunkin for surrendering the IBF junior lightweight title last year without consulting him, even though Corrales had publicly expressed his intention to move up to 135 pounds because he was having increased trouble trimming his 6-foot frame to fight at 130. Corrales walks around at about 162 pounds and, after weighing in on Friday, could enter the ring in the neighborhood of 142.

The strife surrounding both fighters, but particularly Corrales, prompted their promoter, Bob Arum's Top Rank Inc., to throw this bout together.

This fight originally wasn't supposed to happen until later this year at 135 pounds, but with Corrales' propensity to blow up at any time, Arum made the match as quickly as he could.

The moods surrounding both fighters have been incendiary with each taking repeated pot shots at his opponent's unstable personal life.

"As a person ... it's a shame, a crying shame the things he's done, like kicking his own father out of his house," Corrales said. "Something like that is uncalled for. Floyd's a guy who acts tough when he has seven or eight of his buddies around him. But this time it's going to be just him and me."

Floyd Jr. responded to Corrales in (un)kind, saying he would "beat him like a dog" on behalf of "every battered woman out there."

Fine logic, Little Floyd: Enact revenge on an alleged wife beater by pretending you're wailing on an animal. I can see it now ... dueling protests outside the MGM Grand Garden with PETA and NOW jostling for position outside the main entrance.

To help train for Saturday's bout, Corrales has affixed Mayweather pictures to various punching bags. Corrales has written the words "kill" underneath.

"He can't fight a poster, a picture," Mayweather said. "I'm just going to beat a guy who wants to kill me. That's all."

It should be noted Saturday night's victor automatically will receive a lucrative contract extension from HBO.

Sadly, one of these blockheads will not only win, but also increase his vast wealth because of it.

No matter what happens in the ring, however, both of them are losers.

ESPN.com boxing writer Tim Graham covers boxing for The Buffalo News and The Ring Magazine, and formerly wrote for the Las Vegas Sun.

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