Thursday, Dec. 7, 2000 | 10:30 a.m.
Many a combative fighter has entered the ring with no greater motivation than to defeat the man across from him simply because he's there.
But when Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Diego Corrales step between the ropes Jan. 20 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena a genuine animosity should be evident. After all, the hostility between the two is already in the air.
In fact, it has been for some time.
"As a person ... it's a shame, a crying shame," Corrales said Wednesday when asked his view of Mayweather as a human being. "The things he's done, like kicking his own father out of his house. 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."
Mayweather matched Corrales' verbal barb and said he would "beat him like a dog" on behalf of "every battered woman out there."
Both fighters have their out-of-the-ring troubles although Mayweather's may be past tense. He removed his father, Floyd, from his home and allegedly had his van repossessed after dropping him as his trainer.
His father, in turn, refers to Floyd Jr. as a "would-be gangster."
Corrales has a spousal abuse charge pending and is also trying to legally extricate himself from a contract with his managers.
So neither one is up for sainthood. But as professional fighters they're both youthful, tough and skilled, and an interesting bout is assured.
While the MGM sports book has not yet installed a betting line, the fight is up at some local parlors with Mayweather a minus 190 and Corrales a plus 150.
Mayweather is said to be getting $1.7 million and Corrales $1.4 million.
Mayweather, 23, is the reigning World Boxing Council champion at 130 pounds and is 24-0 with 18 knockouts. Corrales, also 23, recently gave up his International Boxing Federation junior lightweight title because he was struggling to make 130, and he's 33-0 with 27 KOs.
Clearly, it's Corrales making the sacrifice to allow this fight to happen six months before it had been tentatively planned. He's the one who has the weight problem.
"It'll be a piece of cake," he said, perhaps optimistically. "I'm doing just fine and weigh 140 right now. As my father once told me, a happy worker is a hard worker and the weight will take care of itself because I'm thrilled to have this fight happening."
Initially, Mayweather was going to meet Alejandro Gonzalez and Corrales was going to face WBC lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo as co-main events on a January card. The idea was to, once again, market these fighters on the same show -- as had also been done in March at the MGM -- in an effort to build up interest in a showdown between them next summer at 135 pounds.
But an incident in a corridor near a restaurant at Mandalay Bay, combined with cable network HBO's desire for a good fight on the Jan. 20 date, pushed the Mayweather vs. Corrales fight up a few months.
The alleged incident, which Mayweather continues to downplay, had Mayweather and his entourage surrounding Corrales and making threatening overtures.
"Oh, it definitely happened," Corrales said. "It was outside the China Grille at Mandalay Bay and I thought we were going to have to fight.
"I took my jewelry off, and that's something I wouldn't have done without having a good reason."
Pshaw, Mayweather says.
"Corrales is blowing it out of proportion," he said. "There was nothing threatening about it. We were just talking. Boxing is a gentleman's sport and I get paid to fight in the ring.
"I'm not going to get into a street fight."
Yet promoter Bob Arum was concerned enough to say "I thought I'd better get these guys together in the ring before they got in a fight somewhere else." Factor in HBO's desire to pay a decent price for the bout after a planned fight featuring light heavyweight champ Roy Jones Jr. fell through, and Mayweather vs. Corrales went on the fast track.
"What's the difference?" Corrales said. "We were going to fight sooner or later and when opportunity knocks you have to take advantage of it. I'm excited and ready for it.
"It's my one chance to show what I've really got."
Corrales will be training at the Prince Ranch near Mt. Charleston and Mayweather will open camp in Phoenix today. Ex-fighter Roger Mayweather is now his nephew's lead trainer.
"He makes me throw a lot more punches," Mayweather said of the difference in training styles between his uncle and his estranged father. "I'm not perfect and we all need a trainer, and Roger has me being a lot more offensive."
Mayweather said he'll be too quick for Corrales and that will nullify the latter's four-inch height advantage.
"It's going to be an exciting fight but he's just a basic fighter," Mayweather said. "I feel I'm a young veteran and it's going to be hard for any man to beat me. I'm the total package and I'll hit him three times while he's still trying to hit me once.
"It's a thinking man's game and that's why I've won so many fights. I may be in with a fighter who's stronger than me but he can't think.
"He can't out-box me and I hit pretty good, too. I'll be in there throwing some hot stuff."