FLOYD MAYWEATHER had encountered few problems while cruising to victory in his first 17 fights. Despite that, not many were predicting great things for the 21-year-old, and if it wasn’t for a flood of late bets on Mayweather, he would have started his Las Vegas challenge to WBC super-featherweight champion Genaro Hernandez as an underdog.

But the challenger proved to be a revelation [above], his frantic style of boxing bewitching Hernandez in October 1998. Mayweather did have some issues with his rival’s left hook, but his own curling bombs – clustered together in lightning combinations – overwhelmed the champion and forced his retirement in the eighth.

The journey was suddenly gathering pace.