PREDICTABLY, Floyd Mayweather’s retirement – announced after tightly outboxing Oscar De La Hoya – did not last for long and he signed to fight unbeaten British hero Ricky Hatton on December 8, 2007. The build-up was engrossing, with the conflicting personalities making for press conference gold. Hatton, like so many Mayweather opponents, was eager to quieten down his mouthy rival and took along a vociferous army of supporters to Sin City.

Hatton – an elite body-puncher and unbeaten in 43 bouts – made of a fight of it for the first five rounds until a point deduction by over-zealous referee Joe Cortez stirred panic in the mind of the Brit. Suddenly going hell for leather, Hatton became an easy target for the brilliant Mayweather.

In round 10, the American timed his ragged foe with a short left hook on the inside that careened Hatton into the corner padding. Ricky went down, exhausted and hurt, and did not recover despite regaining his footing. The subsequent assault – a left, right, left – sent Hatton tumbling again and Cortez waived it off.

This performance, more so than any other, confirmed the intelligence that lay within Mayweather’s gloves. Supreme at ruining a fighter’s rhythm, and then punishing the subsequent desperation, he looked almost unbeatable.

After the fight, Floyd again switched the talk to retirement. “I need to see if I want to come back,” he said. “What else is there for me to prove? These guys can’t beat me. I’m the best.”

He did not fight again for almost two years.