Five fights that defined Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Depending on who you ask, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is either unfairly maligned or blindly overrated.

The talented five-division world champion is as good as they come, but also infinitely polarizing as his bad guy persona and fierce independence often give the impression that the fans and the sport are just afterthoughts when it comes to his thought process.

However, the fact of the matter is that, while Mayweather is often accused of ducking specific fighters, five of his last six bouts have come against fighters he was accused of ducking at some point.

This coming Saturday, September 17, the 34-year-old Mayweather takes on 24-year-old WBC welterweight champ, Victor Ortiz in the main event of a jam-packed pay-per-view event.

Here's a look at Floyd Mayweather and the five fights that defined him as a fighter and as a man:

Floyd Mayweather TKO 10 Diego Corrales

January 20, 2001 (MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada)

After Mayweather pitched a shutout in the TKO win, knocking Corrales down five times along the way, many detractors painted the victory as a case of a great fighter versus a clearly inferior one. However, at the time of the contest, it was considered an even money bout between two polar opposite fighting styles. Corrales was a legitimately feared IBF world titlist and had scored hard knockouts over top shelf talent such as Roberto Garcia, Derrick Gainer, and Angel Manfredy. Mayweather was simply too good and made the slaying of the beast look easy.

Floyd Mayweather UD 12 Jose Luis Castillo

April 20, 2002 (MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada)

Perhaps dealing with an injured shoulder, perhaps overconfident in a bout with his most complete opponent to date, Mayweather would struggle mightily with reigning WBC lightweight champ, Castillo. Mayweather took most of the early rounds, but Castillo would come back in a major way and show the world why any fighter on any given day is vulnerable to another elite performer. By the end of the 12-round contest, with the HBO commentating crew painting the story of a likely upset, the unanimous decision still went to the winner and new champion, Mayweather.

Floyd Mayweather UD 12 Jose Luis Castillo II

December 7, 2002 (Mandalay Bay Resort Casino, Las Vegas)

Eight months after the controversial decision, Mayweather would take on Castillo in a rematch all but mandated by an aggressive and unified media still questioning the validity of the decision in the first contest. In this battle, Mayweather would perform at his best and control the bout from beginning to end. Castillo would still perform well, but Mayweather proved himself to be at another level with another unanimous decision win on all three judges' scorecards.

Floyd Mayweather SD 12 Oscar De la Hoya

May 5, 2007 (MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada)

While De la Hoya was well past his prime and not the elite fighter he was several years earlier, this was still an important fight for Mayweather. The fighter from Grand Rapids was moving up to junior middleweight and stepping into the limelight for the biggest pay-per-view event of his career as well as a real stepping stone to a mainstream breakthrough. For his part, De la Hoya upped his game and performed as well as he had since dismissing hated rival, Fernando Vargas, five years earlier. Mayweather would take the split decision and enjoy the status of being one half of boxing's biggest pay-per-view of all-time with about 2.4 million buys.

Floyd Mayweather UD 12 Shane Mosley

May 1, 2010 (MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada)

After Mayweather's negotiations with Manny Pacquiao fell through, there was almost nowhere to turn for a viable alternative. Enter future Hall of Famer, Shane Mosley, who, since dismissing welterweight top dog Antonio Margarito, found himself with nobody to fight. Mosley's efforts to lure Manny Pacquiao into a bout hadn't panned out and time was running out on the career of the three-division world champ. In the fight, Mosley came out strong and rocked Floyd in the second round with a pair of monstrous rights. But Mayweather would recover and completely outclass Mosley for the rest of the fight, cruising to a one-sided unanimous decision. For several years, Mayweather had been accused of ducking "Sugar" Shane, but Mayweather's dominance made the accusations look silly in retrospect.

Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.

Sources:

Boxrec, Boxrec Stats and Info, Boxrec

The Boxing Tribune, The Boxing Tribune Editorials and Fight Reports, The Boxing Tribune

Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.

Follow Yahoo! Sports' boxing coverage on Twitter.
Updated Monday, Sep 12, 2011