NEW YORK -- Beware of the man with the sly grin.
That man is DeMarcus Corley -- former WBO junior welterweight champion and
the dance partner of "Pretty Boy" Floyd Mayweather this Saturday in Atlantic
City. He sits without an entourage, without the hype that followed him
pretty closely during his two-year reign as champion.
But he watches everything. He remembers what it was like in his brief time
as "The Man." And he knows he can regain that status in 36 minutes (or
less) of work Saturday.
Corley likes that idea.
"What motivates me are the main event fights," he smiles, "when it's my
time, it's my show. I know I'm gonna come out a winner Saturday night."
He's in there with perhaps the best fighter in the world in Mayweather, but
it wasn't too long ago that some were tabbing the Washington, D.C., native as a
future pound-for-pound candidate. He had speed, flash, and power, and the
upside to carry him as far as he wanted to take this.
Then came a disappointing loss to Zab Judah in July of last year, in which
Corley was listless for the entire 12 rounds en route to losing a decision
and his title. Then the bandwagon emptied.
"It's always gonna be like that," said Corley. "The media always goes with
the champion. If you're not the champion, they don't want to be bothered
In the almost 10 months since the Judah fight, Corley has laid low. But
while he was inactive in terms of actual fights, he hasn't left the boxing
gym, helping to prepare Kostya Tszyu and Ricardo Mayorga for their recent
bouts. Needless to say, with Corley going through this type of work, if
Mayweather thinks he will catch "Chop Chop" cold, he may be in for a
"It hasn't been hard for me to stay sharp because I was in camp with
Mayorga in October and November, prior to going to camp with Kostya Tszyu to
get him ready for Sharmba (Mitchell, a bout subsequently postponed)," said
Corley. "So my body's right. I'm in shape 100 percent."
Though it won't prepare Corley stylistically for fighting Mayweather,
working with such diverse champions as Tszyu and Mayorga does have its
"Tszyu, he comes to fight," said Corley. "One hundred percent he's going to give you his
all. You have to be on your game to work with a fighter like him. And
working with Mayorga, you have to protect yourself at all times because he's
a wild fighter."
According to Corley, Mayorga was also weighing in at about 158-160 pounds
during their sparring sessions, something he won't have to worry about with
"It's a big difference for me sparring Mayorga because it let me know that
I needed to watch myself because he was a great puncher," Corley admits. "If
he hits you, he can hurt you. But as far as me fighting Floyd, Floyd's not a
puncher. He has broken people down at 130 and 135, but I don't think he's
going to be a threat to me at all."
Mayweather's confidence is well established. But with Corley talking a good
game as well, there may be some fireworks once the opening bell rings, and
the 29-year-old, a natural junior welterweight, doesn't plan on rolling out
the welcome mat.
"We're all going to find out Saturday how big the five pounds really is,"
said Corley, a father of seven. "Floyd has a whole lot of disadvantages
against me -- he's in trouble in court, so he can't focus on this fight; he's
moving up to a new weight class, so he has to watch what he eats so he don't
go to welterweight; and he's fighting a southpaw."
Having not been in with a southpaw since the early days of his career may
pose a problem for Mayweather, but the Grand Rapids, Mich., native insists that the
sparring he got for the fight more than compensated for any unfamiliarity
with lefties. But will he be able to take a punch from a legitimate fighter
in a higher weight class?
Corley grins again, from ear to ear, and he briefly changes tact, like a
fighter going from righty to lefty to throw off his opponent's game.
"From 130 to 135, yes, he (Mayweather) is as good as everyone says he is,"
"But this is a new weight class for Floyd and it's going to be a whole
Okay, what about him taking that 140-pound punch?
This time it's not a smile, but a laugh.
"I hope he sits still."