Washington 140-pounder DeMarcus Corley sat in front of a microphone looking exhausted and a bit dejected about what could have been.

It was about a half-hour after his unanimous decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr., Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, and Corley, 29, lamented not only the loss but a missed opportunity.

After clearly losing the first and second rounds, Corley had shown signs of life in the third round and delivered what could have been a momentum-changing shot early in the fourth. While moving in, Corley (28-3-1) caught Mayweather (32-0) with a looping, overhand right that startled Mayweather and moved the unbeaten 27-year-old to the ropes.

"The guy cracked me with a good shot," Mayweather said.

But Corley, who brought the crowd of 6,103 to its feet with that punch, seemingly did not follow up with the urgency needed to get Mayweather in trouble. Mayweather ended up escaping, landing several big shots and nearly scoring a knockdown.

"I should have gone after him, and I did not do that," Corley said.

Mayweather dictated the tempo the rest of the fight and won easily, 119-107, 119-108, 118-108.

Corley said earlier in the week that the fight was critical to his career. It was his first since a loss to Zab Judah last July, and he agreed a victory would keep him relevant in a division that is arguably boxing's deepest. Now, however, he seems to be on the outside looking in.

Corley's options won't be nearly as exciting or numerous as Mayweather's. The former 130- and 135-pound champ helped validate his claim as boxing's pound-for-pound best Saturday and accelerated his rise to stardom.

Mayweather, while quick and technically gifted, is not afraid to trade punches, even with a seemingly stronger opponent such as Corley. That willingness to scrap -- along with a flash-bulb smile, cocky swagger and considerable bravado -- gives Mayweather a marketability Corley lacks.

"I'm ready for that pay-per-view. I know it can happen," Mayweather said. "My last two fights, I've been giving fans exciting fights. I'll stand in the pocket and battle, showing fans I can fight."