Floyd Mayweather Jr.: Those who appreciate the artistic side of boxing had to love what they saw on Satuday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Mayweather painted a masterpiece. Consider that Robert Guerrero, his opponent, is a very good, proven veteran with uncommon mental toughness. And Mayweather (44-0, 26 knockouts) made him look like he was utterly clueless. That’s how good he was. And it wasn’t just his defensive skills, for which he is known. Yes, he was as elusive as ever. Guerrero barely touched him, landing only 19 percent of his punches. Mayweather also picked his prey apart in clinical fashion, landing a ridiculous 60 percent of his power punches to win nine of the 12 rounds on all three cards. It was beautiful to watch even if his dominance precluded any significant drama. Mayweather, 36, said he plans to fight five more times. Enjoy it while you can. He’s a once-in-a-generation gem.
Robert Guerrero: The bad news is that a proud warrior was made to play the fool by the best fighter in the world. Guerrero (32-2-1, 18 KOs) never stopped trying – no surprise there – but the disparity in talent made it all but impossible for him to compete. So much for the momentum that Guerrero had established in his climb to elite status. The good news is that there is no shame in losing to Mayweather, who has done the same thing to so many others before Guerrero. I think fans generally give fighters a pass under these circumstances, as they seemed to do when Mayweather thrashed Juan Manuel Marquez. Marquez didn’t lose much respect and bounced back strongly. Guerrero is young (30) and strong willed. He has overcome plenty of adversity in the past, both personal and professional. You can bet he’ll be in the mix for more big fights in the near future. And don’t be surprised if he succeeds.
The fans: The fans seemed to fall into two camps after the Mayweather-Guerrero fight – those who praised Mayweather’s performance and those who were bored. I can relate to both. Of course, anyone who knows anything about boxing must appreciate Mayweather’s sublime demonstration of boxing. He was never more dominating. At the same time, the round-by-round repetitiveness and utter lack of competition left some fans frustrated. And I’m not talking about blood-thirsty fans who demand mayhem, although we all can relate to them. I’m talking about those who have a reasonable expectation of competitiveness, particularly if they pay to watch. Of course, it’s not Mayweather’s fault that he’s so much better than everyone else. At the same time, I believe he has a responsibility to the fans to face the best fighters in or around his division. I’m not sure he did that on Saturday night.
Who’s next?: The most intriguing opponent might be Canelo Alvarez but that matchup probably won’t materialize until next year. A more likely immediate possibility is Amir Khan, who could share a ring with Mayweather before the end of this year. I know what you’re thinking: Khan? The chinless wonder? The Khan who was stopped by Danny Garcia last year and just struggled to beat Julio Diaz? C’mon. And, of course, you have a point. Khan has had mixed results. Still, I suspect that Khan might be a tough style matchup for Mayweather. The Englishman is one of the few fighters who can match Mayweather’s hand speed and athleticism. And he’s at his best fighting at a distance, as Mayweather is. Do I think Khan would win? No. He probably wouldn’t see the final bell. Do I think it could be interesting? Yes.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Abner Mares: The new WBC featherweight titleholder is one of the more underappreciated fighters. He isn’t great in any aspect of boxing but he doesn’t appear to have a significant weakness, as he has proved repeatedly. All he has done in three years is win major titles in three weight classes and defeat a gauntlet of elite opponents, including Vic Darchinyan in 2010, Joseph Agbeko (twice) in 2011, Anselmo Moreno last year and Daniel Ponce de Leon on the Mayweather-Guerrero card. Only a few active fighters can match his productivity over that period. Mares (26-0-1, 14 KOs) broke down Ponce de Leon before stopping him in a spectacular fashion in the ninth round, another important victory over a very good opponent. If he isn’t worthy of the pound-for-pound lists, he’s very close. And he’s only 27. We probably haven’t seen the best of Mares.
Klitschko KOs Pianeta: Wladimir Klitschko is similar to Mayweather in that the fans continue to buy into his fights even though his opponents have little to no chance of winning. Klitschko was at it again Saturday in Mannheim, where he stopped Italian Francesco Pianeta in six rounds. That was the giant Ukrainian’s 18th consecutive victory over nine years. Once again, no one outside of Klitschko’s family could give him a fight. That said, some choices are more interesting than others. I think Klitschko (60-3, 51 KOs) should pursue Tyson Fury in earnest in what would be a very big event in Europe but would also generate interest in the U.S. Of course, Klitschko would annihilate Fury, who demonstrated resilience but very little skill in his recent victory over former cruiserweight titleholder Steve Cunningham. The buildup would be fun because of Fury’s mouth, though. And that would create a considerable buzz come fight time. Who else could Klitschko fight and cause a stir?
Leo Santa Cruz(24-0-1, 14 KOs) turned in another entertaining performance in his first fight at junior featherweight, stopping former two-time junior bantamweight titleholder Alexander Munoz (36-5, 28 KOs) in five rounds on the Mayweather-Guerrero undercard. Santa Cruz hasn’t won anything resembling a defining fight but his high-volume punching is consistently fun to watch. … Not sure what fight judge Herb Santos was watching while we were watching J’Leon Love-Gabriel Rosado. Most of us at ringside thought Rosado (21-7, 13 KOs) did more than enough to win a 10-round decision, including a knockdown in Round 6. Santos’ score? Eight rounds to two (97-92) for Love, who won a split decision that was greeted with boos. Dave Moretti had 95-94 for Love (16-0, 8 KOs) while Glenn Trowbridge scored it for Rosado 95-94. …
Mayweather was on his best behavior at the post-fight news conference, saying nary a bad word about anyone. Perhaps his stint in jail did him some good. It was nice to see. … A fawning “reporter” at the news conference asked Mayweather to compare himself to another great fighter, Sugar Ray Leonard, among others. “Money” wouldn’t bite. He simply expressed his admiration for Leonard and his ilk, which again was the right thing to say. For the record, Leonard could do everything Mayweather can but he punched harder and had more of a fighter’s heart. Mayweather is great but he’s no Leonard. … Another big winner was Floyd Mayweather Sr., who took over from brother Roger Mayweather in Floyd Jr’s corner. The younger Mayweather took more punches than he normally does against Miguel Cotto last year, which prompted him to bring his defense-minded dad back into the fold. The result was a brilliant defensive performance.