With Mental and Physical Mastery, Mayweather Stays Undefeated. Floyd Mayweather Jr won his 44th consecutive fight, with a unanimous points decision over Robert Guerrero at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s latest boxing triumph followed a familiar pattern. For weeks, he toyed with Robert Guerrero, made him angry, made him jumpy, drew him right into the usual vortex of opponent overconfidence.
Guerrero insisted, over and over, that Mayweather would not get to him.
By then, he already had.
That is part of Mayweather’s ring brilliance, the mental part. He wants his opponents riled up, overaggressive, and then he turns their aggression into weakness. That is the other part, the physical part, the feet that dance and the hands that flash and the dazzling precision.
Guerrero suffered from both, suffered from Mayweather’s mind games and from Mayweather’s right hands and right hooks. Early into this World Boxing Council welterweight title fight, it became clear which boxer was undefeated — the one in the audacious yellow shorts, the best boxer of his generation, a candidate for one of the best boxers of all time. Mayweather won easily, handily, by a unanimous decision, scored 117-111 by all three judges, and he did so despite hurting his right hand in the middle rounds.
“What else can I say?” Mayweather said, and he appeared to personally thank half of those assembled in Grand Garden Arena. “We did it again.”
When it ended, Mayweather hardly celebrated. He thumped his chest and hugged his father and all but yawned. He made it look easy, and it had been. He had landed a staggering 60 percent of his power punches.
As Mayweather (44-0) stalked back to his corner after the 10th round, his eyes never left Guerrero (31-1-2), who refused to return the eye contact. He was beaten, bloodied, bludgeoned. He fell in line with so many other Mayweather opponents in that he promised to make the fight a rugged one. In some ways, it was rugged, as evidenced by the damage to Guerrero’s face.
Already, talk had turned to Mayweather’s choice of opposition, to whether he is simply better than all challengers or whether he picks the right guys at the right moments, and how that factored into his legacy and his status among the greats. Regardless, his precious zero in the loss column remained intact.
“That’s why he’s undefeated,” Guerrero said.
He added, in what qualified as a major understatement, that he was “a little better than I thought.”
Guerrero made his way into the ring first, clad in a “GOD is GREAT” T-shirt. Mayweather followed, the rapper Lil Wayne by his side, microphone in hand, performing “No Worries” before the action started. Mayweather wore yellow trunks that looked as if they had been made from snake skin with black trim.
The opening bell rang, and Guerrero attacked Mayweather as promised. He shot in close and held and grappled. As the rounds went on, though, Mayweather found his timing, and he tagged Guerrero from a safe distance, including with one right hand that sneaked between Guerrero’s gloves and snapped his head back.
Most opponents who fight Mayweather believe they can wear him down, out-tough him, win by way of brawl. The more the fight wore on, the more Mayweather picked Guerrero apart, like in the fifth round, when he struck Guerrero with a series of right hooks. When Guerrero lunged back, Mayweather ducked punches and slipped out of corners. He always seemed a step ahead.
Between rounds, Guerrero’s father, Ruben, unleashed flurries of punches in the corner as he gave his son instructions. His son connected about as often in the ring.
By the seventh round, the crowd began to boo, the bout a clear mismatch. Guerrero looked tired, outclassed, overmatched, and his body had reddened from all the blows. He continued to press forward anyway, in search of the one shot that would change the tenor of the fight.
By the eighth, blood dripped from Guerrero’s left eye and down his face. Mayweather toyed with him, like a puppet master with a puppet, and he landed a roundhouse right hand that brought the crowd to its feet. Guerrero’s wife held their son close as tears welled in her eyes.
Mayweather pocketed $32 million this week, which tied his record for the highest single-fight purse in boxing history. He stood to earn millions more on the back end and land again near the top of Forbes’s list of highest-paid athletes; he ranked first in 2012, despite virtually no income from endorsements.
Mayweather remained well aware of the money accumulated and spent lavishly, and the boxer who owns a rare $500 bill continued to refer to the MGM by his preferred term: Mayweather Gets Money. His face and torso adorned the side of the hotel this week, visible for miles, under the headline “Home of the Champion.”
That champion, though, turned 36 in February, a number in boxing that has proved more unlucky than 13. Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes and Joe Louis all fell in unexpected defeats at almost the exact same age as Mayweather. Their vanquishers: Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, Ezzard Charles.
In his more recent bouts, Mayweather dodged and ducked less and engaged opponents more. This left him more exposed, if only slightly. Shane Mosley buckled him. Miguel Cotto bloodied him. Mayweather reasoned that he fought this way to endear himself to fans who long knocked him for his tactical brilliance, which translated at times to the more casual viewer as less exciting fights.
Still, it seemed reasonable to wonder if age had played a role, perhaps even the most prominent one. Mayweather started this camp later than usual, and he took more days off and absorbed a high level of punishment in sparring. His face was noticeably puffy. At one point, he sustained a black eye. The betting line dropped as the fight approached, a sign of diminished confidence in Mayweather — or the usual wishful thinking.
In the year since Mayweather’s last ring walk, he went to jail for more than two months; made peace with his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr.; watched both his father and his uncle and longtime trainer, Roger Mayweather, endure health problems; traded barbs with the rapper 50 Cent; and signed a three-year deal with Showtime that could be worth $250 million. If all this distracted Mayweather, he never showed it. He flashed his money, drove around in his expensive cars and allowed cameras to film him in a strip club. A regular day, it seems.
In nine Pay-Per-View bouts for HBO, Mayweather generated more than half a billion dollars in total revenue, a total of 9.6 million buys. The lead-up to this fight, though, seemed quieter than normal, the buzz, if not stifled, then muffled somewhat.
This being boxing, the promotion had its moments. Guerrero’s father went ballistic at the news conference, referring repeatedly to Mayweather as a “woman beater” for the incident that landed him in jail. This despite Guerrero’s own legal issues, which included a gun charge at the airport during a promotional tour through New York. At the weigh-in, the fathers continued to threaten each other and compare jail stints, and Mayweather Sr. made a slashing motion across his throat. Metta World Peace stood nearby, his name a contradiction.
It would be over soon enough, a bit of a yawner for those less inclined to celebrate Mayweather’s technical prowess in the ring, a study in precision for the purists.
“There was nothing he couldn’t do in there tonight,” his father said.