Time to Appreciate Unloved Mayweather
It’s a familiar story. Floyd Mayweather, Jr., announces a fight, and fans, haters and pundits alike begin searching for reasons that this fight and this opponent might be the one to end Mayweather’s undefeated reign at the top of the sport.
Will his age finally show (he’s 36)? Will he display “ring rust” for the first time in his career after a typically long layoff? And can we maybe see a bit of Jose Luis Castillo – the one fighter who, over a decade ago, made Mayweather appear mortal – in the latest opponent?
Not many are bold enough to pick against Mayweather (44-0), mind you. However, there’s always speculation about how he could get caught, how this will be his roughest, toughest fight, and how, if everything goes according to plan for his inevitably younger opponent, he may finally taste defeat.
But, in the end, the story always seems to turn out the same way, with a dominant wipeout performance from the best fighter of this generation.
Saturday wasn’t Mayweather’s most creative fight. Robert Guerrero (31-2-1) came in with one game plan, the physical one he used in his rough-and-tumble win over Andre Berto last November, and, as a result, Mayweather didn’t have to do much in the way of adjustments. This played out how Mayweather's September 2011 fight with Victor Ortiz likely would have turned out had it not been for the infamous headbutt, hug, kiss and knockout.
Guerrero tried to walk Mayweather down and manhandle him in the corner. He succeeded somewhat in dictating the pace of the first two rounds, though Floyd’s vaunted defense enabled him to slip or deflect most of Guerrero’s attack. After two feeling-out rounds, however, Mayweather began timing Guerrero and nailing him repeatedly with straight right hands. By the latter half of the fight, Guerrero was flummoxed, battered and found himself getting caught with flush shots when he threw and when he didn’t throw – the painful quandary almost all Mayweather opponents face eventually.
In the end, Mayweather won a unanimous decision, with all three judges scoring the bout 117-111 and moved to 44-0 (RCS was less charitable toward Guerrero, scoring it a 120-108 shutout for Mayweather).
Floyd said he would fight again in September, and talk of a potential showdown with young Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez began immediately. There are hurdles standing in the way of that fight, most notably the size disparity between the fighters (Canelo is a natural junior middleweight while Mayweather has only fought twice at 154 pounds). However, even if the fight can be made, the manhandling of Guerrero should give Alvarez pause. It would undoubtedly be an enormous payday, but, at this point, he seems tailor-made to be picked apart by Floyd.
But Canelo’s a subject for another day.
For now, true sports fans, those who can appreciate the transcendence of rare athletic mastery, should simply savor the otherworldly talent on display every time Floyd Mayweather steps into the ring.
Sure, he’s a controversial and often unlovable, if not despicable, figure. He’s created myriad distractions that take away from his in-ring talent. To some, he’s the flamboyant, obnoxious showman who turned HBO’s 24/7 into must-see TV. Or he’s the “woman-beater,” as Ruben Guerrero, Robert’s father and trainer, called him at the pre-fight press conference (Mayweather served two months in jail last summer for assaulting the mother of two of his children).
But, without excusing any of his behavior outside of the ring, his continued dominance inside the ring and defiance of father time is a rare thing in any sport and worth appreciating.
When the next fight is announced, whether it’s against Canelo, Amir Khan, Devon Alexander or someone else, the questions and doubts will pop up again. But, most likely, it’ll be the same ending for Floyd Mayweather, Jr.