Undefeated pound-for-pound king Mayweather makes a triumphant return to the ring
By Mike Sempervive, Sunday, May 5, 2013
After a year-long layoff, which included much personal and professional change, Floyd "Money" Mayweather returned to the ring on Saturday night, and dominated Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, winning a 12-round unanimous decision, in Las Vegas, to remain undefeated.
In front of a crowd of 15,880 (with 8,292 additional watching on adjacent closed-circuit), paying $9,922,350, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mayweather weathered initial pressure by Guerrero, and increased his hand speed and movement as the fight went on, easily racking up points by stifling both the southpaw’s offensive charges, and counters off of defense, and landing pummeling straight right hands.
All three judges scored the fight 117-111.
With the victory, Mayweather runs his record to 44 (26)-0 (0), 22-0 in title fights, and retains his World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight (147-pound) championship, as well as winning the recognition as The Ring magazine World welterweight champion (which had been previously vacant).
Guerrero, 30, came into the bout with the recognition of being the “interim” WBC champion, due to Mayweather’s inactivity following his bout last May against Miguel Cotto, and won the right to face Mayweather with an exciting unanimous decision victory over Andre Berto. With Saturday night’s loss, his first since 2005, the Gilroy, California fighter falls to 31 (18)-1 (0)-1 draw, and 2 no contests.
Mayweather began the bout devoid of movement, choosing to stand in and respond to Guerrero’s charges by counter punching and fighting inside. That initially gave Guerrero confidence, and he had won round two on most observers scorecards by throwing combinations, and landing to the body during clinches.
That success was fleeting, though, as Mayweather really began to feel Guerrero out, finding his range, and increasing his movement, as the bout transpired. Using careful head movement, and a good left jab to set up hard straight hands to Guerrero’s face, while pushing himself into his challengers left side to stifle his counter left hands. When Guerrero was actually able to land a direct hard shot, it was only one at a time, and usually followed soon after by a head-snapping Mayweather right.
“My father told me before the fight, ‘I tell you what’s gonna get him. The right hand.’ All I did was go out there and deliver the game plan that was given to me,” said “Money” afterwards.
In round eight, Mayweather busted Guerrero’s left eye open with a punch, that Guerrero’s corner tried to argue was from an elbow. “Money” continued to evade any efforts offered, seemingly increasing his speed any time Guerrero tried vainly to do the same.
After the bout, Mayweather said at some point he hurt his right hand, but got through it without an issue. His father claimed earlier at the presser that his son would be fighting again in September, which Mayweather didn’t deny, only saying he would be “taking some time off.”
This was Mayweather’s first fight since last Cinco de Mayo’s unanimous decision victory over Miguel Cotto. Over the summer, the Michigan native-turned Las Vegas resident served two months of a 90 days prison term, following taking a plea bargain in an assault case against his ex-girlfriend, and mother of two of his kids, Josie Harris.
Aside from this being his first fight out of prison, and the obligatory whispers of if and when the 36-year old superstar will show signs of serious age, there were a few other question marks for the Mayweather camp coming into the night, including the decision to bring back his estranged trainer, and father, Floyd Senior, to help lead him into the fight, and not his uncle Roger, who has trained him for the last thirteen years.
Additionally, Roger was also not selected by the younger Floyd to appear as a corner man for the bout, who instead chose the CEO of Mayweather Promotions/his manager Leonard Ellerbe to be the chief second to his father, and cutman Rafael Garcia. Mayweather claimed Roger’s health issues with sugar diabetes may cause him to have vision issues during the bout, which was a decision that caused uneasy feelings for some - including his father, who railed against it, but knew that it was an issue that was out of his control.
During the post-introduction instructions by referee Robert Byrd prior to the bout, Floyd Senior and Ruben Guerrero, also his son’s father/trainer, jawed back and forth at each others, as their sons stared each other down. At the post-fight presser, Senior was asked how his relationship is with Floyd, and he says “sometimes you have to grind it out... some relationships.” But their common bond is the sport. “That’s always been our main thing anyway... I love boxing. He loves boxing.”
In February, Mayweather went through a big professional upheaval, as he joined with his promotional partners at Golden Boy Promotions (GBP) and left longtime television home Home Box Office (HBO), to sign a six-fight, 30-month, deal with Showtime, which could earn him in excess of a quarter-million dollars, over its duration.
The number of fights is quite the jump from the six fights he’s had in the last six years. But, as part of that deal, Mayweather’s already well-financed and corporately-sponsored Golden Boy Promotions hooked up into a powerful promotional agreement, facilitated by the network, consisting of a wide-ranging, and multi-platformed, media blitz.
Using the synergy it has as its disposal, Showtime’s parent company, CBS, aired many commercial spots, especially during sporting events - and most notably throughout their coverage of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, which garnered its best ratings in almost two decades, averaging over eight million viewers a day.
The “Tiffany Network” also aired a one-hour, L.L. Cool J-narrated, special entitled, Mayweather, last Saturday night. The feature, which helped to primarily promote Mayweather, as well as introducing Guerrero, may have been the high watermark for the sport’s promotion on national television, but its paltry ratings (1.89 million viewers, and the lowest rated primetime show on the network for the month of April), probably didn’t do too much to increase pay-per-view buys.
Showtime, itself, heavily pushed the bout in several forms including building up the MayDay hashtag, well prior to fight night, from its Twitter handle, @SHOSports. The subscriber-based channel also aired the one-hour 30 Days of May post-incarceration documentary, as well as the three-part documentary-styled hype show, All Access.
The latter program also aired in repeats on the all-sports cable outlet, CBS Sports Network, which did their part by airing live pre and post-fight press conferences, Friday’s weigh-in, and several past high-profile Mayweather fights, in addition to coverage on its various “talking heads” programs (such as Jim Rome’s ROME show) dedicating time to the main event.
The company’s still-virginal radio arm, CBS Sports Radio Network, was also quite busy airing interviews with the fighters, their camps, and boxing observers, as well as offering contests for tickets and trip giveaways to Las Vegas.
Both fighters had been quite ubiquitous when it came to promoting the bout, constantly making the rounds on most sports television and radio outlets, as well as mainstream shows. While both did their share of trash-talking on each other, during the build-up, the only real fireworks came from Guerrero’s father, Ruben, at Thursday evening’s press conference, held at the MGM Grand Hollywood. After a relatively pedestrian affair, filled with Golden Boy Promotions (GBP) pleasantries, the elder Guerrero stoked the fire in an animated fashion, calling out Mayweather for his past crimes:
"We're going to beat up that woman beater, the one that beat up his wife, man. His wife in front of his kids! You guys like that shit? You like this guy? This woman beater? He must have learned it from his Dad. Women beaters, baby. We're going to beat that woman beater. We'll see how he's going to like it. He's going to get it from a real man. Damn women beaters. We're going to beat that woman beater down. I'm serious!"
This led to Floyd Mayweather Senior attempting to go after Guerrero, before he was intercepted by GBP fighter/executive Bernard Hopkins. The younger Mayweather shook off Guerrero’s taunts, though the verbiage shouldn’t be unfamiliar to him. In the lead-up to the January 20, 2001 super-featherweight (130-pound) title tilt with Diego Corrales, Mayweather seared the late fighter over his being sentenced to 14 months in prison for assaulting his then-pregnant wife, Maria, saying, “I’m doing it for all of the battered women across America.”
Mayweather’s time in the Clark County Nevada Detention Center was noted for an appeal by the fighter, after twelve days, for an early release. Citing being “dehydrated” from a lack of water, a mere 800 calorie-a-day diet, and lack of training facilities. Justice of the Peace Melissa A. Saragosa denied the appeal, stating Mayweather’s issues were “self-induced,” adding he was the one who was choosing not to eat most of the prison food, and had ample ability to work out - even if he found the conditions beneath his normal standards.
Saragosa was also the judge that allowed Mayweather to serve out his sentence (along with a yearlong domestic violence counseling program) after his May 5, 2012 bout with Miguel Cotto - which, as of that decision, had not been booked yet. That decision was panned by many, as it was perceived to be favorable treatment due to the amount of revenue Mayweather’s fights bring into the state of Nevada, during those weekends. Chief Deputy District Attorney Lisa Luziach claimed they negotiated the fight after he was sentenced, arguing that fights get rescheduled frequently. Adding, “The court gave him until today to turn himself in and surrender and serve his sentence. The state’s position is that is that that’s what he should be doing today — turning himself in serve his sentence, just like anybody else would have to.”
During said bout, Mayweather dominated Cotto winning a 12-round unanimous decision, but excited viewers as he put himself in some peril late in the bout by standing in and exchanging with the Puerto Rican star, when he most certainly could have just fought defensively, and cruised to the victory.
A run-in with the law last month had actually caused the fight to be put in jeopardy - only this time it was by “The Ghost.”
On April 3, Guerrero was arrested, while boarding a flight at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, for illegally possessing an unlicensed, unloaded, handgun, and several high-capacity bullet magazines. Earlier this year, New York state upgraded its penalty for carrying an unregistered weapon from a class-A misdemeanor, into a class-E felony. Released on his own recognizance, the four counts Guerrero was charged with could carry up to a maximum of four years in prison. His next court hearing in Queens, New York, will be held on May 14.
Floyd Mayweather’s pay-per-view history and performance:
06-25-05 - HBO - Floyd Mayweather-Arturo Gatti - 365,000 - $16.5 million
04-08-06 - HBO - Floyd Mayweather-Zab Judah - 375,000 – $16.875 million
10-21-06 - HBO - Floyd Mayweather-Carlos Baldomir - 325,000 - $16.25 million
05-05-07 - HBO - Floyd Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya - 2,450,000 - $136.9 million
12-08-07 - HBO - Floyd Mayweather-Ricky Hatton - 920,000 - $48 million
09-19-09 - HBO - Floyd Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez - 1,100,000 - $55.6 million
05-01-10 - HBO - Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley - 1,400,000 - $78.33 million
09-17-11 - HBO - Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz - 1,250,000 - $78.44 million
05-05-12 - HBO - Floyd Mayweather-Miguel Cotto - 1,500,000 - $94 million
In the main bout of the undercard, undefeated Mexican-born rising star Abner Mares stopped Daniel Ponce De Leon, in a slugfest, to win the World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight (126-pound) championship, his third world title in his third weight division, in as many years.
Mares 26 (14)-0 (0), a former bantamweight (118-pound) and super-bantamweight (122-pound) champion, who was making his debut at featherweight, dropped De Leon late in the second round, and again with a right hand in the ninth. After the second knockdown, Mares trapped De Leon in the corner, and landed blows repeatedly, until referee Jay Nady jumped in - which some fans and observers believed he did too soon.
The two fighters combined to land 290 of 1,062 punches thrown in the nine rounds, with 275 of those being power shots (they threw 660, combined).
With the loss, De Leon’s record falls to 44 (35)-5 (2). He did rally back in the middle rounds of the bout, but was not able to hold up to the pressure of Mares, who is rapidly gaining steam to be recognized amongst the sport’s pound-for-pound elite.
De Leon, the second ranked 126-pound fighter in the world by The Ring magazine, had won the title last September via technical decision, when an accidental headbutt caused a premature stoppage, in the eighth round, against then-champion Jhonny Gonzalez.
In the second bout on the PPV undercard, super bantamweight (122-pound) Leo Santa Cruz remained undefeated with a lopsided pounding of former World Boxing Association (WBA) super-flyweight (115-pound) champion Alexander Munoz, via 5th-round TKO.
The Mexican-born 27-year old scored knockdowns in both the third and fifth rounds, and completely overwhelmed the smaller veteran, landing 219 of 424 punches (52%) - including 183 of 323 power punches (57%) - to claim the minor United States Boxing Association title, an International Boxing Federation-promoted belt.
With the victory Cruz, represented by Mayweather Promotions, raises his spotless record to 24 (14)-0 (0)-1 draw, while Munoz falls to 36 (28)-5 (1), marking the first time he’s ever been stopped.
In the first telecast fight on the pay-per-view portion of the broadcast, another Team Mayweather promoted prospect J’Leon Love rallied back from his first career knock down to squeek out a 12-round split decision victory over Gabriel Rosado, and claim the vacant North American Boxing Federation (a WBC-promoted minor) middleweight (160-pound) championship.
Facing his most difficult fight, to date, the 25-year old Roger Mayweather trained Michigan native was dropped with a counter over-hand right in round sixth, and had to rally back from shaky middle rounds to claim a split decision, that many boxing scribes and fans at ringside had thought was slightly in Rosado’s favor.
Two judges ruled the bout 95-94, one for each man, while judge Herb Santos scored the bout 97-92 in favor of Love, giving the Las Vegas-based fighter eight rounds, a decision which many observers disagreed with. “He (Santos) should lose his job, man.” Adding, “That’s crazy. How you going to score a fight 97-92 when I have a knockdown, and have him hurt several times?” asked Rosdao in disbelief, at the press conference.
Love now moves to 16 (8)-0, while the Philadelphia-based Rosado, 27, drops to 21 (13)-7 (2), losing his second fight in a row, following a January 19 TKO-7 loss to WBA 160-pound champion Gennady Golovkin at Madison Square Garden.