LAS VEGAS – Just when it seemed Father Time had finally caught up with boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather, the welterweight world champion found a way to evade his grasp once more on Saturday night.
Over 12 systematically surgical rounds, the 36-year-old Mayweather displayed the dominance and crafty guile befitting a pound-for-pound king in a unanimous decision victory over rugged challenger Robert Guerrero at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“Everyone was saying at age 36, I wasn’t as sharp and my defense wasn’t as sharp,” Mayweather said after the fight. “I’ve been in with some of the best, and I’m going to keep giving fans exciting fights.”
With the WBC and Ring Magazine titles at stake, Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs) defended his Las Vegas home turf with the artful resolve of a master technician, ducking and dipping in and out of traffic while peppering Guerrero with a variety of counter right hands.
“Robert was a warrior. He was trying to press the attack but I had good work for the fight,” Mayweather said about his preparation. “Young, strong guys. That’s what I needed, and there wasn’t much he could do. I felt comfortable tonight in the ring.”
New York’s Julie Lederman and the Nevada duo of Jerry Roth and Duane Ford scored the bout the same, 117-111 for Mayweather.
Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KOs), from Gilroy, Calif., was hoping to replicate his performance against Andre Berto last November, when he muscled the former titleholder into the ropes and forced him into a streetfight.
Almost immediately, Guerrero locked arms with Mayweather and used his free arm to swing to the body and to the head. Guerrero’s right hook and left cross also scored in the earlygoing, resulting the Mexican contingent chanting his last name and wondering if they were witnessing the upset of upsets on Cinco de Mayo weekend.
But with the WBC and Ring Magazine titles at stake, Mayweather defended his Las Vegas home turf with the artful resolve of a master technician, ducking and dipping in and out of traffic with almost clairvoyant head movement and peppering Guerrero with a variety of counter right hands and body shots downstairs.
“He hit me with great body shots. That’s why he’s undefeated. God has a plan for me, and it wasn’t to beat Floyd Mayweather, but instead, it was here to inspire all these people,” Guerrero, a 30-year-old devout Christian, said.
Guerrero was then asked if Mayweather was better than advertised.
“Yeah, a little better than I thought,” Guerrero said. “I thought I was gonna catch him, but he was on his game tonight. I’m gonna keep fighting, and hopefully after Floyd Mayweather retires, I’m gonna get that shot again.”
Though Guerrero stayed undeterred throughout the fight and continued to press forward with right jabs, left crosses, and the opportunistic right hook, his southpaw attack was rendered ineffective by Mayweather’s ring generalship. With his back brushing against the ropes, Mayweather seemed to find just enough real estate to pivot out of trouble.
“He was barely slipping by the punches,” Guerrero said. “I landed some good shots on him. Floyd’s a great fighter.”
With his confidence increasing round by round, Mayweather began to square up with his hands down in front of his foe, then coiling like a cobra out of a sprinter’s stance to thrash him with more right hands. By the sixth frame, Guerrero began to bleed around the left eye, a badge of honor accompanied with the dubious reminder that the champion was scoring with near-impunity.
Mayweather then coasted to the finish line, becoming increasingly accurate as a courageous Guerrero began to tire under the staccato potshots from the pound-for-pound king. After the fight, he revealed that he injured his hand sometime between the sixth or seventh round.
“I was looking for the knockout, but I hurt my right hand. My hand is swollen,” Mayweather said.
In May of last year, Mayweather took more punishment than usual in a points victory over Miguel Cotto, even braving through a bloody nose in the process. As a result, he replaced his uncle Roger with his father, Floyd Sr., who returned to his son’s corner for the first time in 13 years.
“I was really happy to be back with my father,” Mayweather said. “I knew after the Cotto fight, I was getting hit too much and I felt like with my dad, I would get hit less. My defense was on point, and the less I got hit, the better.”
Mayweather served a two-month jail sentence after the Cotto fight for a domestic violence conviction and upon his release last summer, looked noticeably underweight, leading to more questions on whether his prime had passed.
“I wouldn’t wish being locked up on anyone,” Mayweather said. “That’s a rough position, being locked up 24 hours a day. Thankfully I’m home with my family.”
While Guerrero earned a career-high $3 million minimum, Mayweather took home a minimum of $32 million, according to Nevada State Athletic commission executive director Keith Kizer. Saturday marked the first of the champion’s six-fight, 30-month deal with Showtime reportedly worth upwards of $200 million.
As far as the identity of his next opponent, many have clamored for Mexican 154-pound champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in September, but Mayweather was unsure at the moment.
“I don’t know who I want to fight right now,” Mayweather said. “Let me rest first and go over and talk about it with [advisers] Al [Haymon] and Leonard [Ellerbe].
ABNER MARES TKO9 DANIEL PONCE DE LEON
WBC featherweight world title
Former junior featherweight titleholder Abner Mares (26-0-1, 14 KOs) of Hawaiian Gardens, Calif., opened his featherweight campaign with a ninth-round stoppage of incumbent Daniel Ponce de Leon (44-5, 35 KOs).
Though Ponce de Leon, from West Covina, Calif., via Cuauhtemoc, Mex., came into the fight with the established power at the 126-pound limit, it was Mares who scored the first knockdown of the fight with a hard left hook and sweeping right hand in the closing seconds of the second round.
Ponce de Leon rose to his feet, but soon found Mares’s ring generalship and movement a quandary for his flat-footed style. In the eighth round, the defending champion showed signs of life and attempted to turn the tide. But Mares would close the show with a flurry in the ninth.
As Ponce de Leon grappled with Mares on the inside, the challenger unleashed a short right hand that put the champion on the seat of his pants. As Ponce de Leon rose to his feet on shaky ground, Mares teed off with three looping right hands and a successive string of shots that forced referee Jay Nady to pronounce the fight over at 2:20.
“I dedicate this fight to my dad and all of Mexico,” said Mares, whose father suffered a stroke last month. “I had to mix it up against a fighter like this. He only had one gameplan, to push, push push. I had to change it up on him, and he got confused.”
Mares admitted it was tough to fight Ponce de Leon, whom he considers a close friend.
“It was so tough,” Mares said. “When I knocked him down, I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ It’s hard to keep hitting a friend.”
Meanwhile, Ponce de Leon had a different perspective on the bout.
“He shouldn’t have stopped the fight,” he said. “I don’t want to discredit Mares. He caught me, but I definitely think I was winning the fight, and I want a rematch with him.”
LEO SANTA CRUZ TKO5 ALEXANDER MUÑOZ
Vacant USBA junior featherweight regional title
Leo Santa Cruz (24-0-1, 14 KOs) of Los Angeles overwhelmed Alexander Muñoz (36-5, 28 KOs) of Caracas, Venezuela, stopping him in five one-sided rounds. Despite the fight being Santa Cruz’s debut at the 122-pound limit, he dwarfed Muñoz as they faced each other at the opening bell.
In round three, a couple crushing left hooks to the body from Santa Cruz had the Venezuelan backing up. However, Santa Cruz cut off the ring and a relentless barrage of shots put Muñoz on the canvas. Though he would rise to his feet, Santa Cruz immediately went back to work, stunning Muñoz in the fourth frame before the bell.
The end would come one round later, as a powerful right hand followed by another rangy left had Muñoz hunching into the ropes. Muñoz’s corner then threw in the towel, and referee Vic Drakulich recognized the retirement at 1:05.
“I’m happy about this fight,” said Santa Cruz, who dedicated the win to his lupus-stricken brother Roberto. “This was what I’ve been training so hard for. I want to give a good show for the fans and that’s what I did. I trained really hard in the gym, and my weight was good.”
Muñoz was gracious in defeat, but cited the junior featherweight division being too big for the former 115-pound titlist.
“The weight was too much for me,” Muñoz said. “Santa Cruz is very good but he has room to improve because he took a lot of punches…I’m going back to bantamweight.”
Santa Cruz agreed with his opponent’s assessment. “I need to work on my defense a little bit and my head movement,” he said. “Sometimes I get carried away and just want to bang.”
J’LEON LOVE SD10 GABRIEL ROSADO
Vacant NABF middleweight regional title
In a tactical affair that turned into a brawl, J’Leon Love (16-0, 8 KOs) of Las Vegas got off the canvas to edge Philadelphia’s Gabriel Rosado (21-7, 13 KOs) by controversial split decision. After a relatively seesaw first half of the fight, Rosado sent Love to the canvas with a right hand as the two exchanged in the closing seconds of the sixth round.
Love recovered, but appeared to have lost too much ground to get back in the fight, as Rosado continued to stagger him several times. However, Dave Moretti (95-94 Love) and Herb Santos (97-92 Love) outnumbered Glenn Trowbridge, who scored the bout 95-94 for Rosado.
“I just fought a guy who has world championship experience,” Love said. “I thought I put up a good fight. It’s a good experience being able to fight a guy like that. I got dropped. He caught me and I didn’t see the punch. After that, I had to step it up and had to fight back. I was proud of my performance…It takes something extra to come back from something like that.”
Rosado’s displeasure with the judging was evident in his reply.
“I felt like I won the fight,” Rosado said. “The fans and everyone here knows. Me and J’Leon can only get in the ring and fight. We can’t control the judges. My performance spoke volumes tonight. I don’t think I need to prove myself against him again, but I’ll fight him if I have to.”
RONALD GAVRIL TKO3 ROBERTO YONG
Ronald Gavril (4-0, 3 KOs) of Las Vegas earned a third-round technical knockout of a game Roberto Yong (5-7-2, 4 KOs). Gavril commenced the final series with a debilitating body shot to the Phoenix fighter’s midsection and followed it up with an uncontested three-punch combination upstairs. Referee Russell Mora saw enough and stopped the fight at 2:12.
LUIS ARIAS MD4 DONYIL LIVINGSTON
In an entertaining scrap between former highly regarded amateurs, Luis Arias (5-0, 3 KOs) outworked Donyil Livingston (8-3-1, 4 KOs) of Palmdale, Calif., by majority decision. Despite their pre-professional pedigrees, both fighters displayed a propensity to square up and exchange power shots throughout the six frames. Lisa Giampa’s 57-57 score was overruled by Bob Bennett (58-56) and Al Lefkowitz (58-55), who both saw it for Arias, now based in Las Vegas via Milwaukee.
BADOU JACK TKO3 MICHAEL GBENGA
Las Vegas-based Badou Jack (14-0, 10 KOs) stopped Michael Gbenga (13-8, 13 KOs) of Silver Springs, Md., at 2:26 in the third round on the strength of a two-fisted attack, highlighted by a solid right hand to the beltline. As Gbenga dropped to one knee, he complained to Mora that the blow was illegal, but the plea fell on deaf ears and the referee waved off the fight.
LANELL BELLOWS TKO4 MATTHEW GARRETSON
Hometown fighter Lanell Bellows (4-0-1, 4 KOs) opened the card with a one-sided beating of Matthew Garretson (2-1, 1 KO) of Charleston, W.V. Referee Kenny Bayless called a halt to the bout at 0:32 of the fourth and final round he determined that Garretson had incurred too much punishment.