Despite being 36 years old, ring rust couldn’t prevent Floyd Mayweather Jr. from turning in another masterful performance Saturday night.
In a highly-anticipated bout billed as “May Day,” Mayweather (44-0, 26 KO) dominated game Bay Area fighter Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero to retain his WBC welterweight championship via unanimous decision from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Maywather was the “Ghostbuster” as he picked Guerrero apart with crisp, accurate punches throughout their 12-round fight – all while displaying the defensive mastery that made him an elusive fighter throughout much of his career.
After enduring a surprising amount of punishment from Miguel Cotto in his last fight, Mayweather called upon his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., to help him regain his old defensive style.
The father/son tangent proved effective, as Mayweather never allowed Guerrero to land as much leather as Cotto did last May.
Judges Duane Ford, Julie Lederman and Jerry Roth all scored the bout 117-111 in Mayweather’s favor. SFBay had Mayweather winning 118-110.
Mayweather, who also won the vacant Ring Magazine welterweight title, said after the bout that he was blessed to be in the position that he’s currently in and thanked his team and all his fans for their support:
“It’s been a roller coaster ride for 17 years to be at the top. I’m blessed, man. Without the fans and the media, I wouldn’t be where I’m at.”
Pound-for-pound kingpin Mayweather, who made his first in-ring appearance since serving a two-month stint in jail last June following a domestic abuse conviction, operated like a surgeon throughout the bout, landing his lead right hand with a vengeance.
Mayweather drew blood by the eighth round, opening up a cut on Guerrero’s left eye and knocking his foe’s head sideways with a flush right haymaker.
While it became target practice by the 10th round, Mayweather injured his right hand midway through the fight. He said that despite the injury, he kept throwing it in hopes of producing a knockout:
“I was trying to give the fans what they wanted to see. And of course, it was blood, sweat, and tears tonight. [Guerrero’s] a tough competitor. I take my hat off to him.”
Despite losing by a wide margin, Gilroy native and interim WBC champion Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 KO) never lost focus and kept pursuing Mayweather. He successfully countered Mayweather’s potshots during the first three rounds and landed solid body punches whenever Mayweather tried to stick and move.
Guerrero even caught Mayweather with a flush straight left hand against the ropes during the second round. Despite successfully backing Mayweather against the ropes throughout the fight, Guerrero failed to let his hands go in hopes of turning the tide of the bout with one shot.
Guerrero had no excuses afterwards and showed true sportsmanship by acknowledging Mayweather as a great fighter. He also said he would be back and thanked God for receiving the opportunity to challenge the pound-for-pound king:
“I came up short tonight, but you know what? I’m still going to praise God with all my heart … My mission is to spread the Gospel – that’s what I’m here for. And I hope I touched a lot of hearts.”
Mayweather landed 41 percent of his punches (195 out of 476 thrown), according to Compubox – compared to just 19 percent (113 out of 581) for Guerrero.
The loss to Mayweather was Guerrero’s first since losing a split decision to Gamaliel Diaz in December 2005. Since then, Guerrero went on a 15-fight winning streak, which included a sixth-round knockout of Diaz in their June 2006 rematch.
Guerrero also won titles at featherweight and junior lightweight as well as two interim titles at lightweight during that period.
He moved up to welterweight this past July and impressively defeated Selcuk Aydin to win the interim WBC title. He then earned his shot at Mayweather with a gritty victory over Andre Berto in their Fight-of-the-Year-caliber slugfest in November.
The bout was almost jeopardized, however, when Guerrero was arrested last month at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York for attempting to board a flight to Vegas with an unloaded gun.
He was charged with one count of criminal possession of a firearm and three counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He is scheduled to return to court on May 14 and if convicted, faces up to four years in prison.
Despite the hand injury, Mayweather said he still plans to fight in September in the second bout of his six-fight, 30-month deal he signed with Showtime/CBS in February. The consensus opponent may be Mexican super welterweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KO).
But for now, Mayweather says he will spend time with his family while discussing the issue of his next opponent with his team:
“I’m not taking nothing away from ‘Canelo.’ I’m not saying the fight is not going to happen. But at this particular time, you know, I’d rather enjoy my victory, go home … Then we take it from there.”