Sunday, June 24, 2018
Sports

Still never missing a beat or tasting defeat

LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather's latest triumph followed a familiar pattern. For weeks, he toyed with Robert Guerrero, made him angry and jumpy, drew him 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 foes riled up, overaggressive, then he turns their aggression into weakness. That is the other part, the physical part, the feet that dance and hands that flash and the dazzling precision.

Guerrero suffered from both Mayweather's mind games and his right hands. 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, by unanimous decision, scored 117-111 by all three judges. He did so despite hurting his right hand in the middle rounds.

"What else can I say?" Mayweather said, as he appeared to thank half of those assembled in Grand Garden Arena. "We did it again."

Mayweather made it look easy, landing 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. Guerrero was beaten, bloodied, bludgeoned.

Talk turned again 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 his status among the greats. Regardless, his precious zero in the loss column remained intact.

"That's why he's undefeated," said Guerrero, 30.

Most opponents believe they can wear Mayweather down, out-tough him in a brawl. But the more the fight wore on, the more Mayweather picked Guerrero apart, like in the fifth round, with a series of right hooks. When Guerrero lunged back, Mayweather ducked punches and slipped out of corners. He always seemed a step ahead.

By the eighth, blood dripped from Guerrero's left eye down his face.

In recent bouts, Mayweather dodged and ducked less and engaged opponents more. This left him more exposed, slightly. It seemed reasonable to wonder if age played a role. The champion turned 36 in February — Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes and Joe Louis all fell in unexpected defeats at almost the exact same age.

And in the year since Mayweather's last ring walk, he went to jail for more than two months, made peace with his father, Floyd Sr. (who was in his son's corner Saturday for the first time in 13 years); watched both his father and his uncle and longtime trainer, Roger Mayweather, endure health issues; and signed a three-year deal with Showtime that could be worth $250 million.

If all this distracted Mayweather, he never showed it.

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