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Associated Press

LAS VEGAS - Floyd Mayweather told the world he was still its best boxer despite taking 21 months off, and he backed up every boast with every jab.

Mayweather overpowered the smaller, lighter Juan Manuel Marquez for a unanimous decision late Saturday night, maintaining his perfect record in his comeback from retirement.

Mayweather (40-0, 25 KOs) knocked down Marquez in the second round then peppered him with damaging shots. He had a significant height and strength advantage against Marquez, a 130-pounder 18 months ago who moved up two weight classes for the big payday.

"Marquez is tough as nails," Mayweather said. "He's a great little man. He was really hard to fight, and he kept taking some unbelievable shots."

At Friday's weigh-in, Marquez (50-5-1) was 4 pounds lighter than Mayweather, who paid a $600,000 penalty for missing the bout weight of 144 pounds. Though Marquez stayed on his feet for 12 rounds, Mayweather's win was never in doubt.

"He's a great small man," Mayweather said. "Don't forget, I came from a small weight class, too, so I know when you're in front of a great fighter."

Mayweather landed 290 of his 493 blows (59 percent) while allowing 12 percent of Marquez's 583 punches to land. Mayweather landed more jabs in each round than Marquez landed total punches, and only 16 percent of Marquez's power shots even got to Mayweather.

Mayweather often appeared to be toying with Marquez, at 36 generally considered among the world's top fighters. Just 18 months ago, Marquez lost a narrow decision to unofficial pound-for-pound champion Manny Pacquiao, likely Mayweather's top choice for his next bout.

Pacquiao accepted a similar mismatch last year when he demolished Oscar De La Hoya, who acknowledges his skills have diminished. Mayweather clearly is still at the top of his game.

"I've been off for two years, so I felt like it took me a couple of rounds to really know I was back in the ring again," Mayweather, 32, said. "I know I'll get better."