Not a "Ghost" of a chance with Mayweather
"May Day" a heyday for "Money May
Ringside by Chris Cozzone
Photos by Mary Ann Owen/ BoxinginLasVegas.com
Thirty-six-year-old Floyd "Money" Mayweather may yet grow old.
But last night was not his time to do so.
Needing just two rounds to expel the specters of rust and age, Mayweather proved the naysayers wrong, yet again, by defending his pound-for-pound crown and one of the welterweight belts with a one-sided spanking of Robert "Ghost" Guerrero. The challenger proved dreadfully ineffectual against the drearily masterful, transforming what was a hoped-for war, into something of a sparring session, which evoked sporadic waves of boos from an anxious crowd.
The fight, billed as "May Day," became less about a billing and more of a distress signal for Team Guerrero, as the rounds progressed. Despite two rounds of effective aggression behind an eager left hand, the Gilroy southpaw mounted a charged attack. That lasted as long as it took Mayweather to perfect a flawless plan. Once that happened, faith, family, not even the firearm that got him in hot water in New York last month, was going to stick a victory in Guerrero's pocket, Floyd's crown upon his head and another belt around his waist.
The first of a six-bout contract between "Money" and Showtime, Mayweather-Guerrero capped off an otherwise-pleasing show promoted by Golden Boy at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The 15,880 in attendance, however, satisfied with dominating performances of Abner Mares over Ponce De Leon, and Leo Santa Cruz over Alexander Munoz, bookended the Pay-Per-View telecast with boos, first jeering a bizarre decision that had J'Leon Love somehow outpointing Gabe Rosado, then finishing the night with apparent displeasure at the lack of action in the main event.
A five-to-one underdog, Guerrero walked to the ring wearing a "God is Great" T-shirt, to Tigres del Norte. Accompanied by Lil Wayne, who screeched out "No Worries," the ever-calm, ever-confident Mayweather ignored the boos and chewed his gum. During instructions, the two quietly faced off, while their respective dads, Floyd, Sr. and Ruben Guerrero, mouthed off to one another. Thankfully, the pops didn't figure into the equation from that point on, at least not against each other.
What did, however, was Guerrero's hunger, which lasted exactly two rounds.
Despite the apparent size difference, and looking like a jr. welter against the bigger, leaner Mayweather, the "Ghost" came out howling, hoping to pull off a haunting upset. Bulling into Mayweather, Guerrero landed the first clean shot of the night – a left – his aggression marking round one for the challenger.
Mayweather, unfortunately, was making mental notes and, throughout the second, had scratched out a can't-lose strategy. Mayweather started to make Guerrero miss in the second, while testing out a can't-miss right. By the third, the plan was perfected and, for all practical purposes, the fight was over.
What followed was nine dominating rounds. Guerrero poured on the aggression in the third, but the shots sailed harmlessly through the air. All the while, Mayweather potshotted holes through the Ghost's defense.
A big right snapped back Guerrero's head in the fourth. Holstering his cooling guns, Guerrero became a target for Mayweather, who was now moving freely, pulling the drawstrings tight on a custom-made trick bag. Hesitating in place or plowing forward both yielded similar results for the Ghost: a right tag by Mayweather. Over and over and over, the right found its mark.
The distinction between rounds began to blur, Guerrero's eyes began to redden and the confidence oozed out onto the canvas. Mayweather added liberal lateral movement in the sixth, further perplexing Guerrero – and further boring the crowd, which let loose with their first volley of boos in round eight. A clubbing right by Mayweather later in the round stifled the groaning for the time being. By the end of the round, Guerrero was beaten and an eventual knockout win, expected.
Only that didn't happen. Sometime during the ninth, it was later estimated, Mayweather snubbed his paw and the big rights began to lose their frequency. What did not diminish, though, was the mastery. Blocking Guerrero's attempts to turn the fight around, Mayweather added hooks to his battery.
The crowd lapsed into booing again in the tenth and eleventh stanzas. Still in control, Mayweather was satisfied to coast his way to a finish, coming alive only briefly in the 11th for a series of two-punch combos. Very little happened in the last round and, while a chunk of the crowd started to filter out of the arena, Mayweather continue to toy with his foe, taking time out with just seconds left to steal a glance at the clock on the screen above.
When the bell rang, Guerrero mystified the crowd by raising his arm. When his team raised him up, the bafflement turned into laughter.
Thankfully, the end result wasn't another Pacquiao-Bradley (or Love-Rosado), with all three judges, Julie Lederman, Duane Ford and Jerry Roth, scoring it for Mayweather, 117-111.
"He's a true warrior and I take my hat off to him," said Mayweather, now 44-0, 26 Kos. "I needed my father tonight – he provided the defense. It's hit-and-not-get-hit again. If the knockout comes, I'll take it."
Scoring an astounding 60 percent of his power punches (to Guerrero's 19 percent), Mayweather claimed he'd injured his hand in the later rounds.
Losing for the first time in eight years, Guerrero falls to 31-2-1, 18 Kos.
"He did a great job," Guerrero admitted. "But I'm still winning no matter what. He was on his game tonight but everything happens for a reason. I'm gonna keep fighting – when Floyd retires, I'll get that shot again."