By David P. Greisman
Floyd Mayweather will tell you that it was an easy $32 million, at minimum, for his win over Robert Guerrero. The eight-figure payday surpasses what Alex Rodriguez will pull in for an entire season with the New York Yankees. It's an amount that does not include other streams of revenue that could raise his take to an even more obscene extreme.
He will of course go through the usual platitudes about how Guerrero is a good fighter. It will be true, no matter how empty the compliment seems after how easy Mayweather made it look. It was another easy paycheck, not just because he remains a great fighter, nor just because he received nearly a million dollars per minute.
The easy money is made possible by the unpaid moments, by a fighter who will still push himself in the gym after an entire life spent in the sport, after more than 16 years as a pro and after earning enough riches that he could retire comfortably without ever needing to worry about another training camp, another set of fists targeting his face and jarring his internal organs.
But he does not worry in the ring. All of his hard work prepares him. It keeps him sharp, keeps him quick enough to land far more punches than he takes. That helps to preserve his body, which helps him to still be great at 36, which means he can keep that zero at the end of his record, which allows him to see another lengthy series of zeroes at the end of his paycheck.
These are two of the most important things to a man known to utter the maxim that numbers don’t lie: he wants to be undefeated, and he wants to be rich.
Those are the two words that allow for him to have a singular focus.
All of the distraction — the criminal trial and time spent in jail for assaulting an ex-girlfriend who is mother to three of his children, the partying at his home in Las Vegas and in cities around the country, the attention he now gives to the various aspects of his boxing promotions, the personal and professional relationships with his father and uncle — none of that has been able to derail what he does in the ring.
The gym is where he thrives. It is where he returned after two months in jail. It is where he rededicated himself for his first fight since being released, his first bout in almost exactly a year. It is where he recharged himself.
There was no sign that jail or inactivity or age had caught up with him.
He could still land with pinpoint and powerful accuracy, hitting Guerrero with more than 40 percent of his punches, according to CompuBox statistics. A majority of those misses came on jabs. When it came time to land a shot of consequence, he had little trouble doing so. Mayweather was credited with hitting Guerrero with 153 power punches out of 254 thrown, an astounding 60 percent connect rate.
And he can still take away what his opponents do well. Guerrero knew he had no chance of out-boxing someone as smart and as skilled as Mayweather. But he was not able to follow through on the promise of roughing Mayweather up. Guerrero was made less active than he had been in his previous two wins, when he averaged 71 punches thrown per round against Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto. Against Mayweather, Guerrero was limited to 48 shots sent out each round.
Guerrero is a former 126- and 130-pound titleholder who had fought in recent years at 135 and 140 before moving up to 147. But just because he had proven to be good enough at welterweight didn’t mean he’d be great enough to beat Mayweather.
Too often, Guerrero found his head being rocked backward by Mayweather’s lead right hands or counter jabs. Too often, Guerrero could not hit a target that moved so capably and, when standing still, defended so competently. Guerrero landed just 113 punches of 581 thrown — less than 10 per round, less than one landing for every 5 thrown, a 19 percent connect rate. He was just 81 of 290 with power punches — less than 7 landing per round.
Mayweather would hit Guerrero when standing in front of him. He would dodge Guerrero by ducking or moving away from him. And he would disarm Guerrero in close. If Guerrero had hoped to make Mayweather uncomfortable by making the fight physical, then he learned how hopeless that plan would be when he realized how strong Mayweather is in the clinch. Mayweather would hold, and then the referee would break them up.
It was an easy fight to score. All three judges had Mayweather winning nine rounds and Guerrero taking three.
Judges Julie Lederman and Jerry Roth gave Guerrero the first round, while judge Duane Ford gave him the second — closer rounds before Mayweather began to pull away.
All three judges gave Guerrero the seventh round, when Mayweather seemed to spend those three minutes resting, and when Guerrero used that time to smother him with body punching.
And all three judges gave Guerrero the final round — even though Mayweather appeared to land more and better — probably because Mayweather spent much of those three minutes in the boxing version of the prevent defense, moving around the ring.
It was the 44th win for Mayweather against his 43rd opponent. He has signed a deal with Showtime that could have him appear five more times in 30 months before retiring. If he is to fulfill the entirety of that agreement, then there is little reason to believe that Mayweather won’t end 2015 still undefeated at 49-0, and with nine figures’ worth of paychecks earned in the process.
Those numbers are why he continues to work the way he does, even though there are few foes presently fighting at 140 and 147 who could pose a significant challenge to him. He has announced retirements and sabbaticals before and stepped away from the sport. He would hang up his gloves for good if time were finally to catch up to him.
It’s all about the money for a man who made that word his nickname and his credo.
It’s all about the ego for a man who bristles at questions or assertions he finds disrespectful — and pushes himself in the gym in order to withstand any challenge in the ring.
First he will heal a right hand that was left swollen, but reportedly not broken, from this fight.
Soon Mayweather will begin negotiations for his next appearance, potentially a date with Mexican icon Canelo Alvarez on a September Saturday coinciding with Mexican Independence Day weekend, a date that has become an annual tradition for major boxing pay-per-views.
He will go back to the gym, back to the grueling training routines and tough sparring sessions, and back to the hard work that has paid off with so many big wins — and so many huge paydays.
The 10 Count
1. Mayweather-Guerrero had an announced attendance of 15,880 with a live gate of $9,922,350, according to reporters covering the event in Las Vegas.
If that live gate number turns out to be accurate, then the card will have been the 16th-highest-grossing boxing match to take place in Nevada, and Mayweather’s 5th biggest in the state, behind his wins over Oscar De La Hoya (No. 1 in gross sales), Miguel Cotto (No. 9), Shane Mosley (No. 12) and Ricky Hatton (No. 15).
The rest of the top 15 in Nevada is dominated by bouts involving Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao. The lone exception: Joe Calzaghe vs. Bernard Hopkins, ranked No. 11 with a live gate of $11,636,400.
(These stats are according to the Nevada Athletic Commission website.)
2. If you were reading the online news coverage leading up to Mayweather-Guerrero, you couldn’t avoid the trash talking of Robert Guerrero’s father, Ruben, who decided to latch on to us desperate reporters who were all too willing to give him the same kind of publicity we’ve provided for Angel Garcia, and that HBO’s “24/7” shows brought to Roger Mayweather and Floyd Mayweather Sr.
All of this attention only emboldened Ruben, who on Saturday looked once again to be extremely close to getting in a fight with Floyd Sr. — in the ring, during the referee’s final instructions to the boxers.
But one item from news coverage last week somehow didn’t make it into the official press releases or Showtime’s “All Access” documentary: Ruben Guerrero’s rant about the time Floyd Mayweather Jr. served in jail last year for assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
Dom Cosentino of Deadspin noted last week that this portion of Ruben Guerrero’s rant in a pre-fight press conference was absent from the quotes sent out to the media last week. And Brent Brookhouse of the Bad Left Hook and Bloody Elbow websites tweeted that the truly inflammatory lines from Ruben Guerrero didn’t make the latest episode of “All Access.”
As questionable as it is that we gave Ruben Guerrero so much coverage — more than a dozen articles and videos of him (or of people responding to him) on this website alone — it reeks that Guerrero was essentially censored by those who are doing business with Mayweather and have an interest in glossing over direct and extremely unflattering mentions of a negative chapter of Mayweather’s life.
3. If the bulk of former heavyweight titleholder John Ruiz’s career had come during the Internet era, trainer Norman Stone would have been a media darling instead of a foul-tempered distraction.
4. Yes, we would have loved for Abner Mares to have fought Nonito Donaire, were it not for the complete lack of a business relationship between promoters Golden Boy and Top Rank. And yes, we would still love for Mares to be able to face Guillermo Rigondeaux, were it not for the aforementioned issue.
But damn, Mares has still faced some badasses in the past three years: Yonnhy Perez, Vic Darchinyan, Joseph Agbeko (twice), Anselmo Moreno and Daniel Ponce De Leon. (He also had a bout last year against non-badass Eric Morel.)
I’d love to see a bout between Mares and Leo Santa Cruz, with this caveat:
We can’t be sure yet how well Santa Cruz will fare at featherweight, given that the former bantamweight titleholder only moved into the 122-pound division this past Saturday and hasn’t been tested against top-tier opposition there, never mind at 126.
It’s not that Mares is a career featherweight either. He was at bantamweight as recently as December 2011, fought twice last year in the 122-pound division, and just made his debut at 126.
If we can’t get Mares-Santa Cruz just yet, then what about a bout between Mares and fellow featherweight titleholder Evgeny Gradovich?
5. I dislike the idea of coming down too hard on a referee for stopping a fight too early.
I’d much rather the ref err on the side of caution than have his failure leave a boxer in danger of being badly hurt.
I’d much rather the fighter end up with his career altered than have his health compromised — though the former is of little consolation to a fighter who suffers from the setback of defeat.
But Jay Nady’s stoppage of Saturday’s featherweight bout between Abner Mares and Daniel Ponce De Leon came too early.
Though Ponce De Leon had just been knocked down, and though after rising he was getting tagged against the ropes, in no way was he defenseless or not fighting back. The end may have been coming soon, but it didn’t need to come at that moment.
Officiating is a series of split-second calls. There have been far worse mistakes made by referees and judges. That won’t make Ponce De Leon feel any better. He’ll now have to figure out how to get back to another title shot and television slot. This isn’t like baseball or football, where a call can change a game, or even a season, without taking money out of an athlete’s pocket. Nady’s quick hook will cost Ponce De Leon.
6. Few would have complained had Pat Russell felt that Timothy Bradley was out on his feet against Ruslan Provodnikov.
No one would have questioned Joe Cortez had he waved off the fight after Juan Manuel Marquez went down for a third time against Manny Pacquiao.
Kelly Pavlik became middleweight champion because Steve Smoger gave him a chance to recover against Jermain Taylor.
Remember this line from HBO blow-by-blow announcer Jim Lampley during Round 9 of the first fight between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward? “Stop it, Frank! You can stop it any time.”
Frank Cappuccino didn’t stop it. And Gatti came back.
Mares vs. Ponce De Leon wasn’t going to be special. These are just examples of how bouts could have been completely different had the referees ended things early — and they had far more cause than Nady did.
7. Let’s stick with refereeing for a moment and return to last month’s heavyweight fight between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola — and to a key moment in officiating from Jack Reiss.
Stiverne dropped Arreola at the end of the third round, just before the bell rang. A member of Stiverne’s team tossed a stool into the ring and stepped onto the canvas. Reiss, still issuing a count to Arreola, ordered the man out of the ring.
But he didn’t disqualify Stiverne. Instead, Reiss issued a stern warning to Stiverene’s team.
This discretion was the proper way to handle the situation, and it was the difference between enforcing the letter of the law and understanding the spirit of the law. Yes, Stiverne’s team committed an infraction that could have caused the fighter to be disqualified. But it didn’t affect the fight, and it was an act borne more out of negligence or naïveté than it was of intentional interference.
Contrast that with referee Jon Schorle disqualifying Carlos Molina under similar (though not identical) circumstances a year ago in Molina’s fight with James Kirkland.
That was a bad DQ from Schorle. This was a good non-DQ from Reiss.
8. Wladimir Klitschko last lost a fight nine years ago. He’s won 18 bouts in a row and made 14 consecutive defenses of a heavyweight title.
There’s a reason they call ‘em world champions. He remains a star overseas. It’s a shame that the heavyweight scene is so lacking in the United States. More people here are thinking about Mike Tyson’s expected appearance in “The Hangover Part III” than about the latest win by boxing’s dominant big man — a sixth-round stoppage of Francesco Pianeta.
This is understandable.
Klitschko’s money comes from his ability to sell out stadiums and draw significant TV ratings on another continent. He doesn’t need to fight in America or on American television.
Bermane Stiverne has appeared twice on HBO in the past two years. Wladimir Klitschko has been on once, with his fight against David Haye. One cannot criticize the network for not buying his bouts against Jean Marc Mormeck, Mariusz Wach, Francesco Pianeta, and his rematch with Tony Thompson.
Before Klitschko became lineal champion (per the Cyber Boxing Zone website and “The Ring” Magazine), the only non-American lineal heavyweight champion for nearly 50 years was Lennox Lewis.
Lewis’ reigns, from 1998 to 2001 and then from 2001 to 2003, only included two bouts not on American soil. There also were far more heavyweights getting airtime in the States back then.
9. Ricardo Mayorga, quoted from an airport confrontation in Late April with the man he would be facing in his mixed martial arts debut: “Look at me, I’m at 164 pounds. I just need to lose 4 pounds and I’m ready to win.”
Mayorga’s weight last week prior to the fight: 175 pounds.
Mayorga had 22 pounds on his opponent and won by what MMA writers say appeared to be an illegal knee to the spine.
Yeah, sounds like a typical Mayorga fight to me.
10. R.I.P. Jhonny Gonzalez, a correspondent for BoxingScene.com, fatally shot last week while leaving his job at a newspaper in Venezuela.
He was just 33.
“Fighting Words” appears every Monday on BoxingScene.com. David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]