A day later it’s come as no surprise to anyone that Floyd Mayweather is still undefeated after a superb strategical performance against a clearly overmatched Robert Guerrero. The result was a wake-up call of sorts on a few fronts. For one, the fight is proof that rumblings of Mayweather’s physical decline were grossly premature. And secondly, the hope that welterweight out there can give Mayweather a legit, tough challenge before he closes his career is a longshot at best. Nonetheless, there was a little intrigue in and out of the ring this weekend. Let’s get right to it.
GABRIEL ROSADO ROBBED BLIND: There is no other way to state this. J’Leon Love and Gabriel Rosado opened the pay-per-view with a hard-fought battle that saw Love open up an early lead with good counter-punching off the backfoot. The fight would change in the sixth when Rosado scored a heavy knockown off a counter right, and the contender from Philly would land the more telling blows over the final four rounds.
Two of the veteran judges, Dave Moretti and Glenn Trowbridge, were split in giving Love and Rosado respective one-point victories (95-94). An argument could be made for both, but it’s harder to argue the 95-94 score that Moretti gave Love, as he had the Mayweather Promotions fighter taking round nine (most ringside writers, including myself, had Rosado taking the last two rounds as he rocked Love in exchanges and forced him to hold multiple times). But the 97-92 card from Herb Santos? Keep in mind that’s with Rosado scoring a knockdown in the sixth, meaning that Santos only gave Rosado two rounds (the sixth and tenth).
Santos delivered a gift-wrapped present to Love and the fans knew it immediately, showering him with boos so loud we could barely hear his post-fight interview. Rosado showed a lot of balls taking a fight like this so soon after the beating he took from Gennady Golovkin, and it’s unfortunate that his efforts were not rewarded. He really shouldn’t even be fighting at middleweight. Hopefully this showing earns him another high-profile title shot, preferably at 154 against the winner of Ishe Smith vs. Carlos Molina
In regards to Santos, Rosado was of the opinion he should be fired for that score. Surprisingly, there was no real bitterness in him when he attended the post-fight press conference, and he appeared content in knowing who the true victor was.
I felt like I won the fight. I had a 10-8 round. We both fought with heavy hearts. There are no hard feelings. I fought my heart out. Everyone knows what happened. I don’t have anything to prove. I feel I deserve a shot at a world title. I came back from a tough loss, and felt I won tonight.
To his credit, J’Leon Love said he’s open to a rematch.
SANTA CRUZ HANDLES MUNOZ: Last night was my first opportunity to see Golden Boy’s undefeated super bantamweight Leo Santa Cruz, and he sure didn’t disappoint in brutalizing veteran Alexander Munoz over five one-sided rounds. Santa Cruz had a distinct size and power advantage that he used accordingly to break down his opponent with vicious left hooks to the body and counter rights upstairs. Munoz was game, but his attempts to exchange with Santa Cruz to earn respect got him buckled legs and scrambled senses.
Santa Cruz’s seek and destory style and tall frame have drawn comparisons to Antonio Margarito, but where Santa Cruz differs from the Tijuana Tornado is in his accuracy. He connected on 52% of his total punches (219 of 424), and a staggering 57% of his power shots (183 of 323). The last three rounds were especially brutal in Santa Cruz holding a 135-26 edge in connects, culminating with Munoz being sent crashing into the bottom rope for the stoppage.
This was the 34-year old Munoz’s first major fight at super bantamweight and Santa Cruz’s beating was enough to convince him to hightail back to 118 pounds.
“The inactivity hurt me,” said Munoz, who’s only fought four times over the last three years. “I have to go down in weight; this weight was too much for me. Santa Cruz is very good but he hasn’t improved. I landed a lot of punches.”
As for what’s next for Santa Cruz, there is talk among fans of what would be an explosive battle against the fighter below who also shined on the card.
MARES KOs PONCE DE LEON: Abner Mares notched another career-highlight in disposing of his good friend and power-puncher Daniel Ponce de Leon. The intrigue with this fight was if Mares, making his debut at a third weight class in featherweight, could handle the brutish strength of Ponce de Leon. What we should have been asking was if Ponce could handle Mares’s power, as he scored to big knockdown to force a ninth round stoppage.
What’s always impressed me about Mares is how he modifies his gameplan for each fight. With Anselmo Moreno, he applied constant pressure. With Ponce, he was mostly patient and jarring Ponce with flush counter shots before unleashing flurries of power shots when Ponce was trapped on the ropes. Ponce got dropped by a left hook in the second, but never quit and succeeded in stunning Mares a few times with his dangerous southpaw left.
In the end, Ponce’s recklessness would be his undoing. Mares drilled him with a right hook for the second knockdown, and forced the stoppage when Ponce got trapped on the ropes eating more flush shots. There were some complaints among the press (and definitely Ponce himself), since he was throwing back at the time ref Jay Nady stepped in, but the writing was on the wall and Nady saved Ponce some brain cells.
Although Leo Santa Cruz mentioned Jonathan Romero as a potential opponent, he acknowledged a Mares fight would be action-packed and a opportunity he wouldn’t turn down. If I were Golden Boy, I’d leave this two apart for now. For one, Mares has just picked up the WBC title at featherweight while Santa Cruz is trying to build his name further at super bantamweight. Santa Cruz just got to a new weight class so it makes no sense to move him up so quickly, and Mares definitely shouldn’t move back down. In addition, Mares has a huge experience edge in having fought the best fighters in his weight classes the last few years. Santa Cruz needs a lot more seasoning, and the Romero would be a good test.
I’m normally not a big advocate of the Bob Arum school of letting potential in-house action fights marinate forever (remember what happened with Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa), but I’d like to see Mares-Santa Cruz revisited sometime in 2014.[youtube http://youtu.be/kC2bDddkfO8]
ROBERT GUERRERO PROVES TO BE EAAAASY WORK: My prediction going into this fight was that Mayweather would stop Guerrero in the 10th round with the “competitive” portion of the fight ending around the fourth. An injury to Mayweather’s right hand prevented a potential stoppage, but the writing sure was on the wall regarding the outcome of this one as early as the third round.
Mayweather had got in a few clipping lead right hands in the first two rounds, but the third is when Floyd started to really snap Guerrero’s head back with the punch. From then on Mayweather couldn’t miss and made The Ghost look like a fool. He mixed it up by alternating between stabbing straight rights to the body, crosses down the middle, and whipping hooks around the guard. The fustration was clear on Guerrero’s face as the round’s and punishment built up. And when Guerrero became fixated on avoiding the right, Mayweather, as his father had guaranteed beforehand, started to smash Guerrero with left hooks.
Guerrero got hurt bad by a right hook late in the eighth that had him backpedaling over the last 20 seconds. At that point, it looked like this fight would go no more than two more rounds. Unfortunately, Mayweather hurt his hand somewhere around the 10th and per his defense-first mentality, Floyd took his foot off the gas and played it safe. The scores of 117-111 across the board reflected the dominance.
The main reason I picked a Mayweather KO was Floyd’s track record of being more aggressive in walking down southpaws behind a high guard, as seen in his wins over Zab Judah, Sharmba Mitchell and DeMarcus Corley. Where my analysis was flawed is those fighters had faster hands than Guerrero and could take advantage of Mayweather’s shoulder roll defense. Guerrero was too slow to do any such thing — once Mayweather used his own speed to take away Guerrero’s lead hand with his own counter left jab, The Ghost was done for.
Guerrero dared not throw a lead left with the deadly right hands coming back his away. That second guessing allowed Mayweather to get off first with his impressive array of right hand leads. To put in perspective how badly Guerrero was shut down, the Ghost’s welterweight punch output per round was at 48 last night, down from his usual 78 punches per round. Guerrero’s jab was confined to 11% accuracy (32 of 291), 28% in power shots (81 of 290) and 19% in overall punches connected (113 to 581).
Mayweather’s footwork was excellent in keeping off the ropes and forcing Guerrero to constantly have to reset his offense. And the few times Guerrero tried to maul inside, Mayweather proved to be strong enough to hold his own and made sure to land short but stinging counters out of clinches.
You couldn’t ask for a better performane from a figher that’s 36 years old and competing in his 17 year of professional boxing.
MAYWEATHER VS. CANELO? NOT SO FAST: Of course, the main question most of us have is what’s next for Mayweather. The obvious name is Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who did much to raise his profile in unifying the WBA and WBC light middleweight titles by defeating Austin Trout two weeks ago in front of 40,000 fans in San Antonio, Texas.
Although Mayweather and Canelo both said they plan to fight next on September 14, I’m more inclinded to believe Canelo gets the date himself and Mayweather takes another year off. A Mayweather-Canelo fight needs time for that pay-pre-view build in addition to the training, and Floyd can’t jump back into another camp until his hand heals. If the fight truly was a go for September, you can bet there would have been some inkling of it from Golden Boy or Mayweather last night. Instead, Floyd fell back on the old “I’ll have to discuss it with Al Haymon and Leonard Ellerbe.” The only thing confirmed was Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer stating Canelo for sure would be fighting on a September 14 pay-per-view. And I caught Schaefer mentioning Cotto as a potential opponent for that date.
Maybe Floyd fights someone else in September? I highly doubt it. To fight o Mexican Independence Day weekend, Floyd needs a marketable Mexican. Before, he had Juan Manuel Marquez and Victor Ortiz. There’s no one on Golden Boy’s roster that fits that bill these days except Canelo. Fights with Amir Khan or Devon Alexander on that date make zero sense.
Floyd as all about business first, so what’s makes better fiscal sense over sitting out in September to heal that right hand, letting Canelo increase his rep even further by knocking out Cotto, and then facing him in a huge 2014 pay-per-view during Cinco de Mayo weekend.
Let’s hear your thoughts. Did you enjoy the Mayweather-Guerrero card? Is the time right for Mayweather-Canelo?