Floyd Mayweather is, and always has been, a magnificently gifted fighter, but what we saw tonight with him shutting out Juan Manuel Marquez was akin to a prime Shaq visiting his local high school and scoring 100 points. HBO’s announcing team gave him about the best blow job he’s ever received for “accomplishing” something so insignificant. So much larger than Marquez was Mayweather that what few punches Marquez landed had no impact. The best thing anybody on HBO said all night was when Manny Steward uttered, “This is why we have weight classes.”
See, Mayweather defeating a smaller opponent is just giving him more advantages than he needs. What if he had a fair fight with most anybody in the world? He’d win it. But he can’t bring himself to take risks, either in his choice of opponent or inside the ring. HBO’s team indicated that Mayweather would “improve his negotiating position” with Manny Pacquiao by beating Marquez easier than Pacquiao did, but that was a fair fight between men of similar sizes who were proven at junior lightweight and featherweight. This was a 144-pound fight where Mayweather weighed 146 pounds Friday because he wanted yet more advantage over Marquez even if it hurt his pocketbook. Because he refused to allow HBO to weigh him before the fight, surely he outweighed Marquez by a signficant amount more than we know; Marquez looked like a dwarf in there. No, really, it was damning that Mayweather couldn’t bother taking a risk to try for the knockout, so conservative is he that when he SEEMS like he’s going for the knockout, he still isn’t really taking a single chance. And what really will matter, vis-a-vis Mayweather-Pacquiao, is how Pacquiao’s pay-per-view numbers in November against Miguel Cotto stack up against the final numbers for Mayweather-Marquez.
The fight itself was a disappointment nearly from moment one. It was so incredibly evident that Marquez was too small to hurt Mayweather that the conclusion was foretold within seconds. Mayweather landed left hooks, straight rights and jabs with impunity, which I’d give him credit for if, again, they were similarly-sized men. In context, it may or may not mean anything. We knew Mayweather was faster and bigger. If Marquez was bigger, maybe it still would have gone the same way. But that factor more than any — Marquez’ complete inability to dent Mayweather — made the outcome certain. I predicted a Mayweather KO in eight, but that Marquez lasted longer than that, to the final bell, despite a 2nd round knockdown, speaks either to Mayweather’s relative lack of power, or Marquez’ incredible heart, or both. This wasn’t Mayweather’s “best performance,” as the HBO team said. That was against Diego Corrales, a legitimately dangerous opponent. In the void, a shutout means nothing.
I hate to keep using the word “damning,” but it is, actually, seriously damning that the post-fight interview with Mayweather in the ring was more interesting than the fight itself. Shane Mosley, who wants to fight Mayweather, basically hijacked the interview, demanding a fight with Mayweather and ticking Mayweather off, prompting some three-way trash-talking. HBO’s Max Kellerman couldn’t keep control of the interview, and when Mayweather told Kellerman, “You’ve talked enough” and tried to take the microphone from him, Kellerman threw it to HBO’s Jim Lampley at ringside. Is anyone surprised that Mayweather proved more fascinating as a talker than a fighter? (If only in part for the galling stupidity he puts on display; “I’m not here to talk about money,” he said, as if he ever talks about anything else.) Mayweather is basically a carnival barker who keeps luring the public into thinking they have a chance of enjoying one of his bouts. If you enjoyed this bout, you are a sadist. The only drama was in whether Mayweather would score the knockout and make the fight go from sad to sadder.
You’ll find no greater defenders of the sport of boxing than I am, but the truth is the truth — the sport didn’t cover itself in glory tonight, as a bigger man beat up a smaller man in a fight that was completely devoid of excitement and sold to us dishonestly either by Mayweather, Golden Boy Promotions, HBO or all of the above. Ever the optimist, I’d remind anyone who was as turned off by this sorry display as I was that on Nov. 14, Pacquiao-Cotto is very likely to show the highs of the sport.
I’ll have more to say on this tomorrow, including some thoughts on an undercard that didn’t quite live up to my expectations but still was better on paper than any I’d seen for a long time, plus whatever things I think when I wake up in the morning.