Danny Garcia's mouthpiece ejecting from his face and skating across the top ring rope was one of the best blends of violence and grace from this past weekend, the absolute best being everything Floyd Mayweather did to Canelo Alvarez. The camera zooms in on the mouthpiece and follows it so lovingly, too. Whether you loved "The One" overall boils down to individual tastes. If it had gone differently, that, too, would have been worth the money — a Canelo win would've set the sports world ablaze, and a prototypically destructive Lucas Matthysse knockout of Garcia would've satisfied boxing fans' desire for the primal. For my part, I appreciated Garcia using his brains to upset the natural order, and Mayweather's performance was a masterpiece that rendered the bout devoid of drama but was stunning to witness all the same.
Our prior weekend coverage was here, here, here and here, and Queensberry Rules Radio will revisit the weekend later on Tuesday, too. In this edition of Weekend Afterthoughts, we'll more deeply examine than we did before the subjects in the headline; what's next for Mayweather, Canelo and Garcia; and more.
- Mayweather's historical standing. Talking about this risks the rage of Mayweather's devoted fans, but we're going to do it anyway. Back in 2009, I interviewed a few boxing historians about where Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fell all-time. Pacquiao got as high as the 20s, Mayweather as high as the 30s, with most putting him at closer to 50-70. Since 2010, Mayweather has done some excellent work. Saturday against Canelo, he delivered one of his best-ever performances against one of his most threatening-ever opponents. With the win he became junior middleweight champion, his fourth lineal championship in his fourth divisions, equaling a feat that only Pacquiao had accomplished in boxing history. That said, Pacquiao did it first and better, since the four championships spanned a greater number of divisions and for the most part came against better opposition. He also has beaten the better overall opposition; if you put his 10 best wins up against Mayweather's 10 best wins, Pacquiao comes out ahead for me. The gap is closing, as Mayweather's competition has improved after a long stretch of good-not-great wins and as Pacquiao's has dropped off some, not to mention that big knockout loss in Pacquiao's last fight. The biggest reason I still wouldn't have Mayweather in my top 20 is because his resume doesn't include a lot of names from a pretty prime era of welterweights and junior welterweights — it doesn't matter why, or whether you think it wasn't his fault, because not having the names hurts his resume no matter what's to blame. And while Mayweather forecasts right now as a fighter who could stick around for a couple more years at this elite level, something harder to say about Pacquiao, the gap could be harder to close because there's nobody yet on the immediate horizon who offers the kind of challenges that Mayweather might've taken and overcome during that period where he's missing names. If you believe Mayweather belongs in the top 20, and he's not there for me yet, look over these two sample lists and specify who you'd bump down to make room for him.
- Next for Mayweather. A lot can happen before May, when Mayweather plans to fight next, but at this moment there's a paucity of especially marketable and make-able bouts. There's Garcia, which we'll get to later. There has also been talk of Mayweather vs. the winner of Amir Khan and Devon Alexander. Khan's length and quickness once figured to give Mayweather some stress on paper, in theory, but since then he's lost a couple, gotten wobbled a bunch and stopped once, so wad up that piece of paper and throw it out the window. Alexander relies on a similar set of assets as Mayweather, all of them lesser than Mayweather's. Should Pacquiao beat Brandon Rios, flagging interest in Pacquiao-Mayweather might rally, although some of the sizzle is permanently lost and the same hurdles that prevented it the first time around — money and Mayweather's animosity with Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum — remain. The winner of Juan Manuel Marquez-Timothy Bradley might make some sense; Marquez has adapted to welterweight better since the first meeting with Mayweather, and he's popular enough to sell well, but neither man has said he's interested in a rematch, while Bradley if he wins could call out Mayweather or Pacquiao but would be more likely to meet the Pac-Man because Bradley is with Arum's Top Rank. Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez could maybe go down to 154, although his aging, injury-riddled body makes the fight less appealing than before, and Mayweather might be reluctant to fight the 160-pound champ given that he made Canelo come down to 152. From there, the options only get more implausible. Adrien Broner? He and Mayweather are pals, at least for the time being. Keith Thurman? He hits hard but he's too green. Gennady Golovkin? He'd come down to 154 for the honor, but he hits too hard for too small a payday for Mayweather to risk, and Golovkin's with HBO anyway. Light heavyweight Bernard Hopkins? He said he'd go down to 160, but even if he could, Mayweather tops out at 154 at the absolute highest. There are two more years in Mayweather's Showtime deal, and that's a long time for viable opponents to materialize; two years ago, who thought Canelo would be the best option for Mayweather? At this moment, though, Mayweather's next fight figures to be a much weaker one in every way than the one he just finished.
- Next for Canelo. Canelo is now caught in a few crossfires so far as his esteem goes. Some thought he was all hype beforehand, and are only more convinced of it after this weekend. Some feel lied to that this would be a competitive fight, and now wonder whether he always sucked. Those are the usual crossfires a fighter of any elevated profile will encounter after a loss, because there's always a contingent that watches a fighter lose and believes he was no good, whether they thought it before or not. Against Mayweather, you're 99 percent likely to be downgraded further as ordinary-to-terrible, because that's what fighting him will do to you. You will suffer badly by comparison. I'd still pick Canelo to beat any junior middleweight today, although some would give him more trouble than others, like Carlos Molina. Because, well, Molina gives everyone trouble. Ishe Smith is a pretty good prizefighter and I thought Molina beat him soundly Saturday on the undercard, regardless of what one judge perceived. (Molina didn't hold as much as usual, his sin with many fans, instead trading the clinches in for too many head butts.) Anyway, I'm not and never have been convinced that Canelo is or will be a truly elite prizefighter, but then, I never gave him much of a chance against Mayweather beyond being bigger physically. Is he the best 154-pounder not named Mayweather, when Mayweather is around at 154? Yes, and while the division isn't loaded, that's good enough for me to think he's pretty good overall.
- Judge C.J. Ross' scorecard. Oh, it was a bad, bad card all right. The fight wasn't a draw, period. Eighty six media members scored it for Mayweather, most by a lot, with the closest being 116-113. It's one of the worst big fight scorecards since… well, since Ross helped score a Bradley win over Pacquiao. Combined, those are the worst two scorecards by a judge involved in big fights since I began following the sport religiously. In the immediate aftermath, Ross defended her scorecard — what was she going to do, go "I blew it!" the next day? It would've been better if she had, of course. Also unsurprising is that the Nevada State Athletic Commission's executive director, Keith Kizer, defended the scorecard. Kizer has a tendency to stick up for bad scorecards rather than questioning or challenging them, which maybe comes from a misplaced sense of loyalty or else he really does believe the bad scorecards are defensible, with that second option being most worrisome. His explanation of how the bad scorecard happened — hey, it's round-by-round, not he whole fight — is off, too, as if all the fans and writers who scored the fight didn't know that's how a fight is scored. At least the chairman of the NSAC didn't defend the card initially, and suggested some change might be on the way. He said he could've and perhaps should've blocked Ross' appointment, but then, there's no evidence anyone else objected beforehand either based on Ross' Bradley-Pacquiao scorecard. His remarks indicated that Ross' standing had suffered within the commission, at least until he later softened his comments. Mayweather himself offered a strange quote that some took as him criticizing Ross' judging ability because she was an older woman, but it might have been a kind of verbal acrobatics instead, with him starting to refer to Ross as "it" because he wasn't sure if Ross was a woman or man, thus "I believe it's a woman." Is there a better answer than what we got from Kizer about how this could've been scored a draw? By one poll, fans and writers scored a whole bevvy of different rounds for Canelo. (I gave him the 2nd and the 8th, but upon rewatching, I felt less solid about the 8th and wondered if I should've instead given Canelo the 12th.) There were some close rounds in the fight I didn't score for Mayweather. The issue, though, is that in order to arrive at a draw, you have to give Canelo every benefit of the doubt in those close rounds when on the whole, nobody else did.
- Danny Garcia's big win. In the afterglow of Garcia beating Matthysse to become junior welterweight champion, some griped that Garcia held too much and threw too many low blows. They're valid gripes. All the holding stifled some of Matthysse's assault, and the low blows could've had an impact on Matthysse's fearsome punching power. I'm not saying it was sportsmanlike or praise-worthy, but it played a role in Garcia's win and therefore served as intelligent tactics. I'm more of the mind that what made the bigger difference was Garcia's footwork, his defense, his counterpunching and his chin. The fight really turned in the 7th when Matthysse's right eye closed, but let's not pretend a signature Garcia left hook wasn't responsible for that. Garcia was simply able to smother Matthysse's power with his cleverness and his chin held up to whatever Matthysse hit it with, even when Matthysse — who boxed too much early for my tastes — finally started really connecting in the final couple rounds. I think we have to consider Garcia one of the 10 best boxers in the world right now after this, no matter how OK to above average his individual parts are, because the totality adds up to a damn good fighter. As for a Mayweather showdown, he probably figures as a more dangerous opponent than anybody else at welterweight, not that he'd stand a much better chance than Canelo. And his batshit father/trainer would probably do his part in saying totally insane things that make headlines and draw the mainstream further into the fight. It wouldn't come close to Canelo-Mayweather commercially, though, because of the competitiveness element and because Garcia's love from Philly and the Puerto Rican fans doesn't equal what Alvarez brought from Mexico. He's merely among the best of some flawed options.
- Pablo Cesar Cano-Ashley Theophane, revisited. In the original write-up, Cano-Theophane wasn't given its proper due for the action it provided, much as the last two rounds of Garcia-Matthysse weren't. For putting it all on the line, Theophane and Cano are welcome back on my TV — ESPN2, Fox Sports 1 or Shobox for Theophane, Cano on a Showtime undercard. It's true that Cano has yet to beat a true contender, but he deserves another chance because he offers them difficult and exciting fights. I have my doubts about whether he can make junior welterweight, as he aspires to, as he once missed the 147-pound limit for his Paulie Malignaggi bout.