Floyd Mayweather vs Andre Berto was every bit of the 18-1 mismatch Vegas bookies predicted. The future hall of famer out-boxed, out-smarted and out-everythinged his opponent for 12 rounds on Showtime Pay-Per-View en route to a unanimous decision to improve to 49-0, 26 KO, matching Rocky Marciano’s hallowed record.
Mayweather dictated the fight with stiff jabs and lead left hooks from the opening bell. Berto (30-4, 23 KO) landed virtually nothing of substance in the first five rounds, ineptly following his adversary around the ring and lunging at him from corner to corner instead. Sometimes Berto would eat a jab or be strafed with body shots for his efforts. Other times, he’d work his way inside simply to watch Floyd slip his punches and indifferently dance away.
Berto landed his cleanest power shots in the 6th and 7th rounds, but Mayweather answered with flurries of his own. As quickly as the flashes of competitiveness appeared, they were snuffed out. Berto’s attack was just too orthodox, Mayweather’s defense too elusive.
What the fight lacked in offense, it made up for with trash talk. Mayweather shimmied between rounds, postured between slips and counters, and peppered Berto with constant smack talk. In the 10th round, referee Kenny Bayless went as far as to stop the fight briefly to warn both fighters to quit jawing at each other.
The 12th round opened with some of the best exchanges of the night, albeit of the same, one-sided variety. With less than a minute left in the bout, the pound-for-pound king turned his counterpunches into an offensive outburst. For a moment, it appeared that the 19-year veteran would end his career by delivering a knockout — or at least finish up swinging in a valiant, crowd-pleasing bid.
That crescendo, too, was short lived. After wobbling Berto with uppercuts, short rights and hooks on the inside, Mayweather ultimately ended the fight — and his career, supposedly — dancing around the outside of the ring.
The judges’ scores read 117-111, 118-110, 120-108 for Mayweather. TQBR scored the fight as a 120-108 shutout in favor of Mayweather.
When a legend retires, you want to be able to say something spectacular. There’s something reverent and satisfying about giving a warrior a proper farewell as he rides off in the sunset.
Tonight’s main event didn’t fit that bill. Sure, we saw Mayweather’s slippery defense and tremendous fundamentals on full display. He’s a master of his craft. But he also seemed disinterested — and perhaps rightfully so; Berto was never a threat.
It was a boring, maddening fight that always deflated whenever it began to get interesting. It was exactly what we’ve come to expect during the reign of Floyd Mayweather.
FROM THE UNDERCARD
The Mayweather/Berto undercard was the exact opposite of the main event. All three bouts not only promised fistic fireworks on paper, but delivered.
Jonathan Oquendo Scores Mild Upset Over Jhonny Gonzalez In Entertaining Opener
The PPV opened with a 130-pound bout between Jhonny Gonzalez (58-10, 49 KO) and Jonathan Oquendo (26-4, 16 KO) that was you’d expect from a Mexican and a Puerto Rican. It was close, scrappy and bloody.
After a brief feeling-out period in the opening round, Gonzalez began stringing together punches and floored Oquendo with a left uppercut. Oquendo responded in the 2nd, hammering Gonzalez with a straight right and knocking him to the canvas. The Puerto Rican pounced on his dazed opponent, but the war-tested Gonzalez flurried back and survived the round.
The pace normalized in the middle rounds. Oquendo worked behind his jab, moving Gonzalez backwards for extended periods. Meanwhile, Gonzalez preferred to work on the inside, landing the harder shots, dirtying up the fight and making many rounds impossibly difficult to score. Both boxers also suffered cuts from accidental headbutts, although neither’s vision or performance was hampered.
Ultimately, the judges rewarded Oquendo for his aggression and rendered a close majority decision in his favor. Official scores read 94-94, 95-93, 98-90. I scored the fight 95-93 for Gonzalez. I can certainly see how two judges gave Oquendo the nod given how many close rounds there were, but Robert Hoyle’s 98-90 card was pretty bizarre.
Badou Jack Shows Progress, Wins Split Decision Over George Groves
Badou Jack (20-1-1, 12 KO) used effective counter-punching and body shots to wear down George Groves (21-3, 16 KO) in a 12-round super middleweight fight.
Jack started quickly, scoring a 1st round knockdown on Groves with a smashing right hand. Groves would recover and work behind his jab, establishing a good range and rhythm for long stretches. Meanwhile, Jack continued to land strong counter right hands and focused his offensive efforts on tenderizing Groves with body shots.
Jack’s dedication to the body attack paid off. Groves visibly slowed and the former Gambian Olympian was able to take control. Many rounds were extremely even, but Groves couldn’t keep pace with Jack’s power and efficiency.
The split decision came on scores of 113-114, 115-112 and 116-111. TQBR scored the fight 114-113 in favor of Groves, giving him the nod in a few of the closer rounds due to the volume of his jabs and corresponding ring control. Having said that, I have no problem with the official outcome here.
Of all of the undercard fights on tonight’s PPV, this might have the most career-shaping ramifications. Jack, who suffered a stunning knockout loss to Derek Edwards on a February 2014 ShoBox card, has shown improvements in each of his past four fights, especially his most recent bout against Anthony Dirrell.
Jack has stated that he has been having trouble making the super middleweight limit of 168 pounds and is planning a jump in weight to the light heavyweight. He certainly has flashed the boxing skills necessary to hang with Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson, the top dogs at the next weight up, but how will his strength and chin hold up? It should be fun finding out.
Roman Martinez Escapes With Split Draw Against Orlando Salido
Barely five months removed from their first throwdown, Roman Martinez (29-2-3, 17 KO) and Orlando Salido (42-13-3, 29 KO) waged another war, this time resulting in a controversial split draw.
Salido, the consummate pressure fighter, stalked Martinez from the get-go. In the 3rd round, Salido scored a flash knockdown but Martinez argued he had stepped on his foot and it should have been ruled a slip. Martinez lost his appeal to referee Vic Drakulich, but had a measure of revenge, scoring a legitimate knockdown on Salido before the round’s end.
Martinez again stunned Salido in the 4th, but couldn’t capitalize and put him away. Salido began getting the better of the exchanges in the 5th and 6th, settling into a relentless, double-fisted body assault that lasted the remainder of the fight.
The pace slowed and both fighters began showing signs of fatigue in the 9th and 10th, but the blistering pace resumed in the final two rounds. Salido and Martinez went toe-to-toe, throwing punches in bunches — sometimes wildly — at all angles.
While Martinez remained game, Salido appeared to be both outworking and out-landing the champ as they traded through the final bell.
The official scorecards read 114-114, 115-113 for Martinez and 115-113 for Salido. TQBR had the fight scored 116-112 in favor of Salido. Unlike the first two undercard bouts, there didn’t seem to be a lot of room for creative interpretation round-to-round. Most rounds were decisive one way or the other — usually in Salido’s favor.
According to Compubox, Salido threw more (1037-691), landed more (285-189) and had an edge in power shots (249-169). While these differences are astounding, Salido’s output alone is impressive in itself. Hopefully this means he has enough left in his tank to give fans a rubber match.
(Image: Mayweather, left, throws a right at Andre Berto. Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)