By Joseph Santoliquito
LAS VEGAS, NV (CBS) — A year layoff. A little two-month stay in a county prison. A falling out with a rapper buddy. And apparently an injured, swollen right hand. None of it really mattered. Floyd Mayweather has always been able to blot things out when it’s come to his craft.
In the ring, Mayweather has always been the master of that domain.
A life spent building muscle memory, Mayweather, a virtuoso in sequined yellow trunks with a black stripe down the middle, wasn’t about to be stopped by Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero Saturday night, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Mayweather returned to the ring with a unanimous 12-round decision to somehow retain a WBC welterweight world title he never lost, despite not fighting since May 5, 2012.
The 36-year old Mayweather improved to 43-0 (26 KO). He had been momentarily derailed after serving two months of a three-month sentence in a misdemeanor domestic battery case last year. He had a very public dispute with his pal, 50 Cent, and during the middle of the Guerrero fight, an injured right hand wasn’t enough to stop “Money.”
But the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world did mend his personal differences—also something very public—with his father and erstwhile trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., who was back in his son’s corner for the first time since March 18, 2000, when Mayweather beat Gregorio Vargas.
Mayweather dominated the fight from start to finish. In the first round, Guerrero tried futilely to rough up Mayweather during clinches. Mayweather stood flat-footed in the punching pocket and openly exchanged with Guerrero.
But Mayweather used a simple formula to dismantle the game, but far slower and plodding Guerrero: Use the lead right to the body and head.
It was apparent early that Mayweather, regardless of the layoff, was too fast for the Ghost. Money began banking rounds after his first sluggish early rounds.
A few times, the two fighters exchanged words after a round. It seemed about the only thing in Guerrero’s arsenal that caught Mayweather’s attention. Certainly it wasn’t anything the Ghost was throwing.
Mayweather got stronger as the fight progressed. In the fifth, Guerrero came charging at Mayweather, swinging and missing, connecting with nothing but air, as Money ducked, spun, and made Guerrero look foolish.
In the 11th, Mayweather stood in the center of the ring and choose to slug with Mayweather. He plowed Guerrero with rights from different angles that perplexed Guerrero the whole fight.
In the last round, Mayweather put his pillar defense up, dancing and staying away from the desperate Guerrero. Then Mayweather closed with a few flurries and rode the final seconds with a big right that opened a cut over Guerrero’s left eye.
Judges Duane Ford, Julie Lederman and Jerry Roth all scored the fight the same, 117-111, for Mayweather.
“I thought we were going to go toe-to-toe, he ran like a chicken,” said Ruben Guerrero, Robert’s father and trainer.
“I was looking for the knockout, but I hurt my right hand,” Floyd Mayweather said. “Everyone said my defense wasn’t sharp after I beat [Miguel] Cotto, but Cotto is a Hall of Famer. Midway through the fight, I hurt my right hand. My right hand is swollen. Guerrero was pressing the attack. We don’t know who we’re going to fight next. It was blood, sweat and tears tonight. What else can I say?”
Mayweather landed 195 of 476 punches, for 41-percent. What leaps out is Mayweather connected on 153 of 254 power punches (and 42 of 222 jabs). Guerrero landed a total of 113 punches of 581 thrown (32 of 291 jabs; 81 of 290 power shots).
“I came out to do what I came to do,” Guerrero said. “He was barely slipping by the punches. Floyd is a great fighter. He’s slick and quick. He’s better than I thought. I’m going to keep fighting and hopefully before Floyd retires I’ll get that shot again.”