At some point in round two at the MGM in Las Vegas on Saturday night Floyd Mayweather took control of his 44th fight and turned it into one of the easiest nights that he has had in the ring.
In the second round, as close to 16,000 people started to shuffle in anticipation of a hard fight, Mayweather set a simple trap and started to catch Robert Guerrero repeatedly with an undetectable right cross. Guerrero, a world champion at four weights, was reduced to being a moving punchbag from that moment and, what is even more disturbing, he understood his role as battered dance partner in Mayweather's latest brutal waltz.
It was the first of six planned fights during the next 30 months in an extraordinary deal that Mayweather recently signed with ShowTime. It is a deal that guarantees him $200m but is likely, should it be completed, to make him $500m. The sell-out on Saturday will generate just over $15m and Mayweather, as promoter and star, is in charge of every cash pot that comes in.
In the post-fight glow it was inevitable that they would praise each other in what has become a meaningless trade of respect, especially in big fights where one boxer has miserably failed to perform. There had been a simmering lack of respect in the weeks and days before the fight and Guerrero's father had been particularly unpleasant. However, Guerrero did admit that Mayweather was much better than he expected, which was honest, and it was also painfully obvious to anybody watching the calculated beating.
"He was just missing my punches," mused a bruised and broken Guerrero, who will end up with a career-high purse of over $6m when the pay-per-view figures are added to his $3m guarantee. "He was just moving, just getting out of the way."
Mayweather, now 36, has made a career of just getting out of the way in fights against top boxers that have become events in America.
"I wanted the knockout but I hurt my right hand in the second part of the fight," said Mayweather. He settled for a wide points wins and there were fans inside the Grand Garden who booed. Tests this week will confirm the damage to the hand and could lead to him changing his plan to fight again on 14 September back at the MGM.
It was only when Mayweather took obvious breathers in a few of the rounds that Guerrero had success, but even then, as he chopped away at a ducking Mayweather, his punches lacked venom. Guerrero looked broken and disturbingly compliant most of the time; he knew that his aggression would lead to more suffering and he stood off far too much. Thankfully, Mayweather is not a spiteful or nasty fighter and he was content, as he has been in other fights, to do enough to win but not enough to get Guerrrero out of the ring early. There had been bold talk and predictions by Guerrero of relentless brutality but he was tamed by the unseen right, humbled by his lack of success and reduced to shadow-boxing for his pay.
Guerrero ended the fight bruised all over his face but, having made his way to the changing room, he would have looked in the mirror, ignored the superficial damage, and suffered the painful realisation that he came up way short. It will hurt far more than the lumps left behind by Mayweather's calculating fists. However, he will be in good company, as the list of terrific fighters reduced to bloodied and average brawlers in mismatches with Mayweather is growing.
A list of opponents for the planned September fight will be drafted and presented to Mayweather once the pay-per-view figures are in. If they are disappointing numbers then a big name is likely; if they are healthy then a lesser name will get invited to the most lucrative waltz in the game. Fighters know that there are only five dances left.
It is clear that Amir Khan, providing he wins his next fight, is at the top of the list for May next year. He was one of many potential fighters at ringside on Saturday trying to catch the eye of Mayweather for a portion of his large money pie. The only man missing from the melee of available bruisers was unbeaten baby-faced Saul Alvarez but the presence of Miguel Cotto, Danny Garcia, Zab Judah, Austin Trout, Andre Berto, Carlos Ortiz and Khan only reinforces Mayweather's dominant position as sport's biggest earner. He is the only modern boxer to have a chorus of approval at each of his fights, all sitting, smiling and hoping for a call.
In Mannheim a few hours before Mayweather retained his WBC welterweight title, Wladimir Klitschko had more problems putting his four heavyweight belts across his shoulders than he had in beating Italy's Francesco Pianeta. The massacre ended in the sixth after Pianeta was dropped in rounds four, five and six. It means that Klitschko can now make $17.5m for fighting Russia's Alexander Povetkin in August. It's good money, but in boxing Mayweather makes heavyweight money and he left the Vegas ring with a guarantee of $32m and not a bruise in sight.Reuse content