Floyd Mayweather comfortably beats Robert Guerrero to make record 44-0
Floyd Mayweather Jr maintains perfect record with unanimous 117-111 points decision over Robert Guerrero
Kevin Mitchell in Las Vegas
Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, throws a left jab at Robert Guerrero in the eighth round during their WBC welterweight title fight, Saturday, May 4, 2013, in Las Vegas. Photograph: Isaac Brekken/AP
Any fears that Floyd Mayweather was going to let time dull his genius evaporated during another boxing master-class as he toyed with Robert Guerrero for 12 rounds to keep his WBC welterweight title safe and his precious "0" intact in his 44th fight.
Whatever some unappreciative punters thought as, unbelievably, they left early, Mayweather showed why there is nobody to touch him in his division – and the prospect of Amir Khan, who was at ringside, moving up to challenge him chills the blood.
"I take my hat off to him," Mayweather said of Guerrero, after the three judges all returned cards of 117-111. "My defence won it. I was looking for the knockout, but I hurt my right hand."
That's understandable. Mayweather landed so many rights on Guerrero's static, befuddled head, it is a wonder he could get his glove off at the end of it.
"He did a great job," Guerrero conceded, "very slick, very quick," before thanking Jesus Christ for what was a disappointing challenge. "He hit me with some great body shots. That's why he's undefeated. He's better than I thought and was definitely on his game tonight."
Guerrero came to the ring wearing a "God Is Great" tee-shirt. Was he contemplating a miracle, boxing's answer to walking on water? Theologically, "The Ghost" was on solid ground; fistically, agnostics were in the majority. The reception for Guerrero was muted – then turned to thunder for the arrival of the champion, glittering in gold and green ("Money's" favourite colour, of course).
Mayweather, out for a year, looked for early rhythm with body shots, long rights to the southpaw's belly, and the challenger replied with some rough work in close. He had fleeting success, and ducked under Mayweather's slightly anxious hooks adroitly, to share the points.
The Californian Mexican threaded a decent left cross through the best defence in boxing and Mayweather held. His counters troubled his ring-rusty opponent and even the ropes, Mayweather's preferred port of refuge, did not help him much, as the rank outsider pinched his only round – from this vantage point, at least.
Superbly conditioned after one of his longest training camps, the 36-year-old champion back-pedalled out of trouble and kept the younger man – by six years - honest with a few stiff clips from range and one belting right to the temple to shade the session.
Guerrero was still chugging after his man but more hesitantly – and shipped another lovely right in centre ring as he paused between exchanges. Mayweather's brain was now fully synchronised with his hands and feet. His eyes blazed with joy in his work and ploughed another teeth-rattling right into Guerrero's lumping-up features.
Having established the tempo, Mayweather now was content to wait for openings, while Guerrero, pain joining puzzlement, grew ragged. He did not lack for endeavour but the gulf in class widened by the minute as right after right bounced off his head.
At half way, standing in front of his tormentor like a store dummy, Guerrero was clueless as to how to solve his growing dilemma, self-doubt that paralysed him, and Mayweather was happy to fill the voids with a volley of head shots.
Both fighters come from boxing families, but Mayweather's are closer to royalty and Floyd is the undisputed king, whatever the loudness of his father, Floyd Snr, who worked his corner after an absence of 13 years, and uncles, Roger and Jeff. Guerrero's father, looking more like Carlos Santana than an ex-fighter should, was powerless to help his son across the ring, meanwhile – just as Mayweather said he would be after Ruben's intemperate outburst and near-fracas with Floyd Snr earlier in the week.
Trailing by a six rounds to one, Guerrero approached the home stretch a desperate man. If he did not claw back the eighth, he would have to do what nobody had managed in 43 fights, and knock out Floyd Mayweather on the champion's way to boxing's Hall of Fame. A cut over his left eye, courtesy of a stray elbow, did not help and Mayweather went to work on him like a surgeon, shredding his opponent's skin and his confidence with every raking shot. A big left hook, several glove-lowering shots to the body, and he sensed he had his man ready for the kill. But that injured hand stymied him.
As a counter-point to the perfection, Floyd Snr forgot to put his son's mouthguard in at the start of the ninth, but this did no more than delay the punishment. Operating on little more than stubbornness and fighting instinct, Guerrero won cheers for his persistence as he searched for the single punch that might ease his embarrassment. It did not come.
He had gone from boundingly confident to resigned to bewildered. His task now was to survive and hope. Any creeping sloth evident in Mayweather's win over Miguel Cotto this time last year was never evident here, as he moved with the practised ease of a dancer, rolling under wild onslaughts, turning his man like a rag doll in corners and, one-handed now, running down the clock.
If Guerrero were to hear the final bell, he would have Mayweather's injury and inbuilt caution to thank as much as his own doggedness. As they rumbled in the penultimate stanza, all semblance of a contest had faded into memories of the first and second rounds. The crowd grew restless, craving action they could understand, like a knockout.
The fighters all but cuddled like brothers at the start of the 12th – and, against a backdrop of mindless catcalls from a packed auditorium, they fought like brothers, with that persistent anger born of familiarity. If Guerrero had got to know Mayweather over the course of 36 minutes, it was that here was a fighter who had earned the right to call himself great. On the night, God didn't quite make it to the party.