LAS VEGAS -- The dust has settled and enough time has passed since Floyd Mayweather Jr. directed his own personal episode of "Masterpiece Theatre" in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night. Here are one observer's takeaways from another night of Las Vegas boxing:
1. The best offense is a good defense
Most of us have said it -- or at least thought it -- at some point over the past year or so. I know I have. I'll bet you have, too. "Floyd is losing some foot speed." "He doesn't have the same movement around the ring that he used to have." "He fights more flat-footed now." After he spent 12 rounds gliding around the ring like he was skating on a rink, it's probably time to put that chestnut to bed. Yes, he has fought more flat-footed in recent bouts, but it's pretty clear that, when he wants to, he can still move with the kind of grace that would make Dorothy Hamill look like Mark Hamill. (Kids, ask your parents.)
Mayweather's dominant performance against Robert Guerrero was built on a sublime display of defensive mastery. It was not all defense, of course, or else Mayweather would not have been able to land 60 percent of his power shots, cut Guerrero's left eye and appear on the verge of stopping him in the eighth before hurting his hand. But it was the defense that set all that up, that allowed Mayweather to slip Guerrero's punches and move into perfect position to land his own.
2. It's a father-and-child reunion
Publicly and privately, Mayweather offered a number of reasons for reinstating his father as head trainer for the first time in 12 years, including the fact that Uncle Roger's diabetes was diminishing his effectiveness, and that Big Floyd's own ailments prompted Little Floyd to consider the importance of re-establishing a bond with his father. But a large part of the calculation, he stated postfight, was a cold calculation that his father was the one who could return his defensive skills to the level they had once attained. The reunion seemingly appeared effective and seamless. And although one may well wonder, based on previous history, how long it will be before the relationship ruptures anew, Floyd Jr. at least gives the impression that, post-incarceration, he wants to accentuate the positive and keep a steady ship -- particularly as the finish line of his career is in sight.
3. There might not be five appealing and bookable opponents out there
One can make the case (and many did, prefight and postfight) that Robert Guerrero had no business being in the ring with Mayweather. Plenty -- including this writer -- predicted that the Boxer Formerly Known as Pretty Boy would, after a round or two of establishing his timing, utterly dominate. Which is exactly what happened. But for all that Mayweather is sometimes chided by critics for being at least as good a matchmaker as boxer, the sheer gulf in class between him and a man who recently brutalized a perfectly fine fighter in Andre Berto raises a question. Theoretically, Mayweather has five fights remaining on his Showtime deal and in his career. Realistically, who out there can pose a genuinely intriguing challenge for him?
Throw out Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Jr., as well as Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios. The politics of boxing are such that they won't happen. Neither, likely, will Sergio Martinez or Gennady Golovkin -- both because they are HBO fighters and, well, they're middleweights. The available pickings at 147 pounds are slim. Devon Alexander? Kell Brook? If Paulie Malignaggi gets by Adrien Broner -- and that's a big if -- on June 22, that fight could be sellable, if not necessarily competitive or attractive. The bench is deeper at junior welterweight; but how good of a chance would anyone really give Amir Khan, Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson or Lucas Matthysse against a Mayweather in the kind of form he displayed on Saturday night? Matthysse might be the most intriguing of those options if he overcomes Peterson in a couple of weeks, but it would be easy to see him punching at shadows for 12 long rounds, too.
And so we look up to junior middleweight, and to the one remaining potential big-money foe: Canelo Alvarez. But don't be surprised if that contest, like the Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown that hung over the sport for three long years, proves theoretical rather than actual, at least for a while. Mayweather isn't in any big hurry to move back up to 154 pounds, and it's doubtful Alvarez can make welterweight. Nor would Canelo necessarily want to make the effort; he just packed 40,000 people into the Alamodome, and he is fully aware of his leverage. He won't accept being paid 10 percent of what Mayweather earns, which is what Guerrero pocketed for his trouble on Saturday. The search for a large enough pot of gold may itself prove sufficiently difficult to put an Alvarez fight on temporary or permanent ice.
4. The thrill might already be gone
The return, after a year of inactivity and incarceration, of the sport's No. 1 pound-for-pound star should have been received with humongous enthusiasm. And to some extent, it was: The fight was on pay-per-view, the arena hosted a shade under 16,000 people, and there was a documentary about Mayweather on CBS, no less. And yet, fight week rarely had the energy that one generally associates with the biggest of the big fights: The mood among the crowd was oddly subdued, and even general awareness of the fight's existence appeared relatively low in the wider, not-oddly-obsessed-with-boxing public.
The folks at Showtime did everything they could to promote the fight, but the fighters weren't always cooperative. Mayweather, for example, fully aware that he was pocketing more than $30 million whatever happened, outwardly eschewed making himself available for media until the final days of the promotion. And Guerrero, though well supported on the night, doesn't have a particularly strong fan base, isn't especially well known and wasn't widely regarded as a great danger to Mayweather's undefeated record. As noted above, absent a clash with Alvarez, all those factors will likely come into play with most of Mayweather's potential foes. (Although not all: Amir Khan at least would likely bring the Brits in all their singing, drinking glory, albeit not on a Ricky Hatton scale.) Mayweather may well have five more great performances in him; but does he have five more great events?
5. Packing the card sure won't hurt
But if Mayweather's future main events threaten to be coronations rather than competitions, there is an answer of sorts: Make the rest of the card compelling. That's what Golden Boy promotions did on Saturday, with a televised undercard that promised much and then delivered. J'Leon Love recovered from a knockdown to squeak past Gabriel Rosado in a contest that started slow and then really heated up, only to be marred by the wayward 97-92 score of Herb Santos. Leo Santa Cruz underlined again that he is a beast at 122 pounds. And he may have a big fight of his own awaiting next year at featherweight, after Abner Mares looked hugely impressive in overwhelming hard-hitting and awkward Daniel Ponce De Leon to capture a title belt in his third weight class. Mares, in particular, really does appear to be the goods, and the path to the top of the featherweight heap now clearly goes through him.