Floyd Mayweather Jr. fought as if he had never left the ring, coming back from a year’s absence Saturday night to win a unanimous 12-round decision over Robert Guerrero in their welterweight title fight.
Mayweather was masterful at times, landing thudding right hands and bloodying Guerrero’s face in a performance that mimicked some of his best fights. Mayweather hurt Guerrero on several occasions, including a series of right hands near the end of the eighth round that buckled Guerrero’s knees.
All three judges scored the bout 117-111. The Associated Press had it 119-109.
”We did it again,” Mayweather said after earning at least $32 million for his night’s work. ”I take my hat off to Robert Guerrero. He’s a true warrior.”
Mayweather remained unbeaten in 44 fights, while handing Guerrero only his second loss as a pro.
Mayweather was booed at times for not mixing it up more, but he didn’t need to. He was content to move and land jabs and right hand leads, while Guerrero grew increasingly frustrated trying to chase him.
When Guerrero did hit him, Mayweather quickly got out of the way and, more often than not, landed a right hand of his own.
”I landed some good shots on him,” Guerrero said. ”He’s a great fighter. He’s slick and quick.”
The fight at the MGM Grand arena settled into a familiar pattern from the third round on as Mayweather made adjustments and started landing some crisp right leads to Guerrero’s head. Guerrero was eager to trade punches, but often couldn’t find Mayweather, who had already moved out of range.
Before the fight there had been some concern about Mayweather having ring rust after going a year without a fight. But he didn’t miss a beat, using his defensive skills to baffle Guerrero and keep him off balance.
”I needed my father tonight,” said Mayweather, whose dad was in his corner for the first time in 13 years. ”My defense was on point and he told me to stick with my defense and that the less you get hit the longer you last.”
By the fifth round Mayweather’s confidence was growing and he began landing some heavy right hands to Guerrero’s head. Guerrero kept plodding after him, but paid the price as Mayweather shot counter right hands through his defenses
Mayweather was faster and stronger than Guerrero, who was fighting for only the third time at 147 pounds. Mayweather said he hurt his right hand while going after the knockout in the eighth round, but still managed to control the fight round after round.
”I feel bad I didn’t get the knockout tonight that the fans wanted,” Mayweather said. ”I was still trying to go for the knockout but it didn’t happen.
Mayweather was a 5-1 favorite coming into the fight, but Guerrero was considered dangerous coming off a big win over Andre Berto. Guerrero hadn’t lost in eight years, and vowed to be the first to beat Mayweather, now 44-0.
But he had never fought Mayweather, who got hit more than normal in his last fight against Miguel Cotto a year ago.
”Honestly, Floyd could have danced the whole night,” Floyd Mayweather Sr. said. ”There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do in there tonight.”
Mayweather had crafted much of his career using his defense as his main weapon, and said he turned to his father to regain his old style.
”After the Cotto fight I realized my defense wasn’t what it should be and I had to hone my skills,” Mayweather said.
Guerrero (31-2-1) was cut over his left eye in the eighth round, when Mayweather seemed on the verge of stopping him.
Ringside punch stats showed Mayweather landing 60 percent of his power punches, an unusually high rate. That included 23 of 30 power punches in the eighth round, when Guerrero was wobbled.
All told, Mayweather was credited with landing 195 punches to 113 for Guerrero.
Mayweather said he planned to fight again in September, a short turnaround for him, as part of a six-fight deal he has with the Showtime network.