A worldwide audience saw Floyd Mayweather beat Argentina’s Carlos Baldomir in dominating fashion for the WBC welterweight title, but a small cadre in the Las Vegas boxer’s corner nearly saw the perfect world come crashing down.
“People don’t know how close we came to ending the fight,” said Leonard Ellerbee, who worked Mayweather’s corner on Saturday night.
Now the undefeated boxer, who is considered the best in the world, is retiring from the sport that he’s learned since the age of five years old, probably early next year.
“Just one more fight and that’s it,” said a tearful Mayweather, perhaps emotional about the sport that he’s been reared in since infancy.
Whether it’s family pressure, failure to fight Oscar De La Hoya or the injury-prone fists, Mayweather has decided to leave the sport that he’s come to dominate impressively since he turned professional in 1996.
“People have talked bad about me, said I didn’t fight anybody, but I’ve done all I can,” Mayweather told a throng of reporters during the post-fight press conference at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. “One more fight and I am done with boxing.”
Though most felt Mayweather beat Baldomir easily after 12 rounds, his pinpoint barrage on his opponent’s cement head did more damage to his own right hand than it did the Argentine’s cranium.
“It was hurt pretty bad,” Ellerbee said after the fight. “I asked him if he wanted to continue and he said let’s do it.”
It may have been the most spectacular win of Mayweather’s career despite the lack of exchanges especially in the last three rounds.
Baldomir, who crushed Arturo Gatti and knocked fear into Zab Judah with his pulverizing rights, could not beat up a one-armed man despite having more than four rounds to accomplish the feat.
“I never noticed his hand was hurt,” Baldomir said after the fight.
Perhaps dizzy from the machine gun rat-tat-tat of Mayweather’s punches, Baldomir never recognized that Mayweather’s lightning right hand was immobile after round nine.
According to Mayweather the injury occurred somewhere near the sixth round.
“I never felt pain like that before,” said Mayweather.
Instead of beating Baldomir to the punch as he had done in the first five rounds, Mayweather resorted to left hooks, a stiff jab and moving quickly out of range of Baldomir’s clever unorthodox counters.
A right hand flush to Mayweather’s chin in the second round by Baldomir proved he could not hurt the fighter considered the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world. The rest was gravy for Mayweather until his right hand was broken or sprained in the second half of the 12-round fight.
Injuries to Mayweather’s right hand have happened many times including his last bout against Judah and to both hands against Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez in 2001. For a boxer it’s the worse nightmare.
“I’ve accomplished what I set out to do,” Mayweather said. “No man can do more.”
The world of heavyweights saw two Southern Californians battle for seven rounds in nonstop action as Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola forced the referee to halt the contest with Damian “Bolo” Wills.
It was Arreola’s preparation that proved the difference as he entered the final week at 222 pounds. During the official weighing, the Riverside heavyweight scaled at 229 pounds while Wills weighed 250 pounds.
Weight proved to be the big difference between the two fighters who are both six feet four inches tall.
“There’s a misconception that having more weight means more power in the punches. That’s not the way it works,” says Art “Slim” Carillo, who trains heavyweights and fought professionally. “When you’re at a lighter weight your hands and feet are quicker. The fighter who can move better is going to win most of the time.”
Arreola was the quicker fighter against Wills who withstood tremendous battering in the second and seventh round.
HBO commentator Larry Merchant said it was a rare sight to see two heavyweights engage in a seesaw battle at such a high-punch volume.
For Arreola it means entrance to the first tier of heavyweights and possible meetings against current titleholders or top contenders from around the world.
“I don’t want to go to Russia,” quipped Arreola when it was suggested by promoter Dan Goossen. “It’s too cold and I don’t own a coat. Make them come over here.”
Though Wills lost the grudge match, it’s not the end for the Hollywood-based fighter who won’t be frozen out of the heavyweight scene. All it proved is he cannot carry 250 pounds into the ring and hope to match endurance and speed with fellow heavyweight competitors.
In fact, it’s easy to foresee another clash between the two Southern California prizefighters somewhere down the road.
Fights on television
Fri. pay-per-view, 7:30 p.m., Evander Holyfield (39-8-2) vs. Fres Oquendo (26-3).
Fri. Telefutura, 8 p.m., Vicente Escobedo (10-1) vs. Ramon Guevara (7-9).
Sat. HBO, 7 p.m., Wladimir Klitschko (46-3) vs. Calvin Brock (29-0); replay of Floyd Mayweather vs. Carlos Baldomir.