LAS VEGAS-The legs are still alive as Floyd “Money” Mayweather proved by retaining the WBC welterweight world title by unanimous decision over the gutsy Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero on Saturday.
He may have looked slow and aging in his last fight, but Mayweather (44-0, 26 Kos) showed an aggressive Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 Kos) that slick movement and defensive skills are still his to command at the MGM Grand.
“I tip my hat off to Robert Guerrero, he’s a true warrior,” said Mayweather, 36. Both hugged after the fight.
Mayweather and Guerrero had some back and forth exchanges for the first three rounds. Each had his moment especially when fighting in the clinches. But during round three it looked like Mayweather was finding the range for his right hand leads.
In the fifth round Guerrero turned up the pressure, but was wary of Mayweather’s counters. Some left hands to the body and head landed for the southpaw Guerrero, but Mayweather returned with sizzling right hand counters that sent sweat flying from the Californian’s head.
“He hit me with some good body shots,” said Guerrero, 30. “That’s why he’s undefeated.”
Mayweather dominated the sixth round with right hand counters that landed flush as if fired from a hand cannon. Guerrero couldn’t seem to adjust and seemed a little puzzled. Mayweather took full advantage.
Guerrero had a much better round in the seventh as Mayweather seemed to take a strategic rest. As Mayweather clinched Guerrero shot little body shots that scored, but did not hurt the champion. It was just a brief rest.
Mayweather reloaded the right hands in big fashion in the eighth round. A cut appeared on Guerrero’s left eye and it seemed to energize Mayweather. Suddenly the right hands came in dazzling fashion and one stunned Guerrero who wobbled a bit but stayed upright. Mayweather tried to finish, but Guerrero held his ground.
“I wanted to get a knock out but I hurt my hand,” said Mayweather.
Guerrero seemed fired up and more determined in the beginning of round nine. Mayweather worked into the corner as Guerrero opened up with a three punch combo and a head butt. Mayweather complained a little.
Mayweather slipped into cruise control through rounds 10 and 11 with few punches and a lot of clinches. Guerrero took advantage and pounded the body. With 30 seconds left Mayweather looked to shoot the right leads. A few landed and kept Guerrero at bay.
“I landed some great shots but he’s a great fighter,” Guerrero said. “He was on his game plan.”
Not wishing to take chances Mayweather moved more than ever in the final round as Guerrero loaded up and tried to catch the elusive champion. A few times Guerrero landed some body blows inside. But overall, Mayweather remained fresh enough to stay away from Guerrero’s attacks.
“Everybody was saying I was slowing down in age,” Mayweather said.
All three judges scored it for Mayweather 117-111.
Mayweather credited his father Floyd Mayweather Sr. for the renewed defensive tactics.
“He said I will last longer if I get hit less,” Mayweather said.
New featherweight champion
The WBC featherweight world title changed hands as Abner Mares (26-0-1, 14 Kos) won by technical knockout of good friend Daniel Ponce De Leon (44-5, 35 Kos) with some sizzling right hand bombs.
Mares floored Ponce De Leon in the second round with a left hook followed by a right hand that landed high on the head. It came as the southpaw Ponce De Leon was advancing strongly but Mares stood his ground and delivered the blows.
Ponce De Leon put on the pressure against Mares and seemed to regain momentum from rounds four through six. But Mares always seemed to have the right hand at the ready and unleashed it in the ninth round to floor Ponce De Leon again. When the lefty got up Mares attacked and landed perhaps eight more right hands.
“When I dropped him both times I felt bad,” said Mares. “He’s my friend.”
Ponce De Leon was upset by the stoppage.
“He does have a strong punch,” said Ponce De Leon. “The referee stopped it so quickly.”
Mares now becomes a world champion in a third weight division.
East L.A.’s Leo Santa Cruz (24-0-1, 14 Kos) blew through Venezuela’s Alexander Munoz (36-5, 28 Kos) and became the first to knock out the former world champion. Santa Cruz moved up to junior featherweight and looked very strong in dismantling Munoz. A flurry of right hands from Cruz ended the night for Munoz at 1:05 of round four.
“I have to work on my defense,” Santa Cruz said.
J’Leon Love (16-0, 8 Kos) survived a knockdown in round six to rally to a split decision win over hard luck Gabe Rosado (21-7, 13 Kos) after 10 rugged middleweight rounds. A counter right by Rosado dropped Love, but that incited a firefight from Love. He turned things around but then was caught in the ninth round and nearly dropped again. Love edged Rosado in the last round. Judge Glen Trowbridge had Rosado winning 95-94. Herb Santos had Love 97-92 as did Dave Moretti 95-94.
“I can’t control the judges,” said Rosado aptly.
Love was complimentary of Rosado.
“I never doubted Rosado,” said Love. “I got dropped by a good shot I didn’t see.”
Romania’s Ronald Gavril (4-0) landed a body shot to open up Roberto Yong (5-7-2) and his shoulder roll defense before unloading three rights to the head. Referee Russell Mora stopped the fight in the third round of the super middleweight clash.
Super middleweight Luis Arias (5-0, 3 Kos) fought a phone booth battle against Lancaster’s DonYil Livingston (8-3-1, 4 Kos) and emerged with a close majority decision victory after six rounds. Arias had his moments in the first two rounds but Livingston stormed down the stretch with some solid shots. Judge Lisa Giampa saw it 57-57, but Bob Bennett saw 58-56 and Al Lefkowitz 58-55.