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Mayweather didn’t accomplish much on Saturday night

19
Sep

Floyd Mayweather Jr. put Juan Manuel Marquez on his back in the second round but couldn't put him away. Photo / Chris Cozzone-FightWireImages.com

LAS VEGAS – Floyd Mayweather Jr. didn’t do himself much good on Saturday night at the MGM Grand.

Yes, he did what everyone expected him to do, outclass an exceptional but smaller and much slower opponent from beginning to end. He deserves some credit for that, particularly after a 21-month layoff.

However, he made no significant statement other than the fact he’s back. And the reason for that is simple: He takes risks neither in choosing his opponents nor in the ring, which is why he isn’t nearly as popular as he thinks he is.

Mayweather selected Marquez as his comeback opponent because he knew the Mexican star couldn’t give him a fight, not two weight classes above his natural weight.

Fighters always weigh risk against reward; that’s part of the business. However, without any risk — which was the case more or less on Saturday — a fight isn’t compelling. This is why there was relatively little buzz about this promotion and why the promoters had trouble selling tickets. Knowledgeable boxing fans knew this wasn’t a good matchup.

Mayweather could give his reputation a boost by fighting Manny Pacquiao, assuming Pacquiao beats Cotto on Nov. 14. Pacquiao might not do much better than Marquez did but the perception would be that he can, which would create excitement.

And those who push him to accept meaningful challenges would get off his back if chooses to fight the man who confronted him in the ring after the final bell Saturday night, Shane Mosley, one of the few fighters who can match him in speed and boxing ability.

If he fights Mosley and wins, the fodder to criticize him would evaporate.

However, we’ll believe it when we see it. Mayweather took a chance when he fought Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, when he knew he would make by far the biggest payday of his career. Beyond that, Mayweather really hasn’t taken a risk since he fought Jose Luis Castillo a second time 2002.

In other words, “Money,” as he is known, wants easy money.

And nothing changes when he steps into the ring. He does enough to win without taking chances.

Mayweather probably could’ve knocked out Marquez. He knocked his foe down with a left hook in the second round and hurt him. Instead of going in for the kill, which would’ve required risk, he remained cautious and allowed Marquez to recover.

Mayweather applied somewhat more pressure later in the fight, landing some fast, hard punches, but even then his attack was measured, not even remotely reckless. Again, he isn’t about taking that kind of risk.

Someone asked: What if that were Mosley in the ring with Marquez? The Mexican probably wouldn’t have survived past six rounds because Mosley — whose speed is similar to Mayweather’s — would’ve done whatever necessary to land that final blow. Mayweather wouldn’t.

Purists admit that Mayweather’s skills are remarkable. They’d be foolish not to. He certainly is one of the most gifted fighters of his generation, particularly his defensive abilities. Marquez couldn’t touch him, a fate he shares with many other frustrating fighters.

That would explain the scores: 118-109, 120-107, 119-108, which means two judges gave Marquez two rounds, the third had it a shutout. I scored it 119-108.

That doesn’t mean he is what he insists he is — an entertainer, at least not in the ring. Those who follow boxing generally don’t want a beautiful exhibition of boxing; they want action. And the last thing Mayweather provides is action.

That’s why the energy in the arena on Saturday night was muted. Mexican fans tried to spur Marquez on by chanting — “Mexico! Mexico! or Marquez! Marquez!” — but that was it. Beyond that, it was a boring 47 minutes, which is exactly what we all expected from Mayweather.

At the post-fight news conference, Mayweather complained for the umpteenth time that he doesn’t get the credit he deserves, even as it applies to his skills. Let’s be clear again: No one is questioning his ability; it is sublime.

However, we will always believe that he could’ve done so much more if he refuses to take some chances. He should fight Mosley. He should fight Pacquiao. And when he does, he should really fight them. Then he might be as great as he claims he is.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]

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