On Saturday night Floyd Mayweather dominated Juan Manuel Marquez in their highly anticipated welterweight showdown. He didn’t even lose a round against one of the best fighters in the world, a fighter unanimously rated in the top 3 pound for pound. However, despite the dominance of the performance, Mayweather left a large elephant lingering in the room after the fight, an elephant with $600,000 stamped across its forehead.
When the details of the Mayweather vs. Marquez fight were hashed out, the two camps agreed that the bout would be fought at a catch-weight of 144 lbs. This was agreed upon because Marquez never had fought above 135 lbs in his career, and he had only two fights above the super featherweight division, which has a 130 pound limit.
It was also a signal to the camp of Manny Pacquiao, the division jumping pound for pound king, that Mayweather may be open to a catch-weight agreement in a bout of their own. Important since Pacquiao’s camp forced Miguel Cotto to agree to a 145 lb catch-weight for their November fight.
Even with the catch-weight in place, Mayweather would have a clear size advantage against Marquez. Despite the boxing promotional magic that showed Marquez at or above Mayweather’s eye level during their weigh-in showdown – achieved as Mayweather stood barefoot in front of Marquez, who was wearing sneakers – Mayweather held an advantage to the tune of several inches in height and about half a foot in reach.
More important than the usual creative tactics taken to boost the sales of a pay-per-view fight, there was a small snag during the weigh-ins. Mayweather ended up coming in at 146 lbs, two pounds over the agreed upon catch-weight. He refused to sweat down the final two pounds – a move which could significantly drain his energy prior to the fight – and instead agreed to pay a fine of $600,000 to Marquez. Already the bigger man, Mayweather now also held the advantage of not having to cut down his weight the entire way.
Whether or not Mayweather ever intended to make 144 lbs is another matter. The problem stemming from this weigh-in snag is that it showed Mayweather’s true colors. There now can be no denying that Mayweather is a full-fledged welterweight.
That admission takes nothing away from his accomplishment of storming all the way up from the super featherweight division and eventually grabbing a title at junior middleweight. It may take something away from his performance on Saturday night though.
Make no mistake about it, Mayweather put on a show. He connected on roughly 60% of his punches, while leaving Marquez floundering away, landing an abysmal 15% of his shots. He completely dictated the fight, and he punished Marquez with solid, flush shots throughout the encounter. To humiliate a fighter of that caliber in such a way is a feat not to be taken lightly, regardless of the weight.
But that dominance is also the problem. When the two men squared off in the ring, the trick photography of the weigh-in removed, Mayweather loomed as a significantly larger man. Not just in height, but in the broad build of his upper body. As he coasted through the bout as if it was just another one of his impressive pad workouts that he performs with his uncle, the question has to be asked of why Mayweather did not turn up the heat and get Marquez out of the fight.
At any point in the engagement from the sixth round on, it was clear that should Mayweather switch gears and go all out, that Marquez would either hit the canvas or need to be saved by his corner or the referee. However, Mayweather was content to ride out the rest of the fight on cruise control, taking home a decision so wide that is must have been embarrassing for Marquez to hear.
If Mayweather was really still a junior welterweight, a 140 lb fighter who decided to campaign at higher weight classes because of his skill alone, there would be no problem with that. But as his $600,000 penance to Marquez showed, Mayweather is nothing but a welterweight. He diligently bulked up his frame as he progressed throughout his career, and he’s a far cry from the scrawny young fighter that began his professional career fresh off a bronze medal performance at the 1996 Olympics. With that in mind, he should have stepped on the gas and knocked his man out.
Still, the performance throws more gas onto the fire that is the buildup for a potential Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight. Pacquiao has a penchant for one-upping Mayweather, brutally stopping Oscar De La Hoya where Mayweather won a decision, one-punch kayoing Ricky Hatton in two rounds where Mayweather needed 10. While Mayweather made his mark by dominating a fighter that gave Pacquiao fits in two fights, a more significant statement would have been made with a knockout.
If Pacquiao manages to one-up Mayweather again by stopping or dominating Miguel Cotto, then the boxing world, including this writer, will be packing up and booking a flight to Vegas to take in the fight of the generation. If not, then Mayweather, a true welterweight, has no choice but to square off against the likes of Miguel Cotto or Shane Mosley, two men that call the welterweight division home and two men that he will still be favored to beat.