Just Too Good
The sport's best,Floyd Mayweather Jr., was in the pink against Carlos Baldomir, cruising toanother title—maybe his last
IT WASN'T much ofa fight, but then his never are. It was 12 rounds of him darting in and out,flicking his brittle fists into some mug's face and then bobbing and flexing,rolling his shoulders, pivoting for another angle of attack, never getting hitin the meantime. There is some question as to whether this is entertainment.Floyd Mayweather Jr. insists it is, in the manner of a one-man show onBroadway. Many in the crowd in Las Vegas last Saturday night were unsure, somebooing, some laughing as he turned Carlos Baldomir, boxing's feel-good story of2006, into an awkward threshing machine. For sure, it's not competition.
Mayweather(37--0, with 24 KOs) so outclassed Baldomir in winning the Argentine's WBCwelterweight title ("A cakewalk in the park," said Mayweather,conflating his clichés in the same way he does his punches) that only one ofthe three judges scoring the bout could give the former champion so much as around. Baldomir (43-10-6, 13 KOs) was sufficiently irrelevant to the exercisethat it could very well have been a one-man show. Mayweather, who has been achampion in five weight classes now, from 130 to 147, is undefeated,untouchable, unbeatable. His promotions are basically a technique to get fightfans to pay $49.95 for a session of extreme sparring.
All the35-year-old Baldomir could contribute to the event was some backstory, the oldfeather-duster-salesman-wins-a-boxing-title angle. As attractive as that wasgoing into the fight, it ceased to matter immediately after the bell, whenMayweather became a frustrating wisp, turning Baldomir's supposed size andpower advantage into comical flailing.
Mayweather isunapologetic for events like this, as well he should be. His speed, hisold-timey style, that old-fashioned devotion to the sport and his willingnessto take on all comers—these can hardly be held against him. Perhaps he mighthave put Baldomir, and at least some of the fans, out of their misery earlier,but Mayweather said his oft-injured right hand was on the fritz again. In anycase, it was the kind of dominating performance that probably should beappreciated more than criticized.
Appreciated,anyway, before it's too late. Mayweather announced shortly after his victorythat he would have one more fight—presumably against Oscar De La Hoya, in what,for the foreseeable future, might be boxing's last mega event—and then retiringat age 30. He was seemingly serious enough that two of his handlers wererequired to work a towel over his dewy eyes at the press conference.
"I'mhurting," Mayweather said, struggling for composure, "because I lovethis sport so much. But I've done everything I want to do. I kept itreal."
He certainlyseemed genuine, though postfight conditions are hardly the best forcareer-defining decisions. Perhaps even Mayweather recognizes that his fightsare becoming increasingly pointless. The better he fights, the fewer hepleases. A De La Hoya bout (this would be De La Hoya's supposed swan song aswell, assuming egos can be wrangled and purses negotiated for the May date)might satisfy everybody's requirement for drama. Until it actually happens,anyway.
Hey, there's an American heavyweight champion! ShannonBriggs (inset, left) won the WBO title by stopping Sergei Liakhovich lastSaturday, breaking the Eastern Bloc strangle-hold on the division. Now thereare just three heavyweight champs from the former Soviet Union.... The WBCannounced that in future title fights the judges' running scores will beposted, after the fourth and eighth rounds.... Floyd Mayweather, by the way,insists that his retirement decision has nothing to do with money: He hasplenty. "If we have to ride four-deep in the Rolls," he says, "wewill."