The Reuters global sports blog
Time for Mayweather to enter the ring with Pacquiao
Floyd Mayweather Jr destroyed Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez with a ruthlessly clinical display in Las Vegas at the weekend but the non-title welterweight bout ended with an overall feeling of dissatisfaction.
The controversial weigh-in on the eve of the eagerly anticipated fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena raised the biggest question mark of all.
Marquez, a gutsy five-times world champion in three different weight classes, conceded four pounds to the bigger and faster Mayweather after tipping the scales at 142.
Because the 12-round bout was initially contracted as a welterweight contest with a catch weight limit of 144 pounds, Mayweather was heavily fined for coming in two pounds over the limit.
Fight insiders later confirmed the undefeated American was penalised $600,000, a relatively small sacrifice for a significant advantage on fight night.
By the time the two boxers entered the ring on Saturday in front of a non-sellout crowd of 13,116, the difference was probably close to 10 pounds.
Marquez weighed in at 148 moments before the fight but Mayweather refused to disclose his own weight.
“I tried my best but the weight was a big problem,” Marquez, 36, said during the post-fight news conference. “I think there was maybe a 20-pound difference in weight. If I had three or four fights at this weight I would have done better.”
Ever since Mayweather announced his return to the ring in May and that his first opponent would be the hugely popular Mexican, many boxing fans pondered why Filipino southpaw Manny Pacquiao had not been selected instead.
Mayweather was widely regarded as the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter when he stopped Briton Ricky Hatton in the 10th round of their 2007 encounter but, since the American’s retirement, that tag has passed to Pacquiao.
Pacquiao, like Marquez much smaller and lighter than Mayweather, has impressively beaten Oscar De la Hoya and Hatton in his last two bouts.
A match-up between Pacquiao and Mayweather would certainly settle the argument over who is the best fighter in contemporary boxing but the American has so far shied away from that showdown.
Instead, Mayweather decided to end his 21-month absence from the ring with the man widely considered to be the next-best pound-for-pound fighter after Pacquiao, a Mexican who conceded a five-inch reach advantage and at least 10 pounds to the American on Saturday.
Although Mayweather showed no sign of rust in destroying Marquez with a unanimous points victory and reminded the watching public of his superb defensive skills, many boxing fans were left with a sour taste in their mouths.
The brash-talking Mayweather, who has continually bragged he is the best fighter of his generation, refused to be drawn into the Pacquiao discussion shortly after his triumphant return.
“People say Pacquiao is number one,” said the 32-year-old American, 40-0 (25 KOs). “I don’t have to rate myself. I know what I can do. Pound-for-pound is an opinion.
“I was a professional for 11 years, and I was a world champion for 10 years. I went away for two years, came back, I fought the number two fighter. I didn’t rate him, they did.
“I am a critic of myself. I want to be the best I can be.”