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Just Too Good
IT WASN'T much of a 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 hit in 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 on Broadway. Many in the crowd in Las Vegas last Saturday night were unsure, some booing, some laughing as he turned Carlos Baldomir, boxing's feel-good story of 2006, 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 WBC welterweight title ("A cakewalk in the park," said Mayweather, conflating his clich�s in the same way he does his punches) that only one of the three judges scoring the bout could give the former champion so much as a round. Baldomir (43-10-6, 13 KOs) was sufficiently irrelevant to the exercise that it could very well have been a one-man show. Mayweather, who has been a champion in five weight classes now, from 130 to 147, is undefeated, untouchable, unbeatable. His promotions are basically a technique to get fight fans to pay $49.95 for a session of extreme sparring.
All the 35-year-old Baldomir could contribute to the event was some backstory, the old feather-duster-salesman-wins-a-boxing-title angle. As attractive as that was going into the fight, it ceased to matter immediately after the bell, when Mayweather became a frustrating wisp, turning Baldomir's supposed size and power advantage into comical flailing.
Mayweather is unapologetic for events like this, as well he should be. His speed, his old-timey style, that old-fashioned devotion to the sport and his willingness to take on all comers—these can hardly be held against him. Perhaps he might have 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 any case, it was the kind of dominating performance that probably should be appreciated more than criticized.
Appreciated, anyway, before it's too late. Mayweather announced shortly after his victory that 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 retiring at age 30. He was seemingly serious enough that two of his handlers were required to work a towel over his dewy eyes at the press conference.
"I'm hurting," Mayweather said, struggling for composure, "because I love this sport so much. But I've done everything I want to do. I kept it real."
He certainly seemed genuine, though postfight conditions are hardly the best for career-defining decisions. Perhaps even Mayweather recognizes that his fights are becoming increasingly pointless. The better he fights, the fewer he pleases. A De La Hoya bout (this would be De La Hoya's supposed swan song as well, assuming egos can be wrangled and purses negotiated for the May date) might satisfy everybody's requirement for drama. Until it actually happens, anyway.