By Vic Tafur
LAS VEGAS -- Floyd Mayweather, humanitarian?
For the 44th time in 44 pro fights, Mayweather got in a boxing ring Saturday night against someone with bad intentions and left with his arm raised, smiling. The last 20 or so bouts have been against essentially handpicked opponents, as Mayweather also serves as his own promoter, and some critics say this tarnishes his crown as the current king of boxing.
But Mayweather is also making dreams come true. Who in mainstream America ever heard of Victor Ortiz before he fought Mayweather in 2011? And now he was on "Dancing with the Stars" this season.
Robert Guerrero, whose face ate Mayweather's left jabs and stiff rights for 12 rounds, had been unsuccessfully trying to get a "big" fight for years. He earned $3 million for just walking into the MGM Grand ring Saturday night, and now he is finally out of the financial hole from his wife's successful battle with leukemia.
Mayweather has his trainers, entourage and fans wear "The Money Team" t-shirts and caps. His opponents should go on to his website and buy something too -- it's the least they can do.
The 36-year-old Mayweather was coming off a year layoff, serving two months in jail for a domestic violence case against his ex-girlfriend. He was much mellower than usual in the build-up, and brought his father, Floyd Sr., back to his corner as trainer after seven years of bickering at each other.
Mayweather walked in to the ring with Lil' Wayne rapping on a microphone walking in right next to him. And the champ looked sweeter than a "Lollipop" as the changes he made obviously worked for him.
He had some bounce in his step and was never threatened by Guerrero (and obviously didn't fear "The Ghost"). He landed 60 percent of his power punches -- including 23 of 30 in the eighth round -- and won a comfortable 12-round decision. (The three judges had it 117-111, we had it 118-110.)
Fans started booing after that eighth round as Guerrero (32-1-1) -- who had a cut over his left eye -- became cautious and stopped throwing as many punches, in deference to Mayweather's speed.
"I feel bad I didn't get the knockout tonight that the fans wanted," Mayweather said. "I hurt my right hand."
Guerrero, though, like Mayweather, has never been knocked down or out in his career.
Mayweather, a 6-1 favorite, hasn't lost in eight years and takes another step forward in his quest to become the only champ not named Rocky Marciano to retire undefeated. He has five fights left on his six fight, $200 million deal with Showtime.
Who gets the next payday, or shot at Mayweather's title and legacy?
Canelo Alvarez, the red-headed Mexican sensation?
That's what fans would like to see Sept. 14, which Golden Boy Promotions has locked up as the next big fight night in Las Vegas. (By the way, if you are a boxing fan or just a Las Vegas fan, make sure to go to Vegas on a fight weekend before the big ref upstairs counts you out. There really is no sports atmosphere like it, not even the Super Bowl.)
Mayweather said he plans to fight again then, and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said Alvarez will definitely fight on that card -- he hopes against Mayweather. But Mayweather ducked and dodged Alvarez just like he used to when he didn't want to fight Manny Pacquiao - before Pacquiao didn't want to fight him (robbing the fans of the matchup they really wanted to see the last 10 years.)
"I'm not ducking or dodging anyone," Mayweather said. "You don't get to just point a finger and get a fight with me. Canelo is a hell of a fighter. I just got done with a fight, and we'll figure out what we're going to do next in a little bit."
Schaefer said that Mayweather could also go against the defensively challenged English star Amir Khan or Danny Garcia if they come up from 140 pounds to 147. Ortiz is another option, Schaefer said, but then he caught himself (even he isn't that good a promoter) and said maybe Ortiz would fight Guerrero first.
"It's going to be a problem for whoever it is," Floyd Mayweather Sr. said. "Floyd made Guerrero look like a fool all night, hitting the ropes."
His son thanked his dad for his help, was very gracious to Guerrero and even thanked the media several times for helping promote the fight. And for saying he had slowed down.
"They said I lost my legs because I'm 36," he said. "I showed the world I can still box."
Box as well as anyone out there. As far as any historical claims because of his undefeated record, even his often-exaggerating father put the brakes on that one.
"There were much better fighters back in the day of Sugar Ray (Leonard)," Mayweather Sr. said. "But that's not my son's fault."
No it's not. Just like it's not his fault if he's getting rich, and making other fighters rich, on fights that fans aren't necessarily dying to see … until they reach and get the 70 bucks for pay-per-view or the hundreds and thousands it costs to buy a ticket.
* * *
Vic Tafur covers the NFL and boxing for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is on Twitter at @VicTafur and the burly (husky?) 6-foot-7 reporter made Evander Holyfield do a double-take in the elevator before the fight.