By Vic Tafur
The press conference had long been over Saturday night, and that's saying something since post-fight press conferences almost last longer than the night of fights. The promoter is the MC ("Hey, let's hear it again for me") and he brings many of the undercard boxers up to the dais before the headliners come up.
A lot of the "reporters" in the packed room are wearing tight, baby-making dresses. Others who are waved in to the room are either part of a boxer's entourage or maybe played enough hands of $500 blackjack at the MGM Grand to get comped access. That's why many of the questions to Floyd Mayweather late Saturday night started with some variation of "that was a beautiful display of boxing, champ …"
Saturday's press conference lasted two hours, and returned-from-exile trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. was still answering questions about his son when the janitor turned the lights out.
So, figure 100 questions were asked of the promoters, fighters, trainers and advisors after the slick and quick Mayweather won a12-round decision over Robert Guerrero.
Not one was about Manny Pacquiao.
Remember way back two years ago when Mayweather facing Pacquiao was the only boxing story anybody wanted to talk about?
When were they going to fight? Why weren't they going to fight? How would they print enough money for when they fought? Could they really fight in a casino arena, or would they have to build a ring in the middle of desert so they could sell enough tickets.
It seemed like Mayweather was ducking Pacquiao at first, then when Pacquiao showed some slippage, he was the one who had a more-pressing opponent to fight.
Now? No one cares. And it doesn't seem like the era's two biggest fighters want to fight each other, anyway.
Mayweather (44-0) injured his right hand Saturday but went to the hospital and it's just sore, his camp said. The 36-year-old welterweight champ is planning to fight again at the MGM on Sept. 14 in the second pay-per-view bout of his six-fight, 30-month, $200 million deal with Showtime. It will probably be against Amir Khan, Devon Alexander, Danny Garcia, or not much-bigger threat Canelo Alvarez.
Pacquiao, meanwhile, signed on Monday to fight Brandon Rios on Nov. 24 in Macau, China. He is coming off two straight losses, one a mockery of a sham decision to Tim Bradley and one a devastating knockout at the hand of a bulked-up Juan Manuel Marquez.
The 34-year-old Pacquiao (54-5) needs a win to reclaim some heat and get back on Mayweather's radar if he can (or wants to), and the straight-ahead brawler Rios should do the trick.
Pacquiao wanted a fifth fight against Marquez, but after losing three times to him and getting a second, third and fourth shot and payday, Marquez didn't return the favor. He is tentatively set to fight Bradley at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Sept. 14 but they will change that date once Mayweather picks an opponent and starts printing posters. After all, Mayweather is as good as getting people interested in his fights as he is at winning them. Showtime didn't give him $200 million because he has a nice smile.
"At this level, it's all about selling fights," Mayweather acknowledged Saturday night.
The champ says he has changed and matured since his two-month stint in jail for domestic abuse last year, and it continued to look like it on Saturday night. He interrupted his part of the press conference to call up Guerrero and praise him, and even complimented Guerrero's dad and trainer, Ruben.
(Ruben had gone so far over the top with his yells of "wife beater" at media day and challenges to fight Floyd Sr. that he couldn't come back down to reality on Saturday. He was still screaming at Floyd Sr. minutes before the fight, and afterward yelled to the reporters sitting ringside that Mayweather had "run like a chicken!" … More like a rooster, with a big right hand.)
Guerrero was made to order for Mayweather, just like all of his opponents seem to be. He came right at Mayweather the first couple of rounds, which you don't want to do against a classic counterpuncher like Mayweather. Mayweather, thanks to the return of his father to his corner after seven years of back-and-forth insults, had a renewed focus on his defense in training.
"The less you get hit, the longer you last in boxing," said Mayweather, who tucks his chin behind his shoulder and then sets opponents up with a left jab.
Every time Guerrero got him against the ropes, Mayweather would duck and spin and fire off a right that would rush past Guerrero's gloves and bust him in the left eye or midsection. By Round 7, Guerrero was frozen in anticipation.
"I helped bring back the defense, Floyd could've danced the whole night," a proud Mayweather Sr said. "I told him to steal him with the right hand, that was the shot (Guerrero) couldn't see. I was hoping he'd have more (left) hook behind his right hand, but he hasn't fought in a year."
If Mayweather had looked like he was slowing down and vulnerable in his May 2012 win over Miguel Cotto, this was a new and improved version. Longtime publicist Bill Caplan said he had never seen the 146-pound Mayweather as cut and sculpted as he was at Friday's weigh-in.
Mayweather is locked in on finishing his career undefeated, and says these last five fights on his Showtime deal will be it for him.
If he wants to fight the bigger and undefeated Alvarez, next May makes more sense than four months from now. The Mayweather publicity machine and the rabid Mexican fan base would surely give the date a chance to eclipse the $2.4 million in pay-per-view buys and $120 million grossed when Mayweather beat fading legend Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.
Maybe he gets to Pacquiao after that. Maybe he doesn't.
Just like Frank Sinatra, another Las Vegas man who did it his way, Mayweather sings to his own tune.
"I have been at this 17 years and I have earned my stripes," he said. "If I want to pick and choose (opponents) at this point in my career, that's my prerogative. … I'm just going to keep working hard."
At training. At promoting. And at winning.
Vic Tafur covers the NFL and boxing for the San Francisco Chronicle. He is on Twitter at @VicTafur and has a poster of Sonny Liston next to one of his wife and kid.