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Boxing
Love him or hate him... Mayweather still No. 1
Lyle Fitzsimmons


By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the devil.

Without dipping my toe into the message boards and other fan forums out there since the final bell of his fight with Juan Manuel Marquez Saturday night/Sunday morning, I can pretty much assume that as the prevailing sentiment.

But you know what?

He's a real-life Satan incarnate who can, ahem... fight like hell.

In pitching an absolute, complete and comprehensive shutout of Marquez -- the critics' pre-comeback choice as the world's No. 2 fighter -- in his first ring action since 2007, the Pretty Boy now known as "Money" has answered one question with dominant certainty.

He, and not Manny Pacquiao or any other 21-month stand-in, is the world's best fighter.

Don't believe it?

Watch the tape. Or re-watch it, as the case may be.

And over the course of 36 minutes, find me one thing that says otherwise.


Floyd Mayweather Jr. has answered one question with dominant certainty. He is the world's best fighter.
One flaw. One error.

One chink in the armor that truly indicates -- regardless of the fact different styles make different fights -- that Pacquiao can do any better when he gets his chance next year.

Before you do, though, I'll save you all a little time.

Don't bother.

It doesn't exist.

Nowhere in a stretch of 12 rounds did Marquez do one specific thing or take one specific tack that caused the unflappable 32-year-old even a moment's worth of consternation.

Yes, he landed a couple right hands.

The first of which was answered with a sweeping left hook that put him on his back in round 2, toes pointing toward the MGM Grand light towers.

Yes, he attempted the occasional bull-rush charge.

All of which were answered with just enough movement, just enough shoulder roll and just enough of a counter right hand or another left, just for good measure.

And yes, he was on his feet at the end.

Though standing for the duration probably accomplished more for Mayweather -- reintroducing him to the rigors of a title-distance bout, for example -- than it did for Marquez, who picked up a few more welts, a few more scrapes and got a step closer to retirement than he'd been 24 hours previous.

Yes, it was that good.

And yes, I think he'll do precisely the same thing -- or similar enough -- to Pacquiao.

Before, I believed it.

Now, I'm as sure as I can be without having already seen it happen.

As for the weight issue that too many have been too happy to seize upon since Friday's events, forget it.

And no matter how decisive Nacho Beristain wanted to make it before the fight -- despite his fighter's insistence to the contrary -- and how pertinent Marquez suddenly insisted it was afterward, don't you believe it.

I mean, seriously folks. Come on.

Mayweather is 5-foot-8. Marquez is 5-foot-6.

Mayweather weighed 146 pounds. Marquez weighed 142 pounds.

Two inches and four pounds, no matter how they are distributed and what they consist of, simply aren't going to make as much of a competitive difference as was apparent Saturday night.

Ask Chris Byrd.

Or better yet, ask Mayweather about the 5-foot-10 Oscar De La Hoya he beat at 154 pounds.

While weighing all of 150 himself.

Instead, and regardless of catch weights and contracts and $600,000 payouts, a simple truth exists.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is better than Juan Manuel Marquez.

He was better at junior lightweight. He was better at lightweight.

He's better at welterweight.

And he'll be better at cruiserweight should the two men get back together 40 years from now after older age and a few baked goods add a few weight classes to their resumes.

No amount of dissension beforehand or excuse-making after is going to change that.

And if Manny Pacquiao/Freddie Roach truly believe different, they'll get their chance soon enough.

I, for one... can't wait to see it.

But I'm not so sure, based on Saturday night, that ol' Man/Fred still feels the same way.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new boss.

Same as the old boss.

And now, a note to those who reacted angrily to my Shane Mosley column earlier this month:

Gentlemen... start your death threats.

Because if you thought my request that he shut up and wait his turn for a big fight in the welterweight division was already worthy of physical violence in my direction, it's about to get worse.

He was a whiner two weeks ago.

Now, after Saturday night's in-ring nonsense, he's devolved to crybaby.

Lonely in the shadow cast by a flyweight-turned-welterweight and a once-beaten Puerto Rican proven his superior two years ago, Mosley seemed determined not to let a virtuoso return from a 21-month layoff nudge him even further down the pound-for-pound relevancy list.

So, instead of either A) remaining in his ringside seat and applauding Mayweather's successful comeback at the MGM Grand from afar; or B) nodding in Mayweather's direction and suggesting they sit down sometime soon to talk business, Shane took the petty way out at post-fight interview time.

Displaying the maturity of an overtired 18-month old, he hijacked the moment into a "someone pay attention to me" plea and joined Golden Boy co-celebrity Bernard Hopkins in a finger-wagging envy fest, prompting the requisite company line spin from the tuxedos on HBO.

"Mayweather does this to himself. Isn't it a shame?"

Sorry folks, but isn't that getting a little ridiculous?

Forgetting his dance card is already full with a deserving Joshua Clottey later this year or early next -- even a Money-hungry Mosley should have known to let Mayweather have his moment rather than engage in the sort of childish nonsense that used to be beneath him.

He's done enough post-fight chats and conducted enough business to know when it's his time and when it's not.

And simply, if Max Kellerman is half the journalist his persona thinks he is, the questions to Mayweather about a fight with Mosley -- and anyone else -- were coming.

Chances seemed good, in fact -- based on interplay HBO reported between the two men earlier in the evening -- that a query regarding Mosley would have been met with a positive response based on, if nothing else, professional courtesy.

Instead, after Mosley and Co.'s ill-timed interjection, an exasperated Kellerman clearly lost control of proceedings, unfairly chided Mayweather for the mess and threw it back to ringside where cooler -- though not necessarily more correct -- heads prevailed.

As a friend correctly wrote me Sunday morning, "Larry Merchant never lets that happen."

And after it all, I hope Floyd never gives Shane the time of day.

Because after a shutout win over Marquez, he really doesn't need to.

Whether spoil-sport Shane likes it or not, Pacquiao is the fight people want.

And assuming Manny is successful in handling Cotto this November, Pacquiao is the fight they'll probably get next spring after the requisite purse posturing and promotional bartering is complete.

Meanwhile, the me-first Mosley machine can keep rolling along.

The bookworms can proclaim lineal superiority with the win over Margarito.

The apologists can proclaim robbery in the decision against Cotto.

And anyone else who fancies "Sugar" can stomp feet and hold breath until wooziness.

He may be everyone's favorite leading man, but for the time being... he's a second banana at 147.

As for me... I've got to make sure my life insurance is all paid up.

Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 20-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a frequent contributor to Stone Cold Sports on the MVN Network (stonecoldsports.com) and several sports radio talk shows throughout the U.S. E-mail him at fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz.

Jabs, hooks or knockouts, Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at fitzbitz@msn.com.

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