Floyd Mayweather Jr. was the dominant ring figure Saturday night on Showtime’s boxing card from Detroit, an event that featured one of Mayweather’s young disciples, Ishe Smith, dethroning IBF junior middleweight champion Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage.
For Robert Guerrero, Showtime’s card Saturday, with its frequent shots of Mayweather in his fighters’ corners, was effective promotion for Guerrero’s May 4 confrontation with Mayweather in Las Vegas. But it was far from the only unaccustomed hype to benefit Guerrero since the Mayweather fight was formalized Tuesday.
The San Jose Mercury News, the biggest daily near Guerrero’s home in Gilroy, managed to find places for further news about the bout twice after Wednesday’s main story about the contracts.
Apparently the Merc and its Bay Area News Group (BANG) brethren felt they had undersold the magnitude of Mayweather’s 30-month deal with Showtime that could lead to six fights and about a quarter-billion dollars. It’s being billed as the largest single such deal for an individual in any sport. That fetched a Sports Digest item in Friday’s editions.
Guerrero held a teleconference Thursday, and I came away with notes I’ll scatter through these posts throughout the fight buildup. The Merc didn’t have anything on Guerrero’s teleconference Friday, but it rated a headline Saturday concerning Guerrero’s reasons for not deeming Mayweather the top pound-for-pound boxer anymore (although he is recognized as such by The Ring, and just about everybody else including me).
Strategically, it doesn’t seem wise for Guerrero to cast this bout as anything less than him against Number One, but the publicity obviously became greater when Guerrero bucked conventional wisdom. The blogosphere can be mighty effective, but newspapers and big-city radio-TV are still a better way to reach sports fans
Mayweather, by the way, appears to have lost a lot of vitality in the months since his victory over Miguel Cotto last Cinco de Mayo. He can’t afford to come off more than a year older than he did in the Cotto fight against Guerrero, because if Guerrero proves to be quicker than Mayweather, 36, there will be an upset.
But then, it would have been hard for Mayweather to match the ebullience of the Showtime telecast Saturday. Analyst Al Bernstein, with his measured effectiveness, fades into the woodwork alongside hyper-enthusiastic blow-by-blow announcer Mauro Ranallo, who is an icon in the MMA version of his profession but makes his boxing predecessor Screamin’ Gus Johnson seem like Vin Scully in comparison.
Still, Mayweather seemed palpably anxious last year at this time, and now, with a 60-day prison term in his recent past, he appears much the worse for wear.
Thus, the buildup to Guerrero’s big opportunity does bear a lot of watching.