Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Sunday, April 27, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Gripes began midway through the fight, around the time when Saul “Canelo” Alvarez let the aggravation of trying to hit Floyd Mayweather Jr. get to him.
As Alvarez winged wild punches that drifted closer to ringside photographers at MGM Grand Garden Arena than his adversary, the familiar vitriol sprouted.
Detractors decried that Mayweather never fights anyone, that the best boxer in the world’s choice of opponents diminishes his dominance. The dismissive attitude has dogged Mayweather’s career for several years and carried over the past seven months since he stemmed Alvarez with a wholly one-sided majority-decision win.
But instead of reaching for ways to discount Mayweather when he fights Marcos Maidana on May 3 at the MGM, critics should marvel at his mastery.
The 37-year-old Mayweather is 45-0 and on the type of run that few boxers have ever or will ever match. Watching him sling punches in the ring is like seeing Ted Williams swing lumber in the batter’s box or Jimi Hendrix shred a guitar onstage.
He’s that transcendent, that mesmerizing — that perfect.
Mayweather isn’t facing substandard competition; he’s making competition look substandard.
Alvarez was one of the most popular fighters in boxing, attracting a cavalcade of bets to beat Mayweather and stimulating enough interest to create the highest grossing pay-per-view of all time. He was 42-0-1 with 31 knockouts before facing Mayweather.
Maidana, similar to Alvarez, punches as hard as anyone at his weight and deserves this opportunity.
Mayweather could have gone the easier route. He could have fought Amir Khan, who defeated Maidana in 2010 but has lost two of four and unimpressively squeezed past mediocre Julio Diaz in his last fight.
He opted for the tougher challenge. Maidana had knocked out three straight opponents before stunning Adrien Broner, whom many had labeled “the next Mayweather,” in a unanimous-decision win in December.
The 12-to-1 betting line for Mayweather vs. Maidana has drawn ridicule, most notably from Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who has a long-running feud with Mayweather. But no one else in the world would command that high of a price against Maidana.
The misconceptions of Mayweather not competing against the best largely come from the repeated failure to book a bout against Manny Pacquiao. There’s blame to go around for preventing an event of that magnitude.
As much a menace as Mayweather has been to any negotiations, Pacquiao has taken no initiative himself. After defeating Timothy Bradley two weeks ago, Pacquiao and his team sounded more attentive to the idea of fighting Juan Manuel Marquez yet again than pushing for Mayweather.
It might take a fifth fight to figure out who’s better between Pacquiao and Marquez. When Mayweather and Marquez squared off, it took three minutes.
Mayweather knocked Marquez down in the second round and pummeled his way to an easy unanimous-decision win that never garnered the overwhelming amount of praise it deserved.
Mayweather brings some of the disapproval on himself. The details of his 2010 arrest and 2012 imprisonment for domestic violence are deeply disturbing. Although the antics of Mayweather’s “Money” persona are mostly harmless, a disregard for millions of dollars can understandably be translated as despicable in a time of economic unrest.
But when Mayweather enters the ring and presses into action, everything feels right. It’s a sight to behold that anyone with the most passing curiosity in sports should be able to appreciate.