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Floyd Mayweather improved his record to 49-0 by defeating Andre Berto, 30-4, in an unanimous decision Saturday, Sept. 12 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The judges scored the fight 117-111, 118-110 and 120-108. As a result, Mayweather tied Rocky Marciano with the best undefeated record in boxing at 49-0, while also tying Joe Louis with his 26th successful title defense. While in the ring after the fight, the pound-for-pound champ announced again, making it final, that this was his last bout. “My career’s over. It’s official,” he calmly said.
The WBC and WBA Welterweight Championships were on the line along with the opportunity to make boxing history. The fight unfolded exactly as most analysts had been predicting. Fight reports show clearly that the champion used his defensive skills and flurries of punches to capture virtually every round. Berto was able to land a few punches but, for the most part, he was flailing away at air while Mayweather ducked and dodged the impact of his blows. On occasion Berto was able to force him to the ropes but he was not able to land many direct blows. In his last bout against Pacquiao, the challenger threw an amazing 429 punches, according to the fight stats, but only landed with 81 punches for a lowly 19 percent. One of the best of all time only landed 19 percent of his punches against the champion. That’s an incredible stat that Pacquiao could not overcome and one that was even more difficult for Berto.
Punch by punch analyses show the champ was aggressive when he needed to be and defensive when Berto tried to mount an offense. He fended off Berto’s wild swings on several occasions. In round three he tied Berto up several times when the challenger missed with his right. It seemed to be a planned tactic that worked well.
The champ dominated round four decisively but, as round five was underway, Berto slipped in an upper cut at the clinch and started roughing up Mayweather when they were in close. In that round the challenger landed a low blow that drew boos from the crowd. The champ seemed to let Berto follow him but did not allow the challenger to do much damage.
In round six it appeared that Berto was tiring from throwing so many blows that missed their target. The champ landed a two-punch combination that slowed Berto down considerably. The challenger landed a good late punch in the round but the champ probably won the round.
As the seventh got underway, a flush left from Berto stirred the crowd but the champ was able to answer with a pair of right punches that landed. In the eighth round the champ seemed to see the end of the fight and began to circle to the left avoiding any serious punches from his opponent. ESPN gave the round to the champ 39-6 and had him up 117-45 at that point on punches landed.
In the ninth the crowd began a chant of TBE, referring to the champ’s slogan “the best ever,” and Mayweather answered with a flurry of hard shots that landed. At this point, the champ, if not the best ever, was surely the best boxer in the ring. Again Berto was able to back him up to the ropes, trying to corner him, but could not land anything of consequence. Round 10 was a clinch fest perhaps, as one commentator put it, as the champ began to use defensive measures to help him coast to the end. The boxers were jawing at one another and the referee told them to cut the chatter. Berto appeared to be angry, perhaps frustrated, and was attacking without success.
The fight came to a slow end as it became clear that there would be no knockout in the fight. In fact, Mayweather had never knocked a fighter out in the late rounds. The last two rounds were more of the same with the champ landing occasionally and Berto chasing. As round 12 came to its last seconds, the champ began show-boating and the crowd reacted with more boos.
As the fight ended, the champ fell to his knees in celebration of a long fight and a longer career that apparently has come to an end.
On the other hand he may decide at some point that Mayweather defeating Berto may not be the best way to end his stellar career. One cannot help but wonder if he will begin to desire the record of 50-0, to pass Marciano and stand as the greatest of all, at least as far as the record goes. The champ said it was his last fight. The Brockton Bomber said the same thing and meant it. Perhaps it will always be a tie.
By Lloyd Gardner
CBS Sports: Live Blog Updates from Vegas
ESPN: Floyd Mayweather Earns Unanimous Decision Win over Andre Berto
LA Times: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs Andre Berto Live Updates
Photo courtesy of Bryan Horowitz’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License