Sunday, May 2, 2010 | 2:27 a.m.
Regardless of what anyone’s personal feelings are about Floyd Mayweather Jr., there is an undeniable fact the fighter has proven beyond any doubt — he has figured out the sport of boxing.
Every nook, every cranny where a potential advantage in boxing might lay hidden, Mayweather finds it and exploits it.
That much was clear again Saturday night, when he defeated Shane Mosley by unanimous decision at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mayweather’s professional record now consists of 41 wins and zero losses over the course of more than 13 years.
Following the dominant performance, former world champion Oscar De La Hoya said there is no longer any doubt in his mind who the best fighter in the world is.
“Tonight, we just witnessed the best fighter on the planet,” De La Hoya said. “I have to say the truth. He convinced me tonight that he is the best — possibly of all time.
“He has the skills to beat anybody. He has the talent. He has the work ethic. There’s no doubt about it. Mayweather, in my mind, is the best.”
Sometimes it’s easy to attribute Mayweather’s greatness to a few simple factors and be done with it. His natural athletic ability. His family’s background in boxing. Luck.
But the truth is, all of Mayweather’s success can be traced back to the little things he does so much better than any other fighter in the world today.
Much of Mayweather’s pre-fight "trash-talk" is written off as commercial appeal — hype to drive ticket sales.
As De La Hoya mentioned this weekend, however, Mayweather is a genius at defeating his opponents mentally before defeating them physically.
After Mosley had made his entrance to the ring Saturday, Mayweather remained in his locker room longer than anyone expected just to force his opponent to stand and wait as long as possible.
“I’m going to be honest with you, I’ve always got a trick up my sleeve. I’ve always got a game plan,” Mayweather said. “Truth is, I think Shane is a little older. He’s 38. I figured, ‘I’ll make him wait out there for me.’ Show my video. I’ll just hang out in the locker room and relax. Let him get cold.”
There were hints of Mosley being mentally beaten in the eighth round, when he dropped his hands while verbally bickering with Mayweather after the two had been holding onto one another.
Mayweather suddenly stopped and landed a quick right hook under Mosley’s unsuspecting chin.
In the moment, it may have looked like a random mistake by Mosley. However, for a veteran fighter to drop his hands like that, it shows how frustrated Mayweather had made him.
“I had told him throughout the fight, ‘Your jab ain’t faster than mine. If it is, let me see it,’” Mayweather said.
Of course, a fighter could have never made it as far as Mayweather has without natural boxing skill, and he certainly has plenty of that.
But Mayweather has never sat back and relied on his natural abilities alone. He’s dedicated the time it takes to become the best and his camp comes into every fight with an intelligent game plan.
Using a game plan developed by his uncle and trainer, Roger, Mayweather slipped punches and countered effectively all night long. He ended up winning every round of the fight except one, against one of the top welterweights in the world.
“I told Floyd to keep it simple,” Roger said. “Keep him in the middle of the ring and you’re going to box his ears off. And what you seen tonight is just what I said. He boxed his ears off and the fight wasn’t even close. That’s it.”
The only moment of the fight in which Mayweather faced any type of adversity came in the second round, when Mosley caught him with a straight right and then a hook that buckled his knees and brought the crowd to its feet.
Mayweather’s response to the danger couldn’t have been better. He remained calm, covered up and went on to dominate every remaining minute of the fight.
“I think he tried,” said Mayweather, when asked why Mosley didn’t look to finish him when he was in trouble. “But it’s just me being able to show my versatility and adapt. I was able to adjust my game plan and work to break him down.”
Despite the enormity of his competitive success, Mayweather’s accomplishments financially in the sport of boxing might be even more impressive.
His 2007 fight against Oscar De La Hoya already holds the record for pay-per-view buys at 2.4 million, and according to Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schafer, Saturday’s fight could prove to be second on the all-time list.
The fight also drew a live crowd of 15,170 and a gate of more than $11 million.
“The early indication could be very well that Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather is going to hold not only the record for biggest pay-per-view event ever, but the record for the second biggest pay-per-view as well,” Schafer said.
“I think today was an extremely important day for Floyd Mayweather. Look at how he overcame the second round. That is what a great champion is all about.”
After submitting his urine test to the Nevada State Athletic Commission and changing into a vest and tie, Mayweather spent more than 30 minutes on the microphone at the post-fight press conference.
He answered all the questions directed to him, referring to many of the reporters in the room by their first name.
It was just the final example of Mayweather knowing what to do and how to act to maximize the levels of his success.
In one of his final statements of the night, he referenced to something he had said before the Mosley fight — that he believed he had reached a point where he could call himself the best boxer of all time.
There were many who disagreed with Mayweather when they read that statement before Saturday. But if the fighter continues his perfect navigation through the sport, it would be a hard one to argue with.
“When you say you’re the best, you have to perform,” Mayweather said. “You have to keep striving and that’s what I did.”
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].