Floyd Mayweather outclasses Juan Manuel Marquez on return to ring in Las Vegas

Floyd Mayweather Jr celebrated his return to the ring after a 21-month retirement with a unanimous points victory over Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez in a non-title welterweight bout in Las Vegas.

Widely regarded as the best defensive fighter of his generation, the American dominated all 12 rounds against his smaller opponent with his left jab and agile movement to improve his career record to 40-0 with 25 knockouts.

Mayweather, who held a significant weight and reach advantage over five-times world champion Marquez, was a heavy favourite going into the bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and knocked down Marquez in the second round.

The 32-year-old showed no sign of rust after his lengthy stint away and controlled the pace of the fight with his lightning hand and foot speed, rock-solid defence and a series of telling combinations. Mayweather gained one-sided verdicts from all three judges - by 118-109, 120-107 and 119-108.
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"I've been off for almost two years but it felt really good to be back," Mayweather said. "I was happy with the victory but I know can get better."

The flamboyant Mayweather was back in the ring for the first time since his 10th round stoppage of Britain's Ricky Hatton at the same venue in December 2007.

"That guy is tough as nails," Mayweather added. "He was a great little big man. I threw a hell of a shot that dropped him, and then he got back up and kept fighting. He's a tough guy."

The 36-year-old Marquez had never fought above 135 pounds and moved up two weight classes to challenge the American.

"It was a very hard fight," Marquez said. "He surprised me with the knockdown. He hurt me in that round but not at any other time. I don't want to make excuses but the weight was the problem. He's too fast. When I hit him he laughed but I knew he felt my punches. I did the best I could do."

Mayweather has been criticised in the past for avoiding some dangerous opponents and he was loudly booed by a majority of the 13,000-strong crowd as he made his way to the ring in the wake of the hugely popular Marquez.

"I'm never going to win," Mayweather said afterwards. "When am I going to get my just due and people just acknowledge that Floyd Mayweather is a great fighter?"

Watched by a crowd of 13,000 that included Magic Johnson, the basketball great, and boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins, Mayweather belied his lengthy absence from the ring by making a strong start.

He landed a couple of left jabs early on, drawing blood on his opponent's forehead before Marquez ended a fast-paced opening round by pinning the American against the ropes.

Although Marquez forced Mayweather to back-peddle in the early exchanges in round two, the confident American put the Mexican on the canvas with a stinging left hook.

Mayweather, moving nimbly and frequently leaning back to avoid head punches by Marquez, took advantage of his longer reach to dominate the next three rounds.

And whenever he appeared to land a combination, Mayweather simply backed away with a grin, repeatedly landed telling left jabs to remain in overall control.

Mayweather ended the 11th round by landing a crunching right hook and maintained control until the final bell sounded to end the 12th.


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