Mayweather too Much for Marquez

After a 21 month layoff from the sport, one of boxing's biggest names (and mouths) made a triumphant return to the ring Saturday night in Las Vegas as Floyd "Money" Mayweather easily defeated Juan Manuel Marquez in a one-sided welterweight bout by unanimous decision.

Mayweather, who's last bout was a 10th round knockout of Ricky Hatton in December of 2007, showed no signs of ring rust, taking control of the fight early with a second round knock down of Marquez with left hook. Considered by many to be one of boxing's all-time best defensive fighters, Mayweather only allowed Marquez to land a microscopic 12 percent of his 583 punches thrown while the boxer formerly known as "Pretty Boy" landed 59 percent of his punches. Even with the embarrassing gap in punches landed and ferocious efforts in the 10th and 11th rounds, Mayweather was unable to knockout Marquez. The Mexican fighter was outmatched and unable to follow the direction of his trainer Nacho Beristain. Marquez did, however, "finish with dignity" as Nacho instructed him to do going into the fight's final round - definitely a moral victory for the outsized Marquez to go the distance.

The former "Dancing with the Stars" contestant improved his perfect record to 40-0 but the victory did not come without controversy. At Friday's weigh-in, Mayweather came in two pounds heavier than the agreed upon 144 pound weight. Rather than canceling the fight, Mayweather paid a $600,000 penalty ($300,000 for each pound over) to the smaller Marquez who fought at 130 pounds as recently as 18 months ago.

Numerous experts suggested that Mayweather hand-picked Marquez, an elite lightweight fighter who lacked size, as the perfect tune-up for an immensely anticipated Manny Pacquiao fight. Currently there is no Mayweather/Pacquiao fight scheduled (Pacman's next fight is against Miguel Cotto November 14th) and if Sugar Shane Mosely has anything to say about it, there won't be one anytime soon. In a moment that looked straight out of the WWE (ironically Mayweather was escorted to the ring by wrestler HHH), Sugar Shane sabotaged or Kanye'd the victor's post-fight interview to let the world know that he'd like a shot at Mayweather.

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Floyd Mayweather Jr. steps back after knocking down Juan Manuel Marquez, of Mexico, during their welterweight boxing match in Las Vegas, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch)
Mayweather's return was not the only comeback on display Saturday night. For the first time in nearly three decades boxing was back in movie theaters. Through Fathom Events, Mayweather/Marquez was shown on more than 170 screens across the country including the AMC Century City, where I watched the fight. A sold out auditorium reacting to each punch landed on the big screen in high definition made you feel like you were ringside at the fight in Las Vegas, without ever having to walk by guys handing out flyers for prostitutes.

Watching in the theater didn't always have that ringside feeling. The last undercard fight, a lackluster featherweight title bout won by WBA champion Chris John of Indonesia over Rocky Juarez of Houston, had the audience wishing they were sitting in any of the other 14 auditoriums even the one showing Sorority Row. Fortunately, a late rally from Juarez in the final minute of the fight injected some much needed energy into the theater moments before the main event.

Based on mixed reactions to each fighter's walk to the ring, it seemed as though the crowd was evenly split among Mayweather and Marquez supporters. However, when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who attended the fight, appeared on the big screen the reaction was far from mixed. Both times HBO's cameras caught the governor, he was met by shower of boos from the Century City crowd. Mike Tyson and Magic Johnson, on the other hand, each received roaring ovations when their faces flashed on the screen.

Despite the fight being dominated by the efficient Mayweather, ordinarily not the most entertaining of circumstances, I felt like my seat in the theater was definitely worth the $15 ticket. While our own sports editor Jimmy Bramlett was bored by the fight, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Maybe the movie theater enhanced the experience? Maybe it was the fact that I didn't drop $50 on Pay-Per-View? Maybe it's because I was intrigued by the Marquez drinks his own urine subplot? Or maybe it was just that Floyd's become more fun to watch. Either way, I hope that we'll have the chance to see more, both from Mayweather and boxing in the movie theaters.