THE ANSWER MAN ON MAYWEATHER, AN EMBARRASING NBA MVP VOTER, ETC.
Question: Were you surprised at how easily world welterweight Floyd Mayweather Jr. handled challenger Robert Guerrero (a lopsided unanimous decision to boost his record to 44-0) Saturday night in Las Vega)?
Answer: Of course not. At age 36, Mayweather still is king of the ring.
“Money” also is boxing’s sharpest promoter – of himself. He handpicks opponents and determines the purse distribution. He has for a long time.
Mayweather hadn’t fought in a year but he totally outclassed his younger opponent. He piled up points (the three judges scored the fight 117-110) and opened up a nasty cut above Guerrero’s left eye in the eighth round.
After the victory, Mayweather said he plans to retire after the five fights left on his contract with Showtime. He made a guaranteed $32 million against Guerrero (could top $40 million with pay-per-view sales) and isn’t likely to accept anything less hereafter.
I believe Mayweather deserves consideration for Male Athlete of the Year one these years. It’s impossible to be better than perfect. Of course, he’d have a better case if he fought more often and took on better competition. But it isn’t easy finding opponents capable of making a great fight. He’s too good.
What’s next? Look for Mayweather to next fight in December or early next year. He hurt his right hand in the Guerrero fight. That’s a good excuse to enjoy another long layoff.
When “Money” returns, he figures to take on another outclassed opponent. The Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fervor has cooled off.
That phantom scenario no longer is a huge deal or the fight most of the remaining boxing fans most want to see.
The next dream fight for Mayweather may be against 22-year-old sensation Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (42-0-1, 31 KOs). He’s loaded with skill and charisma.
It could be Mayweather’s grand finale and he’ll do everything he can to make it the all-time highest grossing pay-per-view .
Question: Did LeBron James deserve to be this season’s unanimous NBA Most Valuable Player?
Answer: Certainly. The only people who can stop James this season are few lame voters for league awards (Defensive Player of the Year and MVP).
James received 120 of 121 first-place votes in the MVP balloting. One ridiculous voter opted for Carmelo Anthony. In a column Monday morning, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe took the credit – or accepted the blame – for picking Anthony over James. I give him points for stepping up. He didn’t have to. The NBA votes are anonymous and the voters aren’t required to supply explanations.
Washburn stood up to face the music. His pro-Carmelo reasoning was extremely weak, but he at least tried.
Before Washburn’s disclosure, Dan Le Batard of Miami cleverly took advantage of the situation to admit he was the lone voter who picked Anthony over James. He immediately received nationwide attention.
That had to boost interest on his really awful afternoon show on ESPN.
If you’ve never seen it, consider yourself fortunate.
Le Batard’s hoax was blown up when people who should know hit the social network to reveal that Le Bartard did not have a vote for MVP.
James had one of the all-time great all-around seasons. Nobody was close.
Here’s how James and Anthony measured up this season:
Points per game – Melo 28.7...LeBron 26.8
Games played – LeBron 76...Melo 67
Minutes per game – LeBron 37.9...Melo 37.0
Field-goal percentage – LeBron .565...Melo .449
3-point field-goal percentage – LeBron .406...Melo .379
Free-throw percentage – Melo .830...LeBron .753
Rebounds per game – LeBron 8.0...Melo 6.9
Assists per game – LeBron 7.3...Melo 2.6
Blocks per game – LeBron 0.9...Melo 0.5
Steals per game – LeBron 1.7...Melo 0.8.
James clearly was a better all-around offensive player than Anthony this season.
LeBron also was vastly better than Anthony on defense. I think James deserved to be voted Outstanding Defensive Player hands down (he finished second to Marc Gasol). James is assigned to guard the best player on Miami’s opponent nearly every game.
Another clue that Washburn was off base in depriving James of the NBA’s first unanimous MVP distinction: Kevin Durant received 93 of the 121 No. 2 votes for MVP. That means those voters rated Durant above Anthony for MVP.
Question: Should rookie quarterback EJ Manuel start this season for the Buffalo Bills?
Answer: Why not? Most analysts think he isn’t ready to start. If the Bills were a genuine playoff contender, I’d agree. But they probably won’t be, so what’s to lose by giving Manuel on-the-job training as quickly as possible.
Question: Should Ron Rolston coach the Buffalo Sabres next season.
Answer: He deserves to. But that doesn’t mean he will.
It will be general manager Darcy Regier’s call. That should be a plus for Rolston. A new GM would’ve been inclined to select his own man as coach.
Rolston was Regier’s choice when Lindy Ruff was fired Feb. 20. The Sabres were 6-10-1 (13 of 34 possible points in the standings) under Ruff and 15-11-5 (35 of 62 points in the standings) under Rolston.
Buffalo missed the playoffs but played honest hockey to the bitter end. The majority of Buffalo’s fans and media seemed to appreciate the job Rolston did in difficult circumstances.
Another plus for Rolston is Regier’s mandate to embark on a full-scale rebuilding program. Rolston is a very good teacher, particularly of younger players. His credits include head coach of the U.S. National Team Development Program from 2004 through 2011.
All things considered – Rolston’s amateur background and proven success in Rochester and Buffalo as a pro coach -- I don’t know how Regier could fire him and provide a reasonable explanation.
KEEPING TABS ON THE FORT MYERS MIRACLE AND MIGUEL SANO
The Fort Myers Miracle, Minnesota’s affiliate in the Single-A Advanced Florida State League (two rungs below the Rochester Red Wings), lost Saturday and Sunday to drop to 23-6 this season.
Third baseman Miguel Sano, the team’s 20-year-old power-hitting prospect, hit his 10th home run of the season on Sunday. Through 29 games, he leads the league in batting average (.385...42x109), runs (25), HRs (10). RBI (30), total bases (83) and slugging percentage (.761).
The Twins must be wondering what to do with Sano. He’s obviously too good for the Florida State League, but is he ready for Double-A New Britain (Eastern League)? The longer he hits like this, the more likely the first sighting of Sano at Frontier Field could be sometime next season.
HICKS MIGHT NEED ROCHESTER...AND THE RED WINGS COULD USE HIM
Center fielder Aaron Hicks, who was ticketed to start this season in Rochester but earned a starting job in center field with Minnesota on the strength of a hot spring, continues to struggle in his big-league debut. He was 0-x4 with 2 strikeouts in Sunday’s 4-2 win over Cleveland.
Hicks is hitting .118 (10x85), with 12 runs, 1 double, 1 triple, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 13 walks, 31 strikeouts and 3x4 stolen bases. He has fielded well but how much longer can Minnesota (a respectable 13-14 record entering Monday) play him regularly?
QUARTERBACKS TO WATCH IN THE 2014 NFL DRAFT
Some of us wonder why the Buffalo Bills were so eager to attempt to solve their “franchise quarterback” situation in a draft with so few really promising QBs.
ESPN.com’s Brock Huard last week offered his “top five QB prospects for the 2014 NFL draft”: Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville)...Tajh Boyd (Clemson)...Aaron Murray (Georgia)...Marcus Mariota (Oregon)...Braxton Miller (Ohio State)...Five more to watch: AJ McCarron (Alabama)...Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)...Stephen Morris (Miami)...Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech)...Derek Carr (Fresno State).
The Bills figure to have a very high first-round pick again in the 2014 draft. It will be interesting to find out how many – if any -- QBs in next year’s rookie class will be better prospects than EJ Manuel was this year.
WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO WINS AGAIN...YAWN
The Klitschko brothers appear destined to go down in boxing history as the most underrated, least-appreciated heavyweight champions – mainly because they refuse to fight each other.
Wladimir Klitschko boosted his record to 60-3 (52 KOs) with a sixth-round KO of previously undefeated Francesco Pianeta (now 28-8-1) Saturday in Germany. As always, older brother Vitali was in his corner. Together they hold every legitimate heavyweight title.
Wladimir is expected to next fight Alexander Povetkin of Russia.
Povetkin is the mandatory challenger. He holds the WBA title only because Wladimir has been handed the WBA “super champion” tag.
Wladimir vs. Vitali in a unification bout would be a very big deal. It isn’t going to happen. They promised their mother they’d never fight each other.
This would be a great time for a young, charismatic American heavyweight challenger to emerge. Unfortunately, there isn’t one in sight.
Where is Mike Tyson when you need him? Tyson in his prime might have defeated Vitali and Wladimir on consecutive Saturday nights. Sadly, we’ll never know.
Oklahoma City Thunder without injured Russell Westbrook: Can’t possibly beat San Antonio or Miami. Had Westbrook missed the regular season, teammate Kevin Durant would’ve easily won the NBA scoring title.
P.J. Carlesimo got a raw deal with the Brooklyn Nets. He was 35-19 as interim coach after replacing the fired Avery Johnson but was doomed when the Nets were beaten by the injury- and illness-depleted Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs...I believe the Nets are a flawed team. They have too many slow big men...Phil Jackson or Jeff Van Gundy probably could take the Nets deep into the playoffs with one or two roster moves. How about Dwight Howard?
I’m ready to run up the white flag on my picks as the American League’s two best teams: Toronto Blue Jays and California Angels.
Toronto’s starting pitcher has underachieved and injured shortstop Jose Reyes has been hurt...The Angels really miss departed Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols has been playing hurt.
Orb easily won last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. Trainer Shug McGauhey says Orb will run in the Preakness May 18 and in the Belmont Stakes June 8. The last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978. Orb’s impressive performance in the Derby has scared off the connections of most of the horses in the Derby. Golden Soul (2nd), Revolutionary (3rd) and Normandy Invasion (4th) already are out of the Preakness Stakes. Golden Soul and Revolutionary are being rested for the Belmont Stakes.
Normandy Invasion will be primed for the Travers Stakes in Saratoga this summer. There don’t seem to be any super horses that skipped the Derby and figure to sneak up on Orb in two weeks in Baltimore.