Floyd Mayweather turns 40, celebrates with fight fans on Showtime

It wouldn't be right for the man called TBE (The Best Ever) to celebrate a milestone birthday without a few of his friends enjoying some boxing action and plenty of attention.

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Justin DeLoach (right) made quick work of a lackluster Chris Pearson, scoring a second round knockout. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime

TEMECULA, California, February 24, 2017 – While you wear yourself out over the latest rumors concerning Floyd Mayweather’s return to the ring, there are no alternative facts involved over Floyd Mayweather the boxing promoter.

Mayweather brought several of his top prospects to Southern California’s Pechanga Casino to help him celebrate his 40th birthday on Friday. If he couldn’t celebrate in the ring himself, Mayweather did the next best thing under his banner. No worries, Floyd got plenty of love on camera and from the fans in attendance, who lined up to get selfies with him.

Floyd Mayweather never does anything in less than grand style, including celebrating his 40th birthday on Friday. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime

But he didn’t get quite as much love in the ring.

In the main event battle of junior middleweight prospects, Justin DeLoach of Augusta, Georgia (17-1, 9 KOs) came out blazing, stopping Chris Pearson of Dayton, Ohio (17-2, 11 KOs) at 2:30 of the second round. DeLoach dropped Pearson twice, the second time for good with a blistering right hand. Pearson looked like a deer in the headlights for most of the brief fight. DeLoach now holds the minor USBA junior middleweight title.


“I feel great. I am emotional right now. I come from a small city and my mom is here and she’s in tears. Seeing my mom and my family here. I am just proud,” said an elated DeLoach.

Justin DeLoach thrilled the Temecula crowd with a spectacular knockout win. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime

“I’m not surprised that it happened so quickly,” said DeLoach. “We had a strategy and we stuck to it. Hard work pays off and that was proof. I didn’t think I was an underdog, but I understand the whole thing of psychological warfare. I always go into the ring like I am on top no matter what.

DeLoach says he plans to watch the much anticipate bout between Tony Harrison and Jarrett Hurd Saturday, saying he’d like to fight the winner. Give him credit for ambition.

Pearson admitted he felt lackluster Friday night. “He (Pearson) came out, he was explosive, he was busy. He didn’t do anything I didn’t expect.

“Things happened the way they did, you gotta take the good with the bad … He fought like I thought he would, he did what he had to do. His performance didn’t surprise me.”

The 154-pound division is packed with talent and only the strong will survive. Pearson needs to regroup and assess his prospects after a disappointing performance.

Saul Rodriguez (right) escaped a tough battle with Oscar Bravo, winning a split decision. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime

Hometown favorite Saul Rodriguez of Riverside, California, came out to the roars of his fans after a nine-month layoff for his lightweight bout against Oscar Bravo of Chile. It was Pearson’s first fight under the Mayweather Promotions banner. It was supposed to be Pearson’s coming out party, but Bravo didn’t come to California just to collect a paycheck.

Rodriguez (21-0-1, 15 KOs) barely survived a ten round firefight with Bravo (23-7, 11 KOs) to leave with a split decision victory. Tony Krebs scored it 95-94 for Bravo; Carla Caiz scored it 95-94 and Jerry Cantu scored it 97-92 for Rodriguez. The Cantu score left observers dumbfounded. Was it a birthday present for Floyd?

Oscar Bravo of Chile (right) was the consensus winner of the ringside media, but lost a split decision. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime

Rodriguez started out strong and won the first few rounds. But Bravo began to figure Rodriguez out and lay some traps. Bravo rocked Rodriguez into the ropes with a wicked straight right halfway through the fifth round. Rodriguez popped up, wobbling on unsteady legs. Rodriguez gathered his composure and finished the round surprisingly strong as both men traded shots.

Round 6 started right whether the previous round left off, and for the rest of the bout the firefight was on. Rodriguez was landing shots but the snap was slowly wearing off. Bravo would catch Rodriguez with upper cuts and do damage at close range.

No one would have been unhappy with a draw, and it was a close fight. The knockdown should have tipped the scorecards to Bravo, but the script was written. Bravo was damned by high expectations. Rodriguez should learn a lot from his experience and next time let’s hope he earns a more definitive result.

American cruiserweight Andrew Tabiti took an important step toward fighting the bigger names in his division with a victory Friday. Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime

In the opening televised bout, cruiserweight Andrew Tabiti of Las Vegas remained undefeated (14-0, 12 KOs) with a solid TKO in Round 6 over Quantis Graves of Beaumont, Texas (11-1-2, 4 KOs). It was Graves’ first defeat. Graves never looked comfortable. He hasn’t had many bouts at age 33; he turned professional at the late age of 25.

Tabiti began to do serious damage with right hooks and body shots in Round 4. It seemed referee Ray Corona would stop the fight but Graves made it out of the round, and stood up to several more shot in Round 5. Tabiti delivered a solid left hook body shot that dropped Graves near the end of the sixth round. He got to his feet and finished the round, but Graves’ corner wisely called off the fight.

“As soon as I got in the ring, I knew it was game over for him,” said Tabiti. “Figuring out his game plan was easy money. The only thing I feel I could have done better was get him out of the fight quicker. He was talking a lot before the fight, but I didn’t let that get in my head I just came out and did what I was supposed to do.

Tabiti was pleased with his performance overall. There’s definitely things I could tune up on. I wouldn’t grade myself as an A plus, but I know what I gotta fix in my next fight and the only thing I can do at this point is get back in the gym with my team and continue getting ahead in my division.”

The veteran Graves said Tabiti was the fastest cruiseweight he’d ever faced. “I’ve been boxing for 19 years and I’ve never fought anyone as fast as him. I have no excuses. It is okay. I have never fought on SHOWTIME before and I failed, but I will get back in the gym.”

At age 27, Tabiti is making a case for himself as the top American cruiserweight in a newly energized division top heavy with Eastern European talent. How about a fight with fellow Las Vegas resident Beibut Shumanov in the near future?

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

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