LAS VEGAS // Floyd Mayweather Jr returned to the ring with an emphatic victory over Juan Manuel Marquez after 21 months in retirement. Maybe next time he'll pick on somebody his own size. Mayweather overpowered the smaller, lighter Marquez for an unanimous decision in the welterweight bout last night, maintaining his perfect record. Mayweather knocked down Marquez in the second round then peppered him with countless damaging shots to remain unbeaten in 40 professional fights, including 25 wins by knockout.
"Marquez is tough as nails," Mayweather said. "He's a great little man. He was really hard to fight, and he kept taking some unbelievable shots." Marquez (50-5-1) was 59kg just 18 months ago, but the Mexican champion moved up two weight classes to be Mayweather's hand-picked comeback opponent at the MGM Grand Garden. At Friday's weigh-in, he was 1.8kg lighter than Mayweather, who paid a US$600,000 penalty for missing the bout weight of 65kg. The size disparity was obvious from the opening bell, but Marquez stayed on his feet for 12 one-sided rounds. Mayweather landed 290 of his 493 blows (59 per cent) while allowing just 12 per cent of Marquez's 583 punches to land.
He often appeared to be toying with Marquez, who's generally considered among the world's top handful of fighters. Just 18 months ago, Marquez lost a narrow decision to Manny Pacquiao - who is likely Mayweather's top choice for his next bout. Mayweather was too heavy and too speedy for his undersized Mexican opponent in his first fight since stopping Ricky Hatton in December 2007. * AP