Floyd Mayweather 46-0 (26) turned pro in October of 1996, almost 18 years ago.
And this past weekend former WBA welterweight title holder Marcos Maidana 35-4 (31) shocked the boxing world and gave him what was no doubt the second toughest fight, and perhaps maybe even the toughest fight, of his stellar career.
Mayweather's 12-round majority decision over Maidana is only the second time in 46 fights that Floyd has left the ring with some observers questioning whether or not he really won. The last time that happened was back in April of 2002, when Mayweather won a highly dubious unanimous decision over Jose Luis Castillo in their first bout for the WBC lightweight title. (For the record I had Castillo beating Mayweather 115-111).
This past weekend I had Mayweather beating Maidana 115-113.
For years we've heard how the way to beat Mayweather is to rough him up and make the boxing match a street fight. But most of his opponents who tried to do that were discouraged and defeated mentally, then physically, by the end of the fourth round.
Marcos stayed true to his word and really didn't give a damn about Mayweather or his reputation. For the first eight rounds Maidana threw the kitchen sink at Mayweather and Floyd was clearly rattled and confused by his wild punches and un-conventional aggression. So much so that Mayweather was making faces and gestures at the referee as to say 'can you calm this guy down?'
Mayweather began to seize the fight in the ninth round and fully imposed his will on Maidana, sweeping three, perhaps all four of the last rounds to pull out the fight. Once Maidana began to slow a little, starting around the seventh round, Mayweather was better able to keep him at center ring and blunt his aggression with left hooks to the body and right hands to the head. With Maidana slowed a bit, Mayweather's hand speed dictated his offense and his superior defense prevented Maidana from landing that one fight-altering punch he needed to in order to take back control of the fight.
After the fight Mayweather said, “It was a tough, competitive fight. I normally like to go out there and box and move. But he put pressure on me. I wanted to give the fans what they wanted to see so I stood and fought him.”
Don't you believe it.
For years I've highlighted how at the end of the day physicality trumps strategy and no fighter does what he doesn't want to, unless he has to, including Floyd Mayweather.
And for the first eight rounds of the bout Mayweather was forced to fight it out with Maidana because he had no choice – Maidana made the decision for him. However, because Maidana threw so many punches at Mayweather in order to disrupt him and make Floyd fight him off, it ultimately took its toll on Marcos physically and he couldn't sustain his aggression.
Once Maidana's unrelenting aggression ceased and started coming in spurts, Mayweather's life got a lot easier.
Before the fight, I said that in order for Maidana to pull off the upset, he needed to possess a big-enough punch to make Mayweather uncomfortable and do things he didn't want to do…..and he'd also have to have the means to deliver it. And for eight rounds he did. The problem was that starting in round nine Mayweather still had a few gears left to continue going, whereas Maidana basically topped out and didn't have overdrive.
Mayweather's best round of the fight was the ninth. He hit a slowed-down Maidana with some tremendous hooks to the body, which in turn kept Maidana from pressing and bulling him against the ropes and working him over. With Maidana slowed and now thinking and plotting instead of attacking, he became a sitting duck for Mayweather's best offensive weaponry. Had Maidana owned just a little more punch and physical strength, he very well might have won the fight. But the reality turned out to be that Maidana only had enough punch and strength to bother Mayweather for a while. And imposing it on Floyd took a lot out of him and that's why Mayweather pulled away during the last third of the bout. As gifted as Mayweather is, he really couldn't box and pick his spots until Maidana got tired and slowed by the fast pace of the fight.
Maidana and trainer Robert Garcia had a terrific fight plan. They both did a great job preparing for the fight. As skilled as Mayweather is, he couldn't really get the upper hand in the fight until Maidana wound down some. The problem for Maidana was fighting at 100 mph took a lot more out of him than it did Mayweather due to Floyd's underrated upper-body strength.
It wasn't until the ninth round that Mayweather's pronounced skill advantage became the dominating force in the fight. Once Mayweather had Maidana to the point to where he could control him, it was downhill from there.
What really stood out about the fight was it usually only takes Mayweather two or three rounds to dictate the terms of the bout against most opponents, not eight.
There's talk of a rematch and I hope it happens because Maidana deserves the pay day. As for the outcome, I think Mayweather will win and endure less physical abuse and punishment the next time if they fight. And the reason for that is, I don't think Maidana can be any better than he was this past Saturday night. It's not like he can do anything different stylistically. Basically, he'll have to go after Mayweather again like a wounded animal and we saw that can only take him so far and won't quite get it done. Sure, Marcos may have more confidence and Floyd will be a few months older but, we now know that Maidana cannot sustain the needed pressure to overwhelm Mayweather.
In addition to that we also know that Marcos doesn't posses enough of a punch to really get Mayweather off his game to the point where he can seize the fight. Floyd was never really shook or in trouble once in 12-rounds.
“If I had my gloves I would have knocked him out,” Maidana said. That may be the case, but it's doubtful that the so-called “punchers gloves” that Maidana wants to wear would make that much of a difference. At least I don't believe so.
Mayweather has shown in past bouts against Jose Luis Castillo, Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto that he takes a really good punch. If Maidana can't hurt him enough to where he can push him off the cliff, he can't beat him.
Based on the 12-rounds they just fought, it doesn't look like that would be the case in a rematch. History had shown that when the “boxer” beats the “fighter/attacker” in the first meeting, the rematch is usually a rerun of the first encounter.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com