Maidana Pays Mayweather Homage In Code Language
Recently, Marcos Maidana, who will fight a rematch against Floyd Mayweather on September 13th, spoke about their first fight.
Maidana's thoughts on Mayweather were quite telling. However, some of what he said was stated in code language and seems to have slipped past more than a few interested observers. Fighters usually do not outright give their opponents big props, especially if they know they'll be seeing them again in the ring. But Maidana was very candid with his words about Mayweather and in doing so revealed a few things about Floyd the fighter that often go unmentioned.
I remember after Jerry Quarry lost to Muhammad Ali in Ali's comeback bout, he was asked who he'd favor if Ali and Joe Frazier fought. Jerry said without hesitation, "I gotta go with Joe." Quarry at the time seemed like the perfect one to have the inside track on who would win the "Fight Of The Century" between Muhammad and Joe, since he recently fought both. In June of 1969 Quarry was stopped in seven rounds by Frazier due to facial and eye cuts - and in October of 1970, Jerry was stopped in three rounds by Ali due to a terrible eye gash. Yet it's funny that after Quarry lost to Frazier, he was asked who would win the upcoming unification bout between Joe and WBA title-holder Jimmy Ellis. In 1968 Ellis won an underwhelming 15 round decision over Quarry for the vacant title and then a little over a year later lost to Frazier. In regards to who would win the Frazier-Ellis clash, Quarry said, "I don't know, that's gonna be a good one!"
Isn't it interesting that Quarry, who went the distance with Ellis, was unsure if Frazier could beat Jimmy? On the other hand, after fighting Ellis evenly and not really competing with Ali, Jerry was certain that Ali couldn't handle Frazier. It's obvious that Quarry, who actually had a good relationship with both Muhammad and Joe, was pulling for Frazier to win. Perhaps he saw more of himself in Frazier as a fighter and man than he did Ali. Who knows? What we do know is fighters aren't always honest when discussing their peers.
That's why I was taken by what Maidana said about Mayweather regarding their fight.
The first thing Maidana said that I thought was very transparent, along with a little bit of code language, was, "I was able to pin him to the ropes and land punches, so he's not as difficult or as invincible as people think. He's hittable. You can land on him. I made mistakes. I was a little too anxious. He never hurt me, but he's got a respectable punch. You've got to respect him."
Aw yes, "He never hurt me, but he's got a respectable punch. You've got to respect him." Translation: He hurt me and there was a price to pay for just trying to walk through him and trying to pin him against the ropes. Yes, Mayweather can punch a bit. No, he's not Thomas Hearns or even Sugar Ray Leonard. But he hits plenty hard enough to disrupt and blunt his opponent’s aggression. When I hear it said that Mayweather or Bernard Hopkins can't punch, the first thing that comes to my mind is "those saying that simply don't have experience touching hands with world class fighters."
It was said during the careers of Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes, two of the five greatest heavyweights in history, that they couldn't punch. Yet they both tamed a lot of bruisers and bad-arses who could really punch and were certified life-takers. Just because a fighter isn't a one-punch destroyer doesn't mean he can't punch. Mayweather punches plenty hard enough to steer his opponents where he wants them to go. He may not do a lot of damage outwardly, but he hits hard enough to gain their respect, which in turn makes them less likely to try and take their liberties with him...at least that's the message Marcos Maidana has sent regarding Mayweather's power and punch.
There was another telling quote from Maidana that indicates something else about Mayweather physically that's been stated in this space for the past four or five years.
"Yes. I did [tire in the second half of the fight with Mayweather]," he admitted. "I came out strong the first six or seven rounds, and after that I had to take a break and catch my breath a little bit. I had to pace myself. I have to not get as anxious for this fight."
Maidana admitting he tired in the second half of the fight is another layer of proof that Mayweather is physically stronger than his opponents assume before they get in the ring with him. For the first seven or eight rounds of the fight, Marcos was able to really go at Floyd almost full throttle. And while he was capable of doing that, he was in the fight and maybe even was up a point or two after eight rounds. However, the physical strain of Maidana trying to navigate past Mayweather's incoming punches and the toll those shots took on him are what really wore him down.
Sure, he was over-anxious. But that was only in the early going. By the third or fourth round he was settled into the quick pace and tempo of the fight. The fact is, trying to move Mayweather around the ring and pin him against the ropes or in a corner sapped a lot of Maidana's strength/stamina and by the middle of the eighth round he had to come up for some air. Once he had to step off the gas a little and pace himself, Mayweather was better able to time and pot-shot him more freely and accurately. Without being under the gun, Floyd was better able to control the fight and won it by sweeping most of the later rounds.
We knew going in that Mayweather was the superior technician. But as long as Maidana could run full throttle with Mayweather the fight was up for grabs. The problem for Maidana was, he was drained physically by trying to overwhelm Mayweather during the first two thirds of the bout. Had he been able to bring it full tilt for 12 rounds, who knows who would've come out on top. But he couldn't and he basically admitted that in code language.
In the main, Marcos admitted that Floyd is stronger physically than he looks and that prevented him from mauling Mayweather the way he had envisioned that he could...and he submitted that Floyd punches pretty hard and I just can't come in face first as if he's handcuffed.
So what's going to change in the rematch? Nothing. Maidana will worry about his stamina and wind, and that will give Mayweather more time and space to do what he always does. Mayweather wins a comfortable decision in a less thrilling fight, controlling the action most of the way.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com