Saturday night saw unbeaten pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather extend his unbeaten record to 46-0 with a majority decision victory over Argentina’s Marcos Maidana. In the build up to the fight, most people expected a comfortable victory for Mayweather and while he once again delivered the win, it was far from comfortable.
This was the only fight since his first meeting with Jose Luis Castillo, 12 years ago, that an opponent has given Mayweather this much trouble. From the opening bell, Maidana delivered exactly what we had expected from him. He was aggressive, rough and not afraid to bend or break the rules. He looked to throw as many punches as possible and to trap Mayweather in corners or against the ropes. What was unexpected however, was how poorly Mayweather dealt with tactics he had faced many times before.
From the opening round Mayweather seemed lethargic, content to stay on the ropes when pushed back. Although he was blocking most of Maidana’s punches, hanging on the ropes allowed Maidana, through sheer volume of punching, to win rounds. In the fourth round, a clash of heads opened a cut over Mayweather’s right eye. As a defensive genius, Mayweather is not used to being cut. He was clearly upset by the cut and after the fight claimed it had impaired his vision for two rounds. The fifth round was one of the few occasions in his career when Mayweather clearly and decisively lost a round.
At that point in the fight, Mayweather fans may have been getting a little bit nervous. Although he was winning the fight- just- Mayweather had been cut, was in a real battle and had spent a lot of the fight complaining to referee Tony Weeks about the various rough house tactics Maidana was employing. Mayweather was looking out of sorts and Maidana was showing no signs of slowing down. The ingredients were there for an all time great upset.
However, Mayweather is known for his mid-fight ability to adjust and adapt to whatever his opponents bring. From the 6th round onwards, Mayweather began to demonstrate that ability. He began to spend less time hanging on the ropes and began to pick off Maidana with lead right hands and counter shots. At this point in most Mayweather fights, his opponents begin get discouraged as Mayweather adapts to their offence. However, Maidana deserves enormous credit for the determination and guts he showed. The tide had clearly begun to turn against him and yet he continued to plough forwards and continued to throw a huge volume of punches.
Although Mayweather dominated the second half of the fight, the rounds remained competitive with Maidana finding particular success in the 8th and 12th. In the end, it went to the scorecards. Two of the judges saw it in favour of Mayweather whilst the third scored the fight a draw. The fight was clearly won by Mayweather and perhaps the drawn scorecard was a reflection of the fact that Maidana had done better than expected rather than an accurate reflection of the fight itself.
In the immediate aftermath, Mayweather praised Maidana and spoke of the possibility of a rematch in September. He did reserve some criticism for referee Tony Weeks who, according to Mayweather, allowed Maidana to consistently punch low, punch on the break and punch behind the head.
This was the closest and most exciting Mayweather fight since his victory over Miguel Cotto 2 years ago. There are many similarities to that fight. Firstly, Floyd’s explanation for why the fight was exciting and why he took so much punishment was the same this time- he claims he deliberately fought that way purely to give the fans the entertainment they desire. Clearly this excuse is one that nobody gives much credence to.
The other similarity is Floyd’s questionable mental state entering both fights. In 2012 against Miguel Cotto he entered the fight knowing he would be carted off to prison shortly afterwards. The build up to this fight was punctuated with revelations about Mayweather’s personal life, controversy about the choice of gloves and talk that he was considering retirement. Whether this impacted his performance is obviously purely speculative but it is clear Mayweather was not at his best.
What is also clear is that Maidana has made significant improvements under the tutelage of Robert Garcia. Despite the loss, this fight has perhaps boosted Maidana’s reputation more than any of his victories. Maidana landed more punches on Mayweather than any of Mayweather’s opponents since CompuBox began keeping statistics on Mayweather fights (38 fights). He most likely did enough to get another crack at Mayweather in September.
On the undercard, Britain’s Amir Khan returned to the big stage with a victory over tough veteran Luis Collazo. Khan is one of the most watchable fighters in the sport. On Saturday he showed his offensive arsenal demonstrating his hand speed and punching power in scoring a clear victory over Collazo. Khan dominated from start to finish and dropped Collazo three times en route to a wide unanimous decision. What makes Khan so fascinating to watch is the combination of his blistering offence and undoubted vulnerability. Even in this fight with Collazo, which Khan was clearly dominating, the fight remained interesting to the final bell as everyone watching was aware of the possibility that one punch from Collazo could change the entire fight. Ramadan has ruled Khan out of a September showdown with Mayweather. He may have to beat Devon Alexander in November and hope he gets a shot at Mayweather this time next year.
Also on Saturday’s undercard, Adrien Broner returned to the ring for the first time since his loss to Marcos Maidana last December. Broner is one of the most frustrating fighters in the sport. He has all the physical gifts necessary to be a star and yet he seems to believe he is already there. This fight against a limited opponent in Molina was made for Broner to return with a bang and show that the Maidana fight was just a speed bump on his road to superstardom. My hope was that his first defeat would have been the kick in the ass he needed but Saturday night again showed the best and worst of Broner.
When he wants to he can look excellent, he has the hand speed, the size and reach to be a real handful for anyone in the 140 or 147 pound divisions. But once again he spent too much of the fight posing and posturing. Defensively he fails to realise that he is not Floyd Mayweather. He tries to defend using Mayweather’s shoulder roll technique but lacks the speed and footwork to make it work. As a result, he gets hit quite a lot. He got the win, which was never really in doubt, but didn’t impress anyone. Broner should fight at least twice more this year and hopefully we will see him against a quality opponent before the year is out. That will be the true test of whether Broner has what it takes to be the superstar he thinks he is.
Michael McCarthy, Pundit Arena.