Mayweather kept his unbeaten streak alive by decisioning Maidana by scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 114-114 to unify the WBC/WBA welterweight titles….
Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, Floyd “Money” Mayweather (46-0, 26 KOs) kept his unbeaten streak alive by decisioning Marcos “El Chino” Maidana (35-4, 31 KOs) by scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 114-114 to unify the WBC/WBA welterweight titles.
Fighting out of the blue corner in black trunks trimmed in red, white and blue, the 37-year-old Mayweather didn’t look a day over 36. It’s impossible to know which Maidana he expected to face, but the Maidana who appeared was the only Maidana who has ever appeared and was as tough and relentless as ever.
Maidana, fighting out of red corner in white trunks with, appropriately, black and blue trim, came to fight and came to win. He threw everything at Mayweather but the kitchen sink, which he would have also thrown at Mayweather had referee Tony Weeks allowed it.
El Chino established in the opening stanza that he had nothing to lose, whereas Mayweather looked surprised—and surprisingly ill-equipped—to deal with the whirlwind before him.
Maidana threw exactly 100 punches in the first round. Mayweather had a fight on his hands and acquitted himself more or less favorably, if not exactly like The Best Ever.
Mayweather changed the rhythm at the start of round two. He landed a left. Maidana shook it off and bulled Mayweather to the ropes, establishing a pattern that would repeat itself throughout the fight. He landed thudding body shots on the formerly untouchable pound-for-pounder, who seemed baffled by El Chino’s intensity. May countered and Maidana retreated, if only for one minute.
It was a better round than the first for Floyd. The same cannot be said for the round to follow.
Money came out moving in the third. But then Maidana tagged him. Using awkward angles and a Gatling gun ethos, the Argentine Assassin poured it on. May countered, seemingly unable or unwilling to initiate, but it was never enough to keep The Chinaman at bay. Maidana landed an uppercut. Mayweather resorted to some hot dog maneuver. Maidana was not amused and continued to rumble.
After three rounds of action, Maidana had landed 67 of 190 power punches to Mayweather’s 40 of 59.
Things looked to be going Mayweather’s way in round four when an accidental clash of heads drew first blood over his right eye. May is no more used to bleeding than he is used to being assaulted and the complaining to the referee commenced. Maidana may not have been fighting the cleanest fight in history, but he was fighting as he has always fought. He was outworking Mayweather. He was smothering his punches. He was frustrating the formerly unflappable richest athlete in the world.
Maidana pressed forward in the fifth. No matter what Mayweather did, no matter what punches he threw, they were of no concern to his opponent. In the past, Mayweather’s challengers wilted under pressure. Not Maidana. He no more bought the Mayweather hype than he bought the Broner hype. He also had the cojones and munitions to prove it.
Round six could have gone either way. Both fighters had their moments. Money was leaning against the ropes, countering when he had room, and Maidana stuck to him like lint on a cheap suit. Mayweather may have done enough in the last minute to steal the round, but he was trailing in the fight and wasn’t looking good doing it.
Maidana began losing steam in the seventh. It had to happen eventually. Maidana might have punched himself out. Never one to miss an opening, Mayweather took advantage, as any fighter would, of his opponent’s flagging output. Mayweather landed a solid right and double left hook to take the round. He was still trailing on our scorecard, but the tide had begun to turn.
Between rounds Robert Garcia told Maidana, “Don’t give up rounds, Chino. Don’t give up rounds. You can do it.”
Maidana got his second wind in round eight. Mayweather was relying on pinpoint accuracy, while El Chino opted for volume punching. Once again, both fighters had their moments, the round was close. But Mayweather continued to fight while moving backward. Maidana, by contrast, continued to press forward and make the fight.
At the end of the eighth, Robert Garcia was almost jubilant. “Four rounds to make history,” he said. “This is our fight!”
Mayweather and Maidana split the last four rounds. May took the 10th and 12th. Chino pocketed rounds nine and 11.
According to CompuBox, after 12 rounds of fighting Mayweather landed 230 of 426 total punches thrown (54%) to Maidana’s 221 of 858 (26%). Considering that they landed an equal number of punches and Maidana was the busier of the two, the scorecards might have reflected that disparity. Michael Pernick’s 114-114 was probably closest to the mark. Dave Moretti’s 116-112 was less so. And the less said about Bert A. Clements 117-111 the better.
After the fight Mayweather, as is his wont, decided to rewrite history.
“I just try to explain,” he said, “it was a tough competitive fight the fans wanted to see. Normally I go out there, I box, I move, I box, I move. Finally I was in a tough competitive fight. I wanted to give the fans an exciting fight. Normally when the fans come, I box, I move, I blow a guy out. Tonight I wanted to stand there and fight and give the fans their money’s worth. He’s a tough competitor. He was a very, very good fighter. I take nothing away from Marcos Maidana. He’s a tough competitor and we gave the fans what they wanted to see tonight. A true champion can make adjustments to anything. I take nothing away from this guy. He got here somehow some way. He’s a champion, I’m a champion, and we did what we had to do tonight.”
To say his insincerity runneth over is perhaps as facile as it is unfair. Nobody likes aging, especially overnight. Mayweather to his credit didn’t resort to foul play. But by trying to convince us that we should believe him and not our lying eyes, he does a disservice to the truth. Mayweather didn’t fight as he fought because he wanted to “give the fans an exciting fight” or “their money’s worth.” He fought as he fought because of Marcos Maidana. The Chinaman gave him no choice. He fought scared. He fought for his life. He fought to keep the Mayweather myth, which took a big hit, alive for three more fights.