Floyd Mayweather Jr. notched his 46th straight win with a majority decision over Argentine Marcos Maidana (35-4) on Saturday night.
Mayweather‘s successful work at the Las Vegas MGM Grand was, however, anything but the boxing walkover it was expected to be. The rugged fighter known as “El Chino” made “Money” Mayweather work for his money at the welterweight unification fight, where Mayweather was defending the WBC belt and Maidana the WBA title.
Many of Mayweather’s former foes have vowed to make their meetings with him a brawl, but the preternaturally elusive fighter from Grand Rapids, Mich., has always managed to skip blithely out of the way of his hyperaggressive rivals. Tonight was different.
While fans will squabble about who won, everyone concurs that Maidana succeeded in making Mayweather fight instead of box. The 12-round title unification bout was a scintillating but ugly contest in which both combatants were warned about questionable tactics: Maidana for coming in with his head and Mayweather for excessive holding. At one point, Mayweather and Maidana wrestled and tumbled through the ropes and onto the ring apron.
From the first to the last gong, Maidana kept his pre-fight promise of applying relentless pressure. Again and again, he drove his man to the ropes and fired away with chopping overhand rights and left hooks. But waging fistic war on the inside requires maintaining the distance to work effectively and do damage. Whenever the Argentine broke the perimeter, and that was often, Mayweather was usually able to grab him and tie him up.
According to CompuBox, Maidana fired 858 punches, almost twice the number of Mayweather. The much more accurate puncher, Mayweather was able to strafe Maidana with his patented lead and counter rights, but they did little to slow Maidana down. Maidana landed slightly more power shots.
Going into the championship rounds, the full house was spellbound. It seemed as though the fight could go either way and that a page in boxing history was about to turn.
In the end, however, one judge had it a draw (114-114) while the other two had Mayweather ahead by a comfortable margin (117-111; 116-112).
After the scores were announced, hisses and boos resonated throughout the arena. Boxing, no less than figure skating, is hard to objectively assess. There were a number of stanzas that could have gone either way, but there were few complaints about the judge, who saw this matchup as dead even.
In the post-fight interview, Mayweather, who was cut for the first time in his career, said, “I was in a tough, competitive fight. I normally like to go out there and box and move but he put pressure on me so that’s when I decided I’d make it competitive and fight differently.”
After the gloves were cut off, a disgruntled Maidana remarked: “I feel I was robbed. I feel I won…He never hurt me with a punch. He wasn’t even that tough.”
Going into this fight, there was concern among boxing fans that Mayweather was running out of marketable rivals. That shouldn’t be a cause for worry anymore. By the end of the evening, everyone was calling for a sequel to this fight. Mayweather seemed agreeable: “If the fans want to see it again, let’s do it again