Still The One
Boxing's pound-for-pound king, Floyd Mayweather, improved to 46-0 Saturday by beating Marcos Maidana by majority decision, relying primarily on his accuracy to stymie the aggressive Argentinian.
The social media outrage early this morning over the results of Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana showdown either stems from the misguided theory that volume trumps accuracy, or is a merely an indicator of just how desperate Mayweather’s detractors are to see him lose for a change.
In any event, the fight billed as “The Moment” turned out to be a lot closer and far more competitive than most boxing experts predicted, mainly because Maidana’s superfluous output forced Mayweather to fight his way off the ropes and brawl toe-to-toe more often than he would’ve liked to.
Regardless, boxing’s pound-for-pound king reigned supreme once again, beating Maidana by majority decision, 114-114, 117-111, 116-112, to improve to 46-0 and become the unified WBC and WBA welterweight world champion.
You’d have thought this was a replay of the indefensible Tim Bradley-Manny Pacquiao screwjob from 2012 with the way the world wide web sounded off in the wee hours of Sunday morning, but punch stats don’t lie. Maidana threw 432 more punches than Mayweather, 858 total, and more than doubled Mayweather’s output, yet Mayweather still landed nine more shots, which shows just how accurate Mayweather was. The champ connected on 54 percent of his attempts, dwarfing Maidana’s wildly inaccurate 26 percent success rate and landed 65 percent of his power punches to Maidana’s 34. Mayweather was also lethal to the body and fought effectively off the ropes.
The fight really wasn’t that close. The only area in which Maidana exceled was out-working Mayweather, but flailing aimlessly and missing at an alarming clip won’t win a world championship fight unless the judges sit in the nosebleeds and rely solely on crowd noise from the opponent’s overzealous fan base, which is where judge Michael Pernick might’ve sat to record his incomprehensible 114-114 scorecard – apparently the same place C.J. Ross sat last year when he scored the Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight a draw.
Even in the early rounds, where Maidana took everyone by surprise with his aggressiveness, perhaps fooling observers into thinking that it would somehow translate into him winning the fight, the majority of Maidana’s punches resembled 12-to-6 hammer fists clubbing Mayweather on the back of the head – no real damage inflicted. Referee Tony Weeks actually had to warn Maidana to knock it off.
Maidana deserves credit for giving Mayweather his toughest fight in more than a decade, the only real, legitimate scare for Floyd since Jose Luis Castillo took him 12 rounds twice in 2002, but Mayweather also isn’t the same fighter he was three or four years ago when he ran through Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz, Miguel Cotto, etc., while preserving his body fighting just once each calendar year. Mayweather is now 37. He’s slowed a bit, and that was evident Saturday despite his tremendous accuracy between the ropes. This was also his third fight in the past 12 months as he continues to burn through his six-fight, 30-month Pay Per View contract with Showtime/CBS, which will guarantee him at least $200 million before factoring in his share of the TV money.
The Mayweather of old – not the old Mayweather – probably beats Maidana the way Mayweather beat Mosley in 2010 or Juan Manuel Marquez in 2009. The irony of it all is that the Pay Per View dollars Mayweather earns for each fight on his new contract ultimately depend on how marketable each fight is and how many people make the purchase. Now that Mayweather is coming off arguably his closest fight in more than a decade, there might be even more incentive for boxing fans to tune in the next time he fights if they think there’s a chance he might actually lose.
As much of a draw as he is, Mayweather is also the sport’s most polarizing figure. You could argue there are as many people paying to see him lose as there are to watch him win, even though he’s somehow become more likeable than the obnoxious, loathsome Adrien Broner. A cynic would suggest he took his foot off the gas during stretches of Saturday’s fight just to create the illusion that his perfect record is in jeopardy the next time he steps in the ring – same with the ridiculous glove controversy following Friday’s weigh-in, which was much ado about nothing.
The reality is that while he’s still the sport’s premiere tactician and most impenetrable target, Mayweather is closing in on the finish line. The difficulty of Saturday’s fight might have driven us even further than ever from the dream match-up with Manny Pacquiao, as if Richard Schaefer and Bob Arum’s tempestuous relationship hasn’t done enough to burst that bubble.
Even with the Golden Boy himself, Oscar De La Hoya, breaking bread with Arum this weekend in an attempt to end the feud, it’s more likely we’ll see Mayweather-Amir Kahn or a Mayweather-Maidana rematch within the next six months than the fight we’ve been dying to see for the past five years. But no matter what you think about Mayweather, or what you want to see and what you train your mind to see on fight night, there’s no denying the mastery on display. Mayweather proved again Saturday that accuracy and effectiveness always beats sheer output and volume. The pound-for-pound king is still on top, even if he’s lost a step or two.
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