American Floyd Mayweather Jr. was looking for another walk in the park when he took on Argentinean Marcos Maidana in Las Vegas, Nevada for the combined World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight (147 pounds) championship. What he got instead was a rumble in the jungle as Maidana fought in barbaric fashion, with the clear intent to chop his head off.
While the defending WBA champion, Maidana was pegged a huge underdog going into the fight. The odds went as high as 12-to-1 before settling to 6-to-1, still in favor of Mayweather, when the bell rang. Maidana, though, was unmindful of the underdog tag and came out of his corner like a Doberman. Mayweather found himself largely on the defensive as Maidana bullied him along the ropes and peppered him with punches in the early rounds.
Maidana was particularly effective with his overhand right. Thrown in a looping manner, the overhand right hovered past Mayweather’s shoulder and landed on top of his head, overcoming the American’s shoulder roll/block maneuver. Maidana held his own and the fight, in the opinion of many, was even after 8 rounds. A head-butt induced cut in the fourth round added to Mayweather’s woes and his cornermen started pushing the panic button by imploring the WBC champion to stop moving and let his hands go.
Mayweather responded by planting his feet and timing Maidana’s wild rushes with short left hooks and right uppercuts thrown from the hip. When Maidana tried to pin Mayweather along the ropes, the latter wisely spun away, like a matador sidestepping a bull. By the 10th round, Mayweather was landing cleanly and virtually teeing off with his right hand. Maidana began to miss and the frustration became evident when he started motioning Mayweather to stop running and rumble with him.
When the rosin settled, Judge Michael Pernick scored it 114-114, a draw. Dave Moretti scored it 116-112 for Mayweather while Burt Clements had it 117-111 also for Mayweather, giving the American the win by majority decision. A draw would have been acceptable, but the score of Clements was definitely way off the mark. Amid howls of protests from the pro-Maidana crowd at the packed MGM Grand, Mayweather raised his record to 46-0 with 26 knockouts.
The post-fight statistics showed that Mayweather threw half as many punches as Maidana (425 to 858), but he was the more accurate, landing 9 more. It is interesting to note though that the 221 punches Mayweather absorbed from Maidana were the most he took in his last 38 fights, giving credence to the observation that his once impregnable armor is now showing definitive cracks.
Maidana’s performance showed that Mayweather is now beatable. Then again, Mayweather also drove home the point that it will still take a Herculean effort to actually beat him. Mayweather’s defense did not totally betray him and it actually held up down the stretch. Mayweather also shattered the belief that brute force alone can topple him. Maidana tired down the stretch and failed to improvise. For his part, Mayweather made the necessary adjustments.
Under his contract with Showtime, Mayweather is obligated to return to the ring in September. Former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan is reportedly next in line for Mayweather, but Khan, a Muslim, has made it clear that he does not intend to fight while in the midst of Ramadan which falls in the same month. Mayweather has expressed interest in giving Maidana a rematch, and you can say that the Argentinean is itching to get another shot. Maidana (35-4, 31 knockouts) even bragged after the fight that he could have knocked out Mayweather if he was allowed to use Everlast gloves. Mayweather objected to the gloves because it contained less padding on the knuckle area, a factor that would have definitely favored the hard-hitting Maidana.
Amid the criticisms Mayweather has been receiving following his pedestrian performance, the best choice for his next foe is really Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather will instantly silence the soothsayers if he lines up Pacquiao for his next fight and beats him. No less than heavyweight boxing great Muhammad Ali egged on Mayweather to finally take on Pacquiao. Mayweather, however, is apparently using the talks of a rematch with Maidana as a way to avoid any discussion about a Pacquiao fight.
At age 37, Mayweather’s days in the ring are numbered. Public pressure is building up for him to forget Maidana and head straight to a fight with Pacquiao. The prevailing view, however, is that Mayweather will opt for the safer route that is a Maidana rematch. Mayweather would call it a smart move, but it is plain cowardice as far as the fans are concerned.
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