LAS VEGAS – Marcos Maidana came to fight, throwing all caution to the wind and showing little respect for Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s prowess or reputation. He threw punches in bunches, landing anywhere he could.
It was not enough to subdue Mayweather, who scored a 12-round majority decision to add the WBA welterweight belt to his RING and WBC championship and remain unbeaten in 46 fights before a sellout crowd of 16,268.
Judges Burt Clemens scored it 117-111 and judge Dave Moretti scored it 116-112. But judge Michael Pernick scored the fight even. At least Maidana thought Pernick was on the right track.
“He did dominate some rounds, but the majority of them I dominated them,” Maidana said in the ring after the fight. “I definitely thought I won this fight. Floyd did not fight like a man like I thought he would. Other fighters respected him and didn’t go toe-to-toe like I did.”
According to CompuBox punch statistics the 221 punches that Maidana landed on Mayweather were the most by any opponent in the 38 fights by Mayweather that they have charted.
Mayweather (46-0, 26 KOs) wasn’t conceding anything other than the fact that Maidana came to fight.
“I describe this fight as a tough competitive fight,” Mayweather said. “It’s what the fans wanted to see. I want to give the fans a good exciting fight. Tonight I gave the fans their money’s worth. He was a tough competitor. I take nothing away from Marcos Maidana.”
You couldn’t take anything away from Maidana (35-4, 31 KOs). He proved to be very strong, though his power never really manifested itself the way it did when he defeated Adrien Broner, whom he knocked down twice on the way to a victory by decision to set up the match with Mayweather.
“They took away my gloves,” said Maidana, who wasn’t allowed to use the brand of Everlast gloves he wanted for the fight. “If I had my gloves I would have knocked him out. They said the cut was from a headbutt, but it was a punch. He never hurt me with a punch. He wasn’t even tough.”
Maidana even drew blood from Mayweather, head butting the Pound-for-Pound king in the fourth round. But Mayweather’s longtime, but seldom used cutman Rafael Garcia quickly closed it and there were no visible signs of trouble.
“For two rounds I couldn’t see,” Mayweather said.
Mayweather said this was the kind of fight where he might have to reach into his bag of tricks and pull out his A game. He didn’t have to reach that deep, but he did need to make adjustments for the hard-charging Argentine and rely on his “B” game.
“A true champion can make adjustments to anything. He’s a champion and I’m a champion and we did what we did in there tonight,” Mayweather said.
It was as tough a fight as Mayweather has been in since he fought Miguel Cotto in 2012. Cotto bloodied Mayweather’s nose on the way to losing a decision.
Both Mayweather and Maidana said they would be amenable to a rematch in September, the next time that Mayweather is scheduled to step in the ring.
“If the fans want to see it again, we’ll do it again,” Mayweather said.
Maidana spoke as if he had won the fight.
“If he wants a rematch, I’ll give him a rematch,” he said. “I’m not scared of him why not give him a rematch.”
The match started with fake money, bearing Mayweather’s picture, raining from the ceiling of the arena as Mayweather was accompanied to the ring by rapper Lil Wayne. And when he arrived in the ring, he found Oscar De La Hoya there waiting for him. De La Hoya has been feuding with Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer over the direction of the company. Schaefer was not in the ring for the start of the fight, but he was there at the end.
It was just another distraction in week full of them. Mayweather ran those distractions right up to 24 hours before the fight. He had spoken of retirement and wanting to do things that regular people do – like go to the movies alone and go on vacation with his wife (though he’s not married).
Those close to him said he has been pining away for his estranged fiancée, Shantiel Jackson, and it was distracting him from concentrating on Maidana. And when he was inspecting the gloves for the match against Maidana on Friday night he blew a gasket because he thought the padding had been removed from the knuckles area of the gloves. Leonard Ellerbe, the President of Mayweather Promotions, said there would be no fight if Maidana wore those gloves. The problem was later resolved.
But Mayweather has thrived with distractions in the past, including feuds with his father, Floyd, Sr., who has returned to his corner as his trainer.
Whether any of it was being used as promotional fodder, only the Mayweather insiders knew for sure. And Maidana was certainly capable of testing whether Mayweather’s head was completely in the fight or now.
Maidana came right after Mayweather from the opening bell, swarming Mayweather with a barrage of looping punches. He landed a left on Mayweather’s temple as he had him backed into the ropes. Mayweather seemed content to let Maidana throw as much as he wanted. Maidana’s strategy appeared to be to throw punches in bunches and land them anywhere he could – back, arms, legs, head, hip, body.
Before sitting down on his stool at the end of the second round, Mayweather was dancing to the music blaring from the speakers. It was still early.
Referee Tony Weeks called time early in the third round and issued a warning to Maidana for hitting Mayweather behind the head. Mayweather’s speed was noticeable when he kept Maidana in the middle of the ring. He was able to stick him to the body and effectively use his jab and land combinations. But it was when Mayweather allowed himself to get pinned on the ropes where Maidana was able to deploy his batter any body part strategy.
Mayweather sustained a cut over right eye after a clash of heads in the fourth round. Maidana began to work his powerful jab in the fifth round. It seemed to keep Mayweather off balance and at least gave him something to ponder as he tried to work his way inside against the hard-hitting Argentine. But Mayweather made an adjustment and took away the jab for the rest of the fight.
Mayweather began to land his pot shots in the sixth round, connecting with a sharp left uppercut as Maidana had him backed up in the corner and slashing Maidana with a left hook while in the middle of the ring.
Maidana landed a low blow that caught Mayweather on the right thigh in the eighth round, but Weeks didn’t see it because he was on the other side. Mayweather grimaced in pain and Maidana smacked him in the jaw with a left hook in the clinch. Maidana had been trying to rough up Mayweather all night.
By the latter stages of the fight, Mayweather had settled into a steady rhythm of sticking a shot to Maidana’s midsection and then drumming his jaw with rights and lefts. In the 10th round Mayweather began deploying the jab more and working his combinations off it. It left Maidana following him around the ring, throwing wildly into the air and beating his chest with his gloves imploring Mayweather to brawl. There was no need for Mayweather to do that. Not when he could box Maidana’s ears off.
Maidana’s fans in the crowd tried to help him rally in the 11th round by throwing up a chant of “Chino! Chino! Chino!” It did little to help him. Although he did bull rush Mayweather and push him through the ropes and onto the apron.
At the end of the fight both men jumped on the turnbuckles as if they had won. Perhaps in their hearts they felt they had. But on the judges’ scorecards only Mayweather had carried the night.