Heading into this past Saturday night, very few people thought Marcos Maidana would have the tools to even win a round against the sport’s pound for pound king, Floyd Mayweather. Last night Maidana did not just win a round or score a moral victory, as Miguel Cotto did in 2012. Maidana, without having any benefit of the doubt, came up just millimeters short of ruining Floyd Mayweather’s spotless record. Fighting like a mad man possessed, Maidana pushed Mayweather to show not just his skill, but his grit and will.
Marcos Maidana was instructed by 2013’s trainer of the year, Robert Garcia, to implement exactly what Jose Luis Castillo did to Mayweather in 2002. Several fighters have attempted the same strategy in going up against Mayweather, only to look foolish. Maidana, however, had the punching power and the huevos to get it done. Just as Castillo did in 2002, Maidana did not plod his feet and follow Mayweather around the ring, he cut the ring off. Maidana would use Mayweather’s movement against him at times. When Mayweather attempted to create some space with his legs, Maidana used his forward momentum as Mayweather would back pedal, to gain leverage on his punches as he continually rushed Mayweather onto the ropes throughout the night.
The version of Floyd Mayweather that showed up last night was not quite the same fighter who dominated Canelo Alvarez in September of last year. Against Alvarez and Robert Guerrero last year, Mayweather had regained his legs. In each of those fights, he bounced around like a 25-year-old. Last night however, was the Floyd Mayweather who fought Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, and Victor Ortiz. Mayweather’s legs, like in those fights, looked their age. Also just like in those bouts, the hand speed and skills were as good as ever, but when Mayweather has to be planted and lacks the ability to float around the ring, his defense is not as virtuous.
Following Floyd’s performances from 2010-2012 against Ortiz, Mosley and Cotto, many were beginning to believe that while Mayweather was still excellent, he was in decline. After Mayweather’s terrific 2013 campaign, those notions were put to rest. Rest assured though, with Maidana having reminded everybody that Mayweather is indeed a mortal, those sentiments will now be resumed. Also, for the first time in a few years, in a hypothetical matchup, Pacquiao would no longer be the huge underdog he has been since being KO’d by Juan Manuel Marquez.
When underdogs do better than they were expected to perform, human nature typically causes one to overrate the performance. Following the majority decision, millions of fans throughout the world screamed a robbery, a fix. That just was not the case. What fight fans got were 12 rounds of back and forth action, with each fighter exchanging rounds, implementing their game plans. If you scored the bout for either fighter, it would have to be 7 rounds to 5 and no wider. Ideally, we would have gotten a draw, as neither man truly separated himself from the other. Maidana was the more active, aggressive, busier fighter. Floyd Mayweather landed the more eye-catching, clean scoring punches. Those who despise Mayweather will say he got a gift, “The Money Team” will say Floyd clearly won. Both factions are wrong and biased. It could have gone either way, that is the truth.
While a boxing purists (like you, the reader, and I) can usually appreciate the twelve round masterclass performances Mayweather often displays, nothing is better when an all time great like Mayweather gets punched back and has to face adversity. Rational people have always known Floyd is a great fighter, but they wanted to see his intestinal fortitude. They saw it, in a war where he was bloodied and in against the biggest puncher in the welterweight division. Like the hall of fame fighter he is, Mayweather pulled it out, barely.
The sad part in all of this is that ultimately Mayweather was never really going to win with the audience. He was expected to dominate, and had he done so he would have received little credit. The fans got a great fight, a war, they definitely got their money’s worth. Instead of celebrating a great contest, and giving each fighter their respective due, much of the talk this Sunday morning consists of degrading comments about Floyd Mayweather. Marcos Maidana is not getting the credit he deserves for being the world-class warrior he is. The fans seem to be more interested in bashing Mayweather, than giving Maidana credit. That is a shame, because we did not see an all time great get “exposed.” We did not see a “robbery decision.” Regardless of whom you had winning, you were enthralled. What we saw last night, was an example once again of why this is the greatest sport in the world. Lets all collectively cross our fingers that we can see it again. There is unfinished business here, Mayweather has found his rival.