By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — It wasn’t as easy as it was supposed to be. In fact, it was, at times, downright exciting. The master craftsman was being cornered. Floyd Mayweather, king of the virtuoso performance who’s so superior to every fighter in the world that his fights are boring, was being tagged—and tagged often.
Who knew Marcos Maidana would test Mayweather’s impregnable veneer? Who suspected he’d be able to punish Mayweather and use roughhouse tactics that proved highly effective against one of the best defensive fighters in history?
For eight rounds, Maidana appeared as if he would shock the world. But in the last four rounds, Mayweather’s superior conditioning surfaced in remaining undefeated at 46-0 (26 KOs) with a majority decision over the Argentine powerpuncher.
Judge Dave Moretti had it 116-112 for Mayweather, while judge Burt A. Clements scored it 117-111 for “Money,” and judge Michael Pernick had the fight even, 114-114 (I scored it 115-113 for Mayweather, though had Maidana ahead, 5-3, after eight).
It’s the second-straight majority decision captured by Mayweather, who received $32 million for the fight, although he dominated Canelo Alvarez in September 2013—with a dubious 114-114 score by myopic former judge CJ Ross.
Maidana (35-4, 31 KOs) said he wanted a rematch, though he faded terribly in the last five rounds. Mayweather connected on 230 of 426 total punches, and Maidana landed 221 of 858 total punches. In power punches, Mayweather was 178 of 275, to Maidana’s 185 of 540.
The 221 punches are the most Mayweather has ever absorbed. It gave Maidana, and the crowd, the false sense that he won the fight.
“I definitely think I won this fight,” Maidana said. “Floyd did not fight like the man I expected him to. He made me change the gloves. I had bigger gloves and everything and I still gave him a fight. He did win some rounds, but the majority of them I dominated.”
“We can take it back down there right now if you want. Put the ring back up,” Mayweather said. “I gave the fans what the fans wanted to see. It’s not a problem. If he feels he won, we can do it again in September.”
The first half of the fight was intriguing. Maidana took a few pages out of a yellowed old-school book. One being the crowding Oscar De La Hoya tried against Mayweather in Money’s split-decision victory in 2007. Like De La Hoya, Maidana wilted in the end. He also barrowed a page from an older book, Rocky Marciano, who used to hit his opponents anywhere he could.
Maidana accomplished that against Mayweather, landing a few borderline shots and dug into Mayweather’s sides.
Those ploys worked well.
In the first two rounds, Maidana pushed Mayweather into the ropes. He threw big clubbing rights, chopping, almost karate-like shots anywhere he could hit Mayweather. Maidana’s body attack took a toll, too.
The problem for Maidana was whether or not he could keep up the pace. In the fourth, an accidental head butt caused a cut over Mayweather’s right eye, the first time Mayweather ever saw his own blood in the ring. After six rounds, Maidana had a surprising lead on many ringside scorecards.
In the sixth, Mayweather was waiting on Maidana to come to him. Maidana, meanwhile, was driving through Mayweather, forcing Mayweather to fight his fight.
The course of the fight changed in the seventh. It was by far Mayweather’s best round, as he went back to fighting in the center of the ring, chipping away at Maidana.
Throughout the fight, the 37-year-old Mayweather, who rarely gets hit as hard as he did against Maidana, didn’t look right—not like the slick Money Mayweather who’s so adept at moving out of harm’s way.
Mayweather said his intention to stand and trade with Maidana was by design, possibly a dumb down tool to make the fight more exciting—and drum up more interest in his next pay-per-view fight, possibly against Amir Khan. It was a plan that almost backfired.
“I always make the adjustments,” he said. “That’s the difference between me and every other fighter. Normally, I box and move. Finally, I was in a tough, competitive fight. Tonight, I wanted to stand there and fight and give the fans their money’s worth.”
As of Saturday night, Mayweather, the best pound-for-pound fighter, is showing signs the pack may be closing in.