by Cliff Rold
Floyd Mayweather brought the circus, Lil Wayne, and Boy Geor…err, Justin Beiber (seriously, that hat) to the ring. Marcos Maidana brought Marcos Maidana.
It’s time to stop underestimating what that means.
Win or lose, outside the Devon Alexander fight (and he even had moments there), Marcos Maidana is a handful for anyone he fights. He proved it against Andriy Kotelnik, Victor Ortiz, Amir Khan, Erik Morales, Adrien Broner, and now against a man with a strong case for being boxing’s best fighter since the prime of Pernell Whitaker.
Mayweather is a historically great fighter.
Maidana is all fighter and that makes for some damn hard nights. One of these days, he’ll get full credit for that before a fight.
Let’s go to the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Mayweather A-; Maidana B-/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Mayweather B; Maidana A/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Mayweather A+; Maidana C-/Post: B+; C+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Mayweather A+; Maidana A/Post: A+; A+
At the end, the scorecard here read 6-6. Either man winning close would have been fine and there’s no argument with the call for Mayweather. Some of the scoring? Let’s get back to that.
The fight was a tale of two halves, scored 4-2 on each side for either man. Maidana carried the favor in the first half. The relentless pressure of the early rounds had to leave Mayweather with some sore ribs when he woke up Sunday. Maidana landed some good, hard shots upstairs but his best work was done to the flanks. Mayweather would respond with some standout stuff, but huge chunks of rounds were being decided by the ring generalship of Maidana.
A shift came in the middle rounds. Mayweather started to take away more of the body attack and remained elusive upstairs. He adjusted, Maidana slowed down, and outside of the eighth it was getting hard to find rounds for the Argentine. Mayweather’s safe play in a big part of the final round allowed Maidana a case for closing with a winning frame.
There just wasn’t quite enough for the upset.
Scores ranging around 115-113 for either man were fine. 116-112 was a little stretch but acceptable. Burt Clement’s 117-11 was getting into the arena of absurd.
Put that aside and what’s left: a whale of a fight. Isn’t that what we really come to see? Maidana made it a fight and Mayweather fought back. His post-fight rhetoric about giving the fans what they want was comical. He didn’t choose to fight on Maidana’s terms.
His 37-year old legs had the terms set for him. Mayweather is getting older and he’s going to have new difficulties with younger men who want what he has. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. At a similar age, Ray Robinson found a whale of a challenge in a 30-year old Carmen Basilio in a fight with some parallels. That so many thought the 30-year old Maidana, and he ended up playing some of the Basilio role just fine, wasn’t up to it made for a pleasant surprise.
Brief aside: This is not to say Mayweather is as good as Robinson or Maidana is the same class as Basilio. Calm down those of you who are freaking out right now…breathe deep.
It must also be noted it was a dirty fight in spots. Floyd did a lot of his usual elbow and neck leaning work. Maidana responded with shots all over the place (back, below the belt) and an attempted knee that was well over the line. At one point, they exchanged elbows to the throat area and just sort of nodded at each other.
It was a fight. They were fighting. At least Maidana was letting it all hang out. He didn’t just follow Floyd around the ring like Canelo Alvarez did for too much of the megafight of 2013. That was man vs. boy by the end.
This was mano y mano.
Would it have been any different if Maidana was in the gloves he wanted? Mayweather ultimately got his way, Maidana not even allowed to use commission approved gloves. That sort of nonsense shouldn’t be forgotten. It’s one thing to negotiate gloves before a fight. It’s another to put one’s star above the commission and bully opponents. Mayweather should be good enough to win without this sort of garbage.
Maybe he knew something going in everyone else didn’t.
The talk at the end of the night was rematch. The last time Floyd had one this close, against Jose Luis Castillo, he went right back at him to set matters straight. If that happens again here, and it should, everyone should take Maidana’s chances more serious than they did the first time around.
Report Card Picks 2014: 21-7 (including site pick in Love-Periban)
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org