By Jake Donovan
Floyd Mayweather scored a repeat win over Marcos Maidana in their 12-round, two-division championship bout Saturday evening at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Even in making it look easier in the ring the second time around, however, it appears that not everyone was impressed by his level of dominance – or the night as a whole.
To his credit, even Mayweather himself wasn’t jumping for joy over his latest ring performance.
“I give myself a C-,” admitted the pound-for-pound king, who rolled to 47-0 (26KOs) with the win. “I could have boxed better. I’m better than that.”
The opening three rounds actually saw Mayweather at his best, using every inch of the ring and dong his best to avoid a boxing match breaking out into a fight. Absent early on were the same bullying tactics that allowed Maidana to enjoy so much success in their first fight this past May. The closest he came was landing a right hand just before the bell to end round three.
Maidana carried over the momentum in the fourth, by far his best round of the fight. Closing the gap for the first time on the night, the Argentine brawler was able to smother Mayweather along the ropes, not having to go on the hunt and instead just plant his feet and let his hands go.
The rest of the night was spent chasing his undefeated foe… and at times wishing to chase away referee Kenny Bayless, who garnered far too much screen time in a rare harshly criticized performance by an otherwise highly respected official.
Concerns over in-ring officiating stemmed from the nature of the first fight. Mayweather accused Maidana of employing a win-at-all-costs style, while Maidana and his team pointed out Mayweather’s penchant for throwing elbows.
Both surfaced in the rematch, as well as quite a bit of holding and hitting from Mayweather, who threw just 326 punches but landed more than 50% on the night. Maidana was the busier fighter, attempting 527 punches but landing just 128 – nearly 100 fewer than in the first fight.
The difference in the rematch was Mayweather reverting back to old form, mastering the art of hit-and-don’t-get hit. Whenever Maidana attempted to get off his punches, he was met with clinches and at times Mayweather smothering his nasal passage with the palm of his glove.
Most of the tactics went unnoticed by Bayless, who was quick to jump in and separate the fighters whenever action was close. He also issued a warning to Maidana solely on the word from Mayweather that a bite took place in round eight. Replays ultimately revealed this to be true, as Maidana appeared to have wrapped his mouth around the thumb of Mayweather’s left glove.
By his own admission, Bayless didn’t witness the act, yet still walked Maidana over to trainer Robert Garcia to issue a warning.
Despite evidence shown in replays, Maidana played dumb to the act.
“I didn’t bite him,” Maidana stubbornly insisted, or so suggested Garcia as he was translating, though at times seeming to state his own opinion rather than reveal what his fighter was actually saying. “Maybe he had his glove in my mouth, but I didn’t bite him.”
What Mayweather actually had was the fight in hand, piling up rounds early on in leaving no doubt in the eyes of the judges. Each of his past two bouts have resulted in majority decision wins. What appeared to be a clear win over Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez instead resulted in the forced resignation of judge C. J. Ross, who somehow had the fight even.
Maidana managed to fight to a tie on one of the three scorecards in May, naturally believing he deserved to win the fight. His fighting pride got in the way of logic this time around, as the welterweight contender once again believed he deserved to have his hand raised.
“I thought I won the fight, but if judges like to give the fight to fighters that run I guess they gave it to him,” Maidana (35-5, 31KOs) suggested after the fight. “I was the aggressor; I brought the fight to him.”
However true that may have been, Mayweather still landed more and at a much higher percentage. The scorecards were thought to be moot once Maidana lost a point in round 10 for shoving his foe to the canvas.
“He fought dirtier than me, but the referee took the point from me,” Maidana stated of the sequence.
It turned out to be more crucial than expected, as the three scores – 116-111 (twice) and 115-112 – were closer than was believed to be the case by most observers. Mayweather coasted a bit down stretch, insisting he was a one-handed fighter by that point and unable to implement his desired game plan.
“After the 8th round, my hand was numb,” Mayweather insisted. “I couldn’t use my left hand.”
Whether the incident led to that degree of pain, Mayweather once again proved to be the best fighter in the sport, and its highest paid as well. The win advances his record to 47-0 (26KOs), earning a minimum of $32 million in his fourth of a six-fight deal with Showtime/CBS since bolting from HBO in 2013.
It remains to be seen if Showtime feels like it is getting its full money’s worth from the relationship. Mayweather’s win over Alvarez last September set revenue records as the most lucrative event in boxing history. However, his wins over Maidana in May and Robert Guerrero a year ago – the first fight under the aforementioned pact – failed to register in the manner in which all associated parties believed would be the case.
The first fight with Maidana – who made $1.5 million in May and doubled his purse for Saturday’s fight – featured what was described by event handlers as the most expensive undercard in boxing history. Total purses of the supporting cast totaled more than $4 million, pushing the card’s overall price tag to nearly $40 million.
Less effort and creativity was spent on the undercard this time around.
Supporting action included: Leo Santa Cruz in a gross mismatch as he knocked out former sparring partner Manuel Roman in two rounds; Mayweather-promoted Mickey Bey claiming a lightweight belt in a painfully dull 12-round split decision over Miguel Vazquez in a fight that featured one of the worst scorecards in title fight history; and James de la Rosa dominating – and possibly retiring – a badly faded Alfredo Angulo in a middleweight fight with absolutely nothing at stake.
Compare that to the likes of Amir Khan and Adrien Broner appearing in May, and Danny Garcia beating Lucas Matthysse in the chief support to Mayweather’s win over Matthysse last September, and you’re left with far less value this time around.
This fact was perhaps not lost on the Showtime broadcasting team. For the first time since Mayweather crossed the street, he was questioned about the biggest possible fight to be made, that has been left on the table for nearly five years.
Subdued throughout fight week and even on his way to the ring in a solo entrance, Mayweather remained respectful in answering a question regarding Manny Pacquiao.
Making the fight would have been a lot easier prior to 2013, when both fighters were under contract with rival network HBO. Mayweather is contractually bound to Showtime for his next two fights – after he which he plans to retire, or so he suggested earlier in the week. Pacquiao’s contract extension with Top Rank keeps him tied to HBO, where he will headlined a November 22 pay-per-view versus Chris Algieri.
Despite their stance as the two biggest box office attractions in the sport today, it’s clear that the public has grown tired of Mayweather and Pacquiao headlining increasingly high pay-per-view telecasts (Saturday’s show came with a price tag of $65, plus $10 additional for High-Definition (HD) service) without the possibility of fighting each other.
Mayweather even criticized Top Rank’s Bob Arum – his former promoter and for whom Pacquiao has fought since 2006, shortly after Mayweather’s unrelated departure – for suggesting talks have taken place with CBS brass about finally making the fight happen. Such claims, Mayweather insisted, were just Arum’s way of selling Pacquiao’s fight with Algieri.
However, it seems there is some truth to Arum’s recent statements regarding the fight. After all, even Mayweather has now acknowledged the fight as the biggest to be made.
“I don’t know who I’m fighting next, but I plan to return in May,” Mayweather confirmed after the fight. “I’m staying busy. If the Manny Pacquiao fight presents itself, let’s make it happen.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox