by Cliff Rold
There’s some spring left in that step even at 37.
Using his legs earlier, and more, Floyd Mayweather left no doubt about the better man at the end of the rematch with Marcos Maidana. While referee Kenny Bayless played a part in the tone of the fight, the end result was more a case of classes.
It wasn’t easy either fight, but Mayweather made it easier with a second look. Maidana made it close last time. This time, he just made it interesting on occasion. Mayweather remains a class ahead of the hammering Argentine.
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: Same
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Mayweather A+; Maidana A/Post: A; B+
Maidana will wonder for the rest of his career what me might have done with an extra minute. In the closing seconds of round three, he landed one of the best shots anyone ever has on Mayweather. The reigning Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight champion was clearly rocked, so much that his strategy of the first three rounds gave way to Maidana having his best round of the fight in the fourth as he appeared to still be clearing his head. Had that shot landed a minute earlier, maybe he does enough damage to force a dogfight for more of the contest.
Maidana still had some good frames, particularly between rounds 7 and 10 (though he didn’t win them all), but it wasn’t nearly enough. Mayweather gave him the twelfth because, by then, it was already over. Maidana couldn’t produce, or sustain, the output he did the first time.
Was some of that on Bayless? The official was so quick to separate the two men; he sometimes broke them when they weren’t even in a clinch. Infighting was contained by Bayless, and by a Mayweather who used copious clinches. US fight fans often loathe when Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko and ageless Light Heavyweight titlist Bernard Hopkins lay over the back of foes or lead with arms stretched looking for clinches before punches.
Mayweather did a lot of that Saturday and there is no reason to enjoy watching it. That said, few referees call it (against anyone) and it can work. It worked Saturday. It worked so well, Maidana appeared to bite Mayweather on the glove. Did Floyd get carried away in selling the foul? Probably. Was it in response to a foul? It appeared so.
It’s still biting.
Coupled with an attempted knee in the first fight, Maidana crossed lines between wink and nod fouls and outright dirty tactics. To his credit, Maidana also showed some decent head movement in spots and, as was the case in the first fight, had success with the jab that felt surprising.
Mayweather had repeat success in attacking the body of Maidana and did a better job keeping himself off the ropes. His right hand was sharp and accurate and there were the typical ‘check’ hooks. He’s not as fast as he was at a more youthful 130-140 lbs., but he’s still quicker than just about everyone else.
There was wise conservation of his legs in spots and he couldn’t just dance all night. While he moved a lot early, the movement slowed down in the middle of the fight. When he fought Carlos Baldomir in 2006, Mayweather could still do that for almost all of twelve rounds. Saturday, he could do it enough to win.
That was enough.
After the fight, Mayweather entertained the idea of a Manny Pacquiao fight. Anyone still entertained by five years of that tease should have their head examined. Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, or Amir Khan sound far more probable. It remains to be seen if any of them can equal, or top, the success Maidana had in providing Mayweather with two nights of work.
Looking back a week, here are some overdue report cards for the excellent slate of fights fans were treated to in the week prior to “Mayhem.”
Pre-Fight: Speed – Akira Yaegashi A-; Roman Gonzalez B/Post: A-; B+
Pre-Fight: Power – Yaegashi B-; Gonzalez A/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Yaegashi B-; Gonzalez B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Yaegashi A; Gonzalez A/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Speed – Juan Francisco Estrada B; Giovani Segura B-/Post: B+; C+
Pre-Fight: Power – Estrada B; Segura A-/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Estrada B; Segura C/Post: B+; D+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Estrada A; Segura A/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Speed – Ruenroeng B+; Arroyo B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Ruenroeng C; Arroyo B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Ruenroeng B+; Arroyo B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Ruenroeng A; Arroyo B/Post: Same
The two best divisions in boxing right now are probably Welterweight and Flyweight. The seven days prior to Mayweather’s latest were a showcase for the little men in three countries.
The biggest win came in Japan as Gonzalez finally got his title shot (lineal/WBC) in the class and went through Akira Yaegashi. He took some shots in spots to get there against the quick fisted champion but may not have lost a round in the highly watchable, but mostly one-sided, battle. Gonzalez is to offensive skill what men like Mayweather and Rigondeaux are to defensive mentality. His combinations are Louis-esque and he might be the best body puncher in the sport. Yaegashi had never been stopped. Gonzalez dropped him twice, the first time on a single hook, and beat him up. Yaegashi was game to the end, but he was outgunned.
After Mayweather, Gonzalez looks as good as any fighter on Earth in any class and he’s a joy to watch. He’s already been at the title level across three classes for most of six years. We may be in for a long reign.
Or maybe not?
That answer will come if and when we see a rematch with Estrada. The unified (WBA/WBO) titlist notched his third defense with an absolute whipping of Segura. What looked like a potential firefight became scorched earth in Mexican affair. Segura could rarely break the guard of Estrada and was taking more fire than allowed much chance. Estrada seems to get better with each fight since his loss to Gonzalez for a 108 lb. title and their rematch is mouth watering.
Both in their prime, there is no better fight that can be made in 2015.
In a perfect world, the man who might be able to spoil either might not ever get the chance. In a class full of action delights, Thailand’s Rueenroeng is hard minded tactician who can frustrate the hell out of anyone. Punching, holding, and shoving his way to a close win at home over his fellow former Olympian Arroyo, it was the latest example of what makes the Thai titlist (IBF) so effective.
The fight was more exciting than Ruenroeng’s first two title fights through the first six rounds but, after rising from a knockdown, it got mugging and ugly. Arroyo left his guns in the holster too often and went home beltless. Ruenroeng is now looking to defend against China’s multiple Gold Medal winner Zou Shiming, the men already sharing an amateur rivalry. We’ll see if either creep into the bigger picture of the division from there.
Along with the Flyweights, there was a Jr. Featherweight rematch in Northern Ireland the Saturday before Mayweather-Maidana II.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Kiko Martinez B-; Carl Frampton B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Martinez B+; Frampton B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Defense – Martinez C+; Frampton B/Post: B-; B
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Martinez B+; Frampton B+/Post: B+; A
It was easier in terms of scoring than the first time around but Frampton’s bruised face and Martinez lasting the distance made clear this was no easy night. While he was able to drop Martinez again, Martinez didn’t stay down and Frampton fought like hell to keep him at bay down the stretch. He earned the IBF strap with superior speed and better punching, but he took enough shots to show the toughness underlying his effort.
The still undefeated Frampton is an exciting addition to the title ranks and should make good fights for as long as he can keep firing.
Report Card Picks 2014: 45-19 (Including Staff Picks for Soto-Molina, Santa Cruz-Roman, Vazquez-Bey, and Quigg-Jamoye)
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 [email protected]