Floyd Mayweather has stepped into a boxing ring for 46 fights as a professional and he's emerged victorious every single time. Unheralded challenger Marcos Maidana attempted to bring Money's impressive undefeated streak to an end Saturday night by making a major statement in the biggest fight of his career so far. Although he failed to do so, the fight was far closer than most expected.
Sports Illustrated's Bryan Armen Graham gives a look at the judges' final scoring:
Floyd Mayweather MD 12 Marcos Maidana. 114-114, 117-111, 116-112.— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) May 4, 2014
ESPN's JE Sanchez provided the full round-by-round scorecard from the judges:
Tarjeta oficial. pic.twitter.com/iq5nSVfG5g— JESanchez (@JESanchez_ESPN) May 4, 2014
Mayweather, who is known for toying with many of his opponents during his career, was already coming off a win by majority decision over Saul Alvarez. Although neither fight would be classified as Mayweather's best performance, he was in more control during the Alvarez fight and was never in serious danger of losing.
Maidana was actually a different kind of challenge for Mayweather and had Money literally on the ropes in the opening rounds. BoxNation provided a statement from Maidana following the decision:
"He dominated some rounds, but I dominated most of them. I went after him, but he's a difficult fighter. I want the rematch!" @ChinoMaidana— BoxNation (@boxnationtv) May 4, 2014
The Argentine sported a 35-3 career record with 31 knockouts prior to the majority-decision loss to Mayweather. He too was coming off a very strong showing against Adrien Broner, who defeated Carlos Molina in convincing fashion earlier Saturday night. The Broner-Maidana fight really brought Maidana to the forefront in terms of earning the opportunity to take on the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
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Coming in to the championship fight, Maidana was best known for his power. Although he didn't come close to knocking out Mayweather, he certainly brought the fight to Money in the opening rounds. He has shown the ability to deliver some very heavy shots, often to the body early in a fight before attacking the chin for the knockout, and he put that strategy to use throughout the bout.
As his aforementioned record and knockout total shows, it's been an effective approach for him. Although he lost the fight, this proved to be a strategy with the potential of upsetting Mayweather as evident by the majority-decision ruling.
What made the Broner fight so impressive for him was that he showed he can last 12 rounds against a solid opponent. All three of his career losses at the time had come by decision, which raised questions about him finding ways to win if he wasn't able to score the KO.
Though he now has four losses by decision, Maidana was able to prove that he could stand toe-to-toe for 12 full rounds against the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world. In fact, following the fight, it seemed as if Maidana could go a few more rounds with Mayweather.
Maidana has finally answered questions surrounding his game. Moving forward, this string of solid and entertaining performances will only boost his confidence. It is evident, especially from the Mayweather fight, that Maidana has what it takes to be a major player in the world of boxing.
Before the fight, Martin Rogers of Yahoo! Sports passed along Maidana's response to comments Top Rank promoter Bob Arum made about Mayweather choosing to fight a major underdog over a potential bout with Manny Pacquiao:
It doesn't frighten me what Bob Arum has to say. A lot of times I have been the underdog and won fights. Bob Arum should know better than that.
He is just trying to prevent us from having a great night and a great pay-per-view. I am training to beat Floyd Mayweather and after I do that no one will be saying that he takes easy fights anymore.
The biggest key for Maidana early in the fight was controlling his emotions. This was his chance to make a name for himself on a huge stage. He couldn't afford to start swinging wildly and looking for the one-punch knockout, or else Mayweather would have dominated him early in the fight. Maidana may have come out swinging, but he was able to keep his emotions in check throughout in order to force the majority decision to the surprise of many fans.
Maidana relied on a steady flurry of punches, filled with body shots, in an attempt to wear Mayweather down. However, Mayweather made adjustments throughout the fight and was able to counter Maidana with punches of his own. By the end of the bout, Mayweather had landed more punches than Maidana and at a higher percentage to secure the victory.
Mayweather has boxed every type of opponent during his extended and ongoing stretch of victories, always finding a way to come out on top. The reason for that was summed up prior to the fight by Myron Medcalf of ESPN:
People don't like @FloydMayweather because he refuses to brawl. But that's why he refuses to brawl. He's undefeated because he boxes.— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) April 13, 2014
Mayweather is a master of adaptation. He enters a fight with a game plan and a firm understanding of what his opponent is likely to do. In this case, he must have expected a barrage of early shots from the powerful Maidana. Still, he was able use his strong defensive ability to thwart any and all knockout attempts.
Maidana hadn't faced a fighter of Mayweather's caliber prior to this bout. Everything he's done in the past against lesser fighters in order to secure a knockout likely wasn't going to work against Mayweather. Though a knockout may have been Maidana's best opportunity to secure a convincing win, he proved his own by forcing an outcome much closer than anticipated, as the scorecard shows.
In the end, Maidana proved he deserved this opportunity against Mayweather by forcing the fight to go the distance. It was always difficult to imagine him outscoring Mayweather, but by the end of the fight, he had fans convinced there was a shot he could win. In the future, opponents will never be able to take Maidana lightly.
If Maidana should fight Mayweather again in a rematch, there will be more eyes focused on Maidana possibly taking down the undefeated champion.