Fights in this era of Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s career tend to go one of two ways—he either dominates from start to finish, or he sees past a tough, aggressive opponent by wearing him out and grinding it out in the late rounds.
Saturday's bout with Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas was the latter, and it allowed Mayweather once again to prove in the heat of one of his toughest moments that he is as resilient as they come in the sport of boxing.
The fight was billed just like most of Mayweather's recent bouts. He was the heavy favorite after picking his choice of opponents, and few expected anything other than a breezy win for Money May.
Three minutes after the opening bell, that was quickly a distant memory.
Maidana came out firing on all cylinders. He had Mayweather backpedaling and started wailing with reckless swings. The huge underdog had seemingly won the first round in convincing fashion and set the tempo.
Into the middle rounds, it was more of the same. Maidana continued to be the aggressor, and Mayweather kept backing up into the ropes. While he was finding jabs and connecting on counterpunches, he was no doubt behind after a fourth of the fight.
When Money May got cut above his right eye in the fourth round, things only seemed to worsen, and Mayweather looked as hurt as he has been in the recent history of his career. He needed a spark to pick himself back up.
And just as in Mayweather's toughest fights, he showed his resiliency by battling past his opponents in the late rounds.
Money May adjusted his game to avoid further damage and to avoid Maidana's big blows. In turn, El Chino's constant swinging and missing wore down a fighter who was already spent from swinging for the fences in all of the early rounds.
Smelling blood, the undefeated boxing star got into his element for the first time in Round 7. He began planting his feet and getting more power into his punches—which he was connecting at a much higher rate than Maidana. Mayweather's head-fakes and sound movement left his opponent coming up empty in the latter half of the fight.
After grinding out most of the final rounds, Mayweather left it up to the scorecards that gave Money May the tight majority decision.
The fight was every bit as tough as the judges' scorecards suggested, per ESPN's Dan Rafael:
Moments after the fight, after lauding the fight as one of the toughest he's had, Mayweather left it up to the fans for a rematch—CBS Sports' Gary Parrish added his two cents:
But if Mayweather ends up facing the promising Argentinian once more in 2014, or even down the road, it would be surprising to see a result any different than the one we saw Saturday night in MGM Grand.
Maidana proved to be a matchup nightmare for Mayweather in the sense that he could give the champion trouble if El Chino set the tone and bloodied him up early. That happened Saturday.
Then, he had to have enough in the tank to keep Mayweather from gaining control in the hypnotizing way he does. That didn't happen, and that's why Money May is now 46-0 instead of 45-1.
Like he did in a similarly tough 2012 fight with Miguel Cotto, Mayweather can handle the seemingly matchup nightmare of an aggressive opponent who possesses scary flurries of powerful blows.
In both fights, he was jumped on early. And in both fights, he ground out the win, showcasing his resiliency by battling through a strong-willed opponent and taking everything given to him.
In fact, on Saturday, Mayweather took more hits than in any other fight of his career, per Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, and still ended a resounding winner:
Mayweather wasn't given much from Maidana on Saturday night, but he took advantage. He stuck to his game plan, allowed Maidana to wear himself out and stayed clean enough to be able to see his performance peak in the later rounds.
The best active boxer in the world once again proved his worth, showing that it takes much more than what Maidana brought—which, at least Saturday, was enough to beat nearly any boxer on the planet—to beat Mayweather.
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