The highly anticipated welterweight title bout between Marcos Maidana and Floyd Mayweather wasn't your average Money Mayweather title defense. Sure, the end result was the same as it's been in the champion's previous 45 fights, but this one tested Mayweather in ways fans have rarely seen him tested.
If you're a fan who thought this wouldn't be a bout worth watching it would be understandable. After all, Maidana isn't exactly a household name and entered the bout with three losses to his name already.
In terms of Mayweather's previous opponents, the Argentinian appeared to be your run-of-the-mill contender for Money's crown—a strong fighter, but nowhere near the class of boxing's biggest star.
However, that assumption was wrong. Maidana proved to be one of Mayweather's most difficult tests to date and nearly pulled off the huge upset. Fortunately for boxing fans who may have missed it, Showtime will be replaying the bout on a free preview weekend soon on the premium network:
Mayweather vs. Maidana & Khan vs. Collazo will replay Saturday at 9:30p as part of Showtime's Free Preview Weekend. #Boxing— SHOWTIME SPORTS (@SHOsports) May 4, 2014
Here's a look at what made this a memorable bout in the career of boxing's top star.
Maidana Comes Out Swinging
From the very beginning this looked like a bout that could become an instant classic.
El Chino knew his best chance to beat Mayweather was by bringing the fight to the champion, and that's exactly what he did. As Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports noted, he threw 100 punches in the first round:
Maidana threw 100 punches in that round. WOw #TheMoment— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) May 4, 2014
As usual with Mayweather, the vast majority of those 100 punches found their way to his shoulders, hands or even the air. But the sheer volume meant that some were making their way to Mayweather's head and body.
And that would prove to be a theme rather than an aberration as the fight wore on.
Even Mayweather Can Bleed
Through the first four rounds, Maidana continued to turn Mayweather's chess match into a street fight. The culmination of those efforts came when El Chino cut Money open in the fourth round in a moment that was reminiscent of King Leonidas proving that even a God-King could bleed in 300.
In 18 years of professional fighting, this is the first time Floyd Mayweather has been cut in a fight! #themoment— SHO_PR (@SHO_PR) May 4, 2014
Mayweather would later claim that the cut was caused by a head-butt:
Mayweather interview getting drowned out by boos at MGM Grand. Mayweather complaining that his cut came from a headbutt— Martin Rogers (@mrogersyahoo) May 4, 2014
Regardless of how the cut occurred, it created a memorable moment in the fight. Viewers knew then that Maidana's success wasn't a fluke. Mayweather was going to need to really work for the win. No coasting.
Mayweather Finds His Groove and Closes Out
It's an underrated quality, but Mayweather's ability to make adjustments is borderline genius. It's rare that Money is put in a position where he has to use the ability to change his game plan, but there are few in the sport who can match his ability to do so.
With Maidana mauling him against the ropes, Money moved the fight to the center of the ring. From there, Maidana's already inefficient attack was rendered even more inaccurate as Mayweather took over with his quickness and defense.
The change of approach from Mayweather not only gave him more space to work with to counter Maidana's advances, but led to more frustration for the fading Maidana.
From the middle rounds to the end Mayweather continued to swing the fight in his favor. By the end of the bout, Maidana still had his moments, but they were more about him bullying Mayweather around the ring and less about him landing actual clean shots.
Round 11: A scrappy round, Maidana throwing Mayweather around the ring, setting themselves up for an anticipated thrilling final round!— BoxNation (@boxnationtv) May 4, 2014
When the final scorecards were read there was a moment where it seemed as though Mayweather might not have his hand raised. The first score resulting in a draw was a tribute to just how close Maidana was able to make the fight:
Mike Pernick, 114-114, Burt Clments, 117-111 and Dave Moretti 116-112 for Mayweather.— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) May 4, 2014
However, the final two cards revealed the same ending that we've seen in all of Mayweather's fights. Money got his hand raised once again. The only difference this time will be that he now has a new rematch to promote.
With Mayweather getting pushed to the limit by Maidana, a rematch can be added to the short list of bouts that fans would love to see the 37-year-old be involved in. Other options might include a bout with Amir Khan, who scored a decisive decision victory in the undercard, or the long-awaited bout with Manny Pacquiao.
Regardless of what direction Money decides to go next, this is a bout that will go down as one of the most gutsy performances of his career.