Marcos Maidana didn’t win the fight, at least not on the judges’ cards (117-111, 116-112, 114-114). But he made it crystal clear that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is beatable.
And while some fans are no doubt rooting for Mayweather to get to that magical 50-0 record, no one wants to see him reach that statistical pinnacle via a waltz.
So heck yes, give Maidana a rematch and make Mayweather earn his way to the half-century mark.
I don’t know what fight was being watched by the two judges who gave Mayweather a lopsided victory. Maybe they were out playing the slots at the MGM Grand during the early rounds, when Maidana was bringing down the house.
The Argentinian was far from accurate with everything he threw—CompuBox had 221-of-858 punches landed for Maidana (26 percent); 230-of-426 for Mayweather (54 percent)—but his steady barrages kept Mayweather pinned to the ropes, taking punishment in a way we've seldom seen.
Mayweather was finally up against a brawler, a guy who throws damaging blows from every geometric angle Euclid ever pondered. And at times, Mayweather looked as if he had no idea this was what would be coming his way. It was almost as if he prepared for this bout by watching video of the wrong opponent.
No matter how one feels about the result, that pay-per-view gave fans an actual fight for a change. Too much of what we’ve seen from Mayweather has been all about finesse and artfulness, and void of good old roundhouse slugging.
Maidana went at it so fiercely early that he raised suspicions he would punch himself out, but it never happened. He did take the sixth round off, fighting lazily, but then got right back on it after getting admonished by his corner.
Mayweather should be feeling fortunate that he rules the fight game at the moment. In a sport that’s lacking marquee talent, he can dictate the terms and keep every bout in his Las Vegas backyard.
But if this fight had taken place anywhere south of the equator, in front of a Latino audience, the outcome might have been different. As it was, plenty of Maidana supporters showed up and let it be known they thought the majority decision was basura. Garbage.
In their eyes, Mayweather was the beaten man in this welterweight title-unification bout.
Mayweather owned the action in the center of the ring, but the majority of this fight was spent with him on the ropes.
There, he was assaulted by overhand punches, especially in the early rounds. I thought Maidana built an early lead that would at least have him even or close to it at the end of the fight.
And I found myself nodding in agreement with Maidana post-fight as he was interviewed in the ring by Showtime’s Jim Gray.
Asked whether he thought a rematch against Floyd Mayweather was in order, Maidana humorously took the posture of the one who would make that decision, as if he had won.
"Yes, I will give him a rematch," Maidana said. "I'm not scared of him. So why not give him a rematch?"
Spoken like a man who at times bullied Mayweather and kept him corralled and unable to make his patented lateral escapes. At times, Mayweather relied on referee Tony Weeks more than his punching power, asking Weeks to intercede when he got tangled on the ropes.
Maidana also laid down the gauntlet immediately afterward.
"I definitely thought I won this fight," Maidana told Gray, via an interpreter. "Floyd did not fight like a man, like I thought he would."
Asked by Gray to expand on that, Maidana added: "Those other fighters respected him and didn’t go toe-to-toe with him."
No matter where your rooting interest was in this fight, you have to agree with that; Maidana stands out as the one relatively recent Mayweather opponent who came in determined to throw everything he had and take his chances.
The last time an American audience saw an Argentinian put on this type of show might have been way back when Diego Maradona was the world’s greatest soccer player. But unlike Maradona, Maidana didn’t need any “hand of God” helping him through his biggest moment.
Maidana was in full control of what his fists were doing, and a different panel of judges might have given the work they did far more credit. If there is a rematch, it no doubt will be seen at least a little differently by those who score it.
Maidana came in as such a huge underdog that it may have required a couple of rounds for him to be taken seriously.
Boxing has the unwritten rule that a champ must be truly beaten in order to have his title taken away. And even though both fighters brought titles to this matchup, Mayweather and his undefeated record give him a singular prestige in boxing.
But it might not be like that next time around, which would make for a fairer outcome.
Asked if he’d go for a rematch, Mayweather was all smiles.
"If the fans want to see it again, we can do it again," Mayweather said.
But saying that is one thing, and doing it is another. And if Mayweather wants fans to believe he’s willing to earn that illustrious 50-0 record, a rematch with Maidana is the best way to do it.
Tom Weir covered numerous championship fights as a columnist for USA Today.