Extending his unbeaten career streak to 46 wins didn't come easily for Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Saturday, as Marcos Maidana put up a stiffer contest in the majority decision result than many had predicted.
The fight featured pros and cons for both camps, with the positives generally outweighing the negatives for each fighter in what proved to be an incredibly tight matchup for long periods.
Mayweather took his share of damage on the way to unifying the WBA and WBC welterweight titles, in a fight that produced a sample of talking points—good and bad—for both competitors.
Right: Clinical Punching
Despite what his glossy lifestyle may suggest in the personal realm, Mayweather isn't a wasteful being when it comes to matters in the ring, and it was this aspect of his fighting persona that again shone against Maidana.
As CompuBox show (h/t Mike Chehade of Skee), "Money" was by far the more accurate of the two fighters, throwing a little more than half the amount of punches as his opponent but managing to land more:
Presenter Piers Morgan was in agreement with the two judges' decisions to elect Mayweather his victory, the third official scoring the bout as a 114-114 draw:
It's not about punches THROWN...it's about punches LANDED. Mayweather won. End.— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) May 4, 2014
Without wasting energy and instead placing more faith in his hands doing their intended job, the veteran was calm and collected in attack, playing a pragmatic strategy that bore fruit.
Wrong: Glutton For Punishment
Conversely, however, that tactic could have so easily worked against Mayweather, and were it another enemy in the other corner he may have found himself on the losing side of the result.
That's not to say Money's defensive game isn't up to par in helping him evade the very best in the sport right now, but allowing his opponent to throw more than 800 punches could have led to a first career loss, however good his evasion skills may be.
Instead, the 37-year-old may look to enforce a more assault-like game himself for periods of his future bouts, not necessarily going all out as Maidana did, but at least asserting stretches of attacking dominance as he continues to mature.
Right: Taking The Initiative
Allowing Mayweather to take an early upper hand would have been suicide in Las Vegas on Saturday, so it was sensible of "El Chino" to put his enemy on the back foot early on at the MGM Grand.
As long as his conditioning is enough to handle the workload, this was the only logical scenario in a fight that didn't have many of them—making the best of a difficult decision.
Golf superstar Luke Donald was quick to praise the Argentine for his early work:
Maidana won the early rounds, Mayweather controlled the last half of the fight. They'll give it to Mayweather #MayweatherMaidana— Luke Donald (@LukeDonald) May 4, 2014
It may have withered as the fight raged on, but at some stages even the great Mayweather looked caged, finding it hard to get out of the tight spaces in which he has so often revelled during his career.
Wrong: Fast, Furious, But Not Always Effective
As previously mentioned, Maidana was in no need of help when it came to the task of throwing punches, but there's little point in doing so if they aren't causing any damage.
That being said, as Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tells, Maidana succeeded in landing more punches against Mayweather than any other boxer in the American's last 38 fights:
CompuBox has tracked 38 Mayweather fights. Maidana landed the most punches (221) of any against Mayweather.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) May 4, 2014
Granted, the South American was up against arguably one of the best parrying figures that the weight class has ever seen, but accuracy and precision were too often sacrificed in what edged toward a brawling mentality at times.
Future fights may see Maidana opt to reserve some strength and concentrate more on his own defense and settle for more potent power punching, rather than going for quantity over quality.