It might not have been anywhere near the domination many expected, but people don't call Floyd Mayweather "Money" for nothing.
Mayweather earned his 46th consecutive professional win Saturday night against Marcos Maidana, defeating the well-prepared upstart in a majority decision despite some displeasure from the MGM Grand Crowd. Judge Michael Pernick scored the fight a 114-114 draw, while Burt Clements (117-111) and Dave Moretti (116-112) turned in cards that allowed Mayweather to win the WBA (Super) Welterweight title.
Even in a loss, Maidana was undoubtedly the moral victor. He drew raucous cheers from the crowd for his aggressive, in-your-face fighting style, taking Mayweather out of his comfort zone with a constant barrage of punches from the opening bell.
The underdog, who came in at 13-2 odds, per Odds Shark, threw 858 punches—more than double Mayweather's total. While Mayweather outlanded him by nine, it could be argued Maidana dictated the pace of the fight. Mayweather was never able to get comfortable enough to relax or break down his strategy the way he had against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in September.
"If I had my gloves, I would've knocked him out," Maidana told reporters, referring to a pre-fight controversy in which Mayweather requested he switch to a different glove. "He never hurt me with a punch. He wasn't even that tough. I thought I won the fight. I feel like (the decision) was an injustice."
Injustice the result was not. For all of the excitement about Maidana's fighting style and his making Mayweather bleed his own blood, boxing is not scored based on who makes you clap the hardest. Mayweather took advantage of Maidana's over-aggression to land more than half his punches. The cut over Money's eye was matched with one for Maidana. The objectively trained eye could not in good conscious have scored seven rounds in Maidana's favor.
"I thought that I was a boxer and he was a WWE wrestler," Mayweather said after the fight. "That's what I thought."
At the very least, it was a decidedly more interesting fight than anyone could have expected. While Mayweather-Alvarez was hyped for months and billed as a clash of two titanic forces in the boxing world, the pre-fight excitement for Saturday night was comparatively minimal.
Mayweather took to public compliments over degradation, which is typically the easiest way to tell when he doesn't take a fighter seriously. Floyd had to over-sell Maidana because he wasn't sure that anyone—or even that he—thought for a second that the underdog had a chance. Maidana was coming off an upset win over Adrien Broner, but few expected the 30-year-old Argentine with losses to Amir Khan and Devon Alexander to have much of a chance against boxing royalty.
Even the financials of the fight spelled a more modest arrangement than the one fans received. Mayweather was guaranteed $32 million to fight Maidana, with his final total being determined by the pay-per-view numbers. While an exorbitant one-night haul, that guarantee is nearly $10 million less than the record-setting number for his win over Alvarez. It was equal to Mayweather's guarantee in his first Showtime fight against Robert Guerrero last May.
Maidana, meanwhile, was guaranteed a piddly $1.5 million as part of his contract. For contrast Broner, who defeated Carlos Molina on the undercard, received a fee of roughly $1.25 million. Even for someone with a lack of national clout, Maidana's haul seemed jarringly low. It was half of the total Guerrero, himself semi-anonymous nationally before fighting Mayweather, received for his unanimous decision loss.
|Robert Guerrero||$3 million|
|Saul "Canelo" Alvarez||$5 million|
|Marcos Maidana||$1.5 million|
From the outside, a precedent seemed set. Mayweather would fight a contract-obligated boutique bout and skate to victory in the spring before having a true prizefight befitting his status in September. Maidana would get popped in the face for 36 consecutive minutes, collect the biggest paycheck of his career and ride out the next couple years on a high-publicity wave.
You find yourself in the Mayweather crosshairs, you keep your head down, know your place and leave a much richer man.
Maidana seemingly just wasn't satisfied playing along. Even in his relative inaccuracy, Maidana landed the most punches in history against Mayweather, per Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix. The post-fight mood was not one of celebratory handshakes for Mayweather and a knowing, sullen consolation of Maidana. Instead, many—including Maidana—were ready to do it all over again.
"We can take it back down there right now if you want," Mayweather said. "Put the ring back up…It's not a problem. If he feels he won, we can do it again in September."
Maidana fought great but, to be honest, I don't need a rematch.— Brian Campbell (@BCampbellESPN) May 4, 2014
A rematch would not fall in line with the typical Mayweather pattern. The last time he fought an opponent on back-to-back occasions was Jose Luis Castillo in 2002. Mayweather has typically preferred going against guys once, which has arguably helped him extend his undefeated streak as long as he has. Going back to Maidana might well be a step too far in the risk direction for someone who values that streak so dearly.
Other opponents like Manny Pacquiao, the Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto winner or Amir Khan might be more appealing to his camp when it's time to schedule the September bout. If those options fall through or Showtime pressures Mayweather for a big-time pay-per-view extravaganza akin to Alvarez, Maidana may be the only option.
One thing is clear: He won't come so cheap next time around.
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