A fight many had written off once announced, Floyd Mayweather's bout with Marcos Maidana Saturday turned out to be an entertaining tilt with twists and turns worthy of the silver screen.
Mayweather still emerged the victor, but even he seemed rather content with the first real challenge he's had in quite some time, as captured by Showtime Sports:
Instead of getting into the semantics of what some allege to be a controversial result and the propensity for a rematch, let's instead take the time to appreciate some of the fight's memorable moments.
An Early Onslaught from Maidana
Predictable? As sure as the sunrise. Entertaining? Absolutely.
Maidana came out firing on all cylinders and had the look of a winner early on, as he pinned Mayweather against the ropes and went to work thanks to his weight advantage.
In fact, Maidana wowed onlookers by posting 100 punches in the opening round:
Through four rounds, it was clear the two were evenly matched, but it was apparent Maidana wouldn't be able to keep pace. Still, it was fun while it lasted and showed us a vulnerable side of Mayweather that really hadn't been seen before.
Things got chippy rather fast. Maidana was the aggressor for most of the night, punching through clinches, taking shots below the belt and even at one point seemingly attempting to deliver a knee shot during a clinch.
But most important to the outcome of the fight was an "incidental" headbutt delivered by Maidana in the fourth, which opened up Mayweather for the first time in his career.
SportsCenter detailed the moment:
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix captured how the new experience impacted Mayweather in the fourth and fifth rounds:
Mayweather's corner did superb work on the problematic area, and the cut became a non-factor from the seventh round onward, but it was still a strange experience for Mayweather and viewers.
While the headbutt was given a pass in the "dirty" department, it's hard to defend Maidana for an outright tackle in the later rounds of the fight.
Down on the scorecard and on an island in the middle of the ring, Maidana put his head down and simply drove Mayweather into the ropes before forward momentum pushed Money through, almost causing him to fall out of the ring entirely and onto the tables below.
Surely a reaction to being clinched consistently and losing the overall fight, Maidana's actions were tough to defend. It didn't garner a mental edge, as Mayweather popped right back up and stuck in the fight until the end.
Speaking of which...
The decision itself is the subject of some scrutiny. ESPN's JE Sanchez provided a look at the official scorecards:
As Mannix notes, the crowd wasn't too thrilled with the outcome:
Which makes sense, as Maidana threw more than 850 punches. While he hardly landed more than 25 percent of those, he had the look of the fighter on the offensive for most of the night. One judge calling it a draw and two others in favor of Mayweather is about right, but the general public clearly saw something else.
The overarching point here is rather simple—it has been a very, very long time since Mayweather's undefeated record has gone to the scorecards and been a bit of an unknown. As it should, the decision turned out to be the most thrilling portion of the night's festivities.