Saturday night in Las Vegas was the perfect example of why even the most lopsided of bouts on paper must occur, as Marcos Maidana stepped into the ring and fearlessly assaulted Floyd Mayweather until the bitter end.
It was ugly. Sometimes it was dirty. Mostly it was entertaining and quite revealing.
Look at Maidana. We quickly learned that, after struggling his way through a few fights, his recent upset victory over Adrien Broner was no fluke. He stood tall, threw 100 punches alone in Round 1 against Mayweather and split the first four rounds before getting gassed.
Of course, Maidana was unwilling to accept the fact he was routinely whipped by Mayweather in Round 4 onward. He said in the post-fight interview he won the fight in his mind, and later he told the media, via Sam Farmer of the L.A. Times, that he was "robbed" of a victory:
Let's play nice, call this an agree-to-disagree scenario and move on to the bigger picture—Maidana is clearly one of the sport's new stars. He may very well get another shot at Mayweather in the coming months, but even if he doesn't, he doesn't need it.
Look at Canelo Alvarez. He got embarrassed in his fight with Mayweather. He's struggling to headline his own cards because of it. Maidana won't have that issue because he has sold the general public on the idea that he almost downed Mayweather. His supremely aggressive style lends the idea—accuracy be darned—that he's in control, and that will sell pay-per-view buys on its own.
All that considered, Maidana certainly wants another shot at Mayweather. He said so quite colorfully, per David Mayo of MLive:
Maidana: "Enough words, just give me the f---ing rematch."— David Mayo (@David_Mayo) May 4, 2014
Fans and Maidana will have to wait around aimlessly for a bit before Mayweather picks his next opponent.
In the meantime, both parties can focus on quite a revelation itself from Mayweather's corner—like a certain Pac Man, his performance is in the early stages of deterioration thanks to age.
Fans will disagree, and it's certainly a tough sell, but it was strange seeing Mayweather so dazed at times in the face of an opponent who touts a skill set he so routinely walloped in the past.
Let's not mention the fact Mayweather was cut for the first time in his career for more than a blurb because it came via an illegal headbutt, but it was perplexing to see Mayweather shocked to see his own blood in an almost humorous sort of way.
Mayweather (45-0, 26 knockouts) gave voice to that concern on Tuesday, admitting he considers retiring from the sport on a near daily basis. He could even step away after Saturday's welterweight unification match with Marcos Maidana (34-3, 31 knockouts) at the MGM Grand on Showtime PPV, he said. It was perhaps the first time that Mayweather, 37, had ever publicly uttered the idea of walking away following a fight.
"I'm not really worried about [GOING 50-0]," he told reporters. "I'm being honest- I be contemplating every day... getting out of the sport now. I'm very comfortable. Very comfortable."
None of this is meant to bash Mayweather or his skills, he still whipped Maidana by routinely connecting on more than 50 percent of his punches in a round and evading quite literally 75 percent of what the slugger had to throw his way.
But there is some semblance of concern. Mayweather struggled a bit, but he played it off after the fight like he was just toying with his opponent for the entertainment of the fans, as Sports Illustrated's Tom Mantzouranis points out:
Leave it to Floyd Mayweather to make it seem like he struggled a little last night on purpose to entertain the fans.— Tom Mantzouranis (@themantz) May 4, 2014
Either way, it's impossible to argue that Mayweather hasn't aged incredibly well considering he just won fight No. 46 at 37 years old. There are a few noticeable issues starting to crop up that were on display, but Mayweather clearly has the juice to get to 50-0—if he wants to fight four more times.
Regardless, what was expected to be a timid, one-sided affair has revealed more about the future of the sport than any could have predicted.