Floyd Mayweather looked his most human in years against Marcos Maidana. In doing so, he picked up what is one of the most impressive victories of his career when he beat the Argentine in Las Vegas.
Mayweather has made it a habit of thoroughly outclassing his opponents. His defensive skill is such that he is rarely dragged into any kind of brawl.
The combination of his slightly diminishing abilities and the offensive firepower of his opponent meant that Money was in for a long fight on Saturday night. He'd have to both absorb some heavy blows from Maidana and manage to land enough punches to impress the judges in order to pull through.
He did both of those things.
In turn, he managed to notch what will surely be one of the signature bouts of the later stage of his career.
While Mayweather wasn't dragged into a Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns-type slugfest, it was as much of a brawl as a Mayweather fight can be. Maidana threw a total of 858 punches, 221 of which found the mark, per Sho Stats:
#ShoStats: Total Punches Landed/Thrown thru 12 Mayweather [230/426, 53%] Maidana [221/858, 25%]— SHO Stats (@SHOStats) May 4, 2014
That's the most that have ever landed against Money May, per Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
CompuBox has tracked 38 Mayweather fights. Maidana landed the most punches (221) of any against Mayweather.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) May 4, 2014
After the win, Mayweather downplayed his opponent's abilities, per Showtime Boxing:
Floyd wants to go again right now. He just said "let's go put the ring back up."— SHOWTIME SPORTS (@SHOsports) May 4, 2014
No matter how much Money tries to say otherwise, he was in danger on Saturday night. Uncharacteristically, he found himself caught against the ropes, failing to deal with Maidana's somewhat unorthodox fighting style. There was also the cut above his right eye that affected his vision for a few rounds.
However, once again, Mayweather did Mayweather-like things, taking control around the sixth round and not looking back. By the end of the fight, you could only sit back in appreciation of how Money once again reacted and adapted.
Although we always love to see our legends in their prime, the moments in which they're most vulnerable often prove the more compelling. How the biggest stars adjust to adversity often separates the very good from the great.
That's what separates somebody like Muhammad Ali from Mike Tyson. Tyson burned bright for a short time, but his fall was swift and permanent. Ali, on the other hand, continued to be good well into his 30s. His performance against George Foreman is viewed as one of his best, despite the fact that he got his brains beat in for most of the fight.
What the fans remember most about "The Rumble in the Jungle" is that Ali devised a strategy that won him a seemingly un-winnable fight.
The odds weren't stacked against Mayweather in the same way on Saturday, but he was an aging fighter taking on somebody who had enough power to end the fight with one punch. Maidana also had the stamina to mount a sustained offensive, unlike some of Money's past opponents.
Nevertheless, Mayweather brushed him aside just as he has his previous 45 opponents.
Maybe someday Mayweather will bite off more than he can chew. Father Time will finally catch up with Money.
Until then, let's all bask in the twilight of one of the best boxers of his generation.