In one of the most exciting fights of his recent career, undefeated American champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (46-0, 26 KOs) was taken to his physical limit by Marcos Maidana (35-4, 31 KOs) on Saturday night.
The majority decision victory for Mayweather was earned in this main event, but Maidana found far more success breaking through the champion’s defense than most other fighters who have stood toe-to-toe against Money.
According to Case Keefer of the Las Vegas Sun, a rematch between the fighters looks imminent.
With a potential second chapter in this battle likely happening in the fall, here are the keys to victory for both fighters heading into what would be a highly anticipated rematch.
Mayweather’s Key to Success
There was no questioning Mayweather’s defensive game plan coming into Saturday’s fight, but Maidana made serious waves by breaking through the defense early and landing several heavy shots on the once-impervious champion.
Mayweather would once again have to commit to defense in an eventual rematch. With Maidana attacking early and often, the key for Mayweather will be using a more effective counterpunch.
After the fight, Mayweather told Allan Fox of BoxingNews24.com about the lack of power he saw in the punches he was being attacked with in the main event:
Miguel Cotto was a tougher fighter and he hit harder. Canelo hit harder than him…I could have made this fight absolutely easy but it would have been boring, and I didn’t want to do that for the fans. These fans are paying serious money to come out here and support boxing. He was the guy who was holding me with one hand and hitting me with another; he was the guy who was trying to knee me. I thought I was a boxer and he was a WWE wrestler.
El Chino likes to get in close and wrestle his opponents while landing hard punches to the body and head. Money must do his best to keep his opponent at a distance by stinging him with overhand punches from the defensive position.
With Mayweather’s stiff shots keeping Maidana at a respectable distance, the undefeated champion would find ample opportunities to avoid the challenger’s wild punches and hit him with the dangerous counterpunches that have brought him this far.
Maidana’s Key to Success
In one of the most shocking first rounds in recent memory, Maidana attacked Mayweather with a ferocity fans didn’t see in the Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez fight and had the American star on the ropes.
Maidana began landing looping overhead punches and breaking through Mayweather’s defensive game plan. The reason Money was forced to adjust in this fight was due to Maidana thwarting the initial decision to let the challenger get close and throw a steady stream of punches.
The success of the Argentinean fighter has already started to irritate Mayweather, and the undefeated champion and his challenger verbally sparred in the post-fight press conference, according to Gary Parrish of CBS Sports, Dan Rafael of ESPN and David Mayo of MLive.com:
"If the fans want to see it again we can do it again." -- Floyd Mayweather (So the rematch comes later this year.)— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) May 4, 2014
Maidana: "Enough words, just give me the f---ing rematch."— David Mayo (@David_Mayo) May 4, 2014
If the rematch does indeed come to fruition, the only focus for Maidana should be improving his conditioning and stamina a bit more to sustain the pressure he put on Mayweather to start the fight throughout the 12-round battle.
With a unique mix of power in both hands, willingness to take damage and keep attacking and the speed to capitalize on Mayweather’s few mistakes, Maidana must focus on keeping that pace throughout the fight to earn a victory over the champion.
Rematch Prediction: Mayweather Wins via Unanimous Decision
Mayweather is one of the greatest fighters of all time, and one of the reasons he's reached that level of success is his ability and willingness to adapt and change with the times.
Which fighter would win the rematch?
Money will be determined to answer all the doubters.
With his age—Mayweather is now 37 years old—and the wear and tear of fighting for almost 20 years, the undefeated champion will do whatever it takes to avoid taking that much damage from Maidana in the second fight.
Mayweather would steal the decision win with crisp counterstriking and elite defense.
*Stats via BoxRec.com.