Floyd Mayweather had to weather an early storm of furious, quick punching combinations from Marcos Maidana in this last Saturday's fight at Las Vegas' MGM Grand. Although Money enhanced his perfect record to 46-0 with a victory by majority decision, El Chino proved that Mayweather can be had.
A rematch is something Maidana should lobby for incessantly, but Mayweather may want to be a bit wary in pursuing that avenue.
Although both fighters would have the advantage of making tactical adjustments, the ability Maidana displayed to absorb punishment over 12 grueling rounds bodes well for a prospective second encounter. Maidana was given little chance to succeed in going up against one of the better pound-for-pound boxers in recent history.
But the Argentine was unfazed by the big stage and made Mayweather look like a shell of himself early on. It led to a rather close consensus final tally, as Steve Kim alluded to:
The consensus seems to be 7-5( in rounds) for either Mayweather or Maidana last night. Bottom line, it was a close, hard fight #boxing— Steve Kim (@stevemaxboxing) May 4, 2014
What wasn't close was the level of execution, as SHO Stats alluded to the far better precision Mayweather had in landing punches:
#ShoStats: Total Punches Landed/Thrown thru 12 Mayweather [230/426, 53%] Maidana [221/858, 25%]— SHO Stats (@SHOStats) May 4, 2014
Those numbers suggest that Mayweather proved his edge in experience and in being able to fend off even the most aggressive blitzes by his opponent. Chances are, though, Maidana has laid the groundwork for how to finally topple Money.
A mix of an attacking mindset and perhaps a little more discretion from Maidana seems like an ideal way to approach Mayweather, who seems to have lost at least a little bit of his quickness and skill in the ring. There has been a trend of Money's fights going the full 12 rounds, as ESPN Stats & Info pointed out:
Floyd Mayweather def. Marcos Maidana, 2nd straight win via majority decision for Floyd, 4th straight Mayweather fight to go full 12 rounds.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 4, 2014
This may have been Mayweather's toughest test to date, but he's still open to a rematch with Maidana—on the condition that there's a different referee than Tony Weeks—per ESPN's Dan Rafael:
Floyd says if there's a rematch he doesn't want Tony Weeks as ref. Complaining he let Maidana get away with too much. #MayweatherMaidana— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) May 4, 2014
The fact that Mayweather is blaming the officiating for some of his plight and adversity versus Maidana suggests that he may not be quite as confident as usual about preserving his perfect record in the future. It's hard to blame him, because losing hasn't often been a feasible possibility, but in the beginning of The Moment, he had to have his doubts. The American superstar has acknowledged that his foe put up a strong fight, too.
Perhaps he's trying to inflate the value of Maidana as an opponent, or maybe he is admitting that he is indeed in for a tough bout if and when he takes the ring with Maidana again.
Whatever the case may be, Mayweather could dismiss a lot of his detractors by squaring off with Maidana for a second time and dominating him.
That's going to be easier said than done if their first encounter serves as any forecast for what's to come. Maidana appears confident, eager and determined to battle Money, per Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix:
Maidana, through a translator, says something along lines of "Just give me a fu--ing rematch." Maidana is not big on press conference banter— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) May 4, 2014
Who is most capable of beating Floyd Mayweather?
Whether it's Maidana, Amir Khan or the dream scenario in which Manny Pacquiao is on deck as his next opponent, Mayweather looks as beatable as he ever has in his professional career. Maidana brought that to the surface, with the wear and tear Mayweather has taken in his past four bouts perhaps taking a toll on him as he tries to move forward without a loss.
Mayweather's mystique is suddenly not as striking, but he will still be a massive pay-per-view draw regardless of how he performs or who he faces in September. Since Khan seems out of the question due to Ramadan and Pacquiao is innately unlikely, Maidana seems the only suitable adversary left.
That has to have Mayweather and his camp feeling vulnerable.