When Floyd Mayweather steps into a boxing ring, the sports world stops. He's such a polarizing figure that you can't help but be fascinated by everything he does. Pretty Boy's bout with Marcos Maidana was supposed to be a clean, simple affair where we celebrated his greatness afterward.
Instead, Maidana gave Mayweather quite the battle for 12 rounds. The outcome never felt like it was in doubt once the later rounds started, but early on, it looked as though history would be made.
The judges wound up scoring the fight for Mayweather in a majority decision, as they should have. He did exactly what he needed to by the rules of a round-by-round fight to win, so the perfect record and legacy remain as they were.
Despite the win, there are a lot of stories coming out of Mayweather's big win. Here are the biggest ones that we are looking at.
Floyd Mayweather is vulnerable, but...
No one was giving Maidana a chance to win this fight, both because he was an unproven challenger and was fighting the best boxer on the planet.
Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix didn't pull any punches about why Maidana had no chance to win the fight in a preview for the magazine:
Promoters have pushed the narrative that after beating Mayweather's protege, Adrien Broner, Maidana was ready to knock off the real thing. But Broner is to Mayweather what a Single-A prospect is to an MLB All-Star. Mayweather is stronger than Broner, faster and throws more punches. When Maidana comes forward, Mayweather will beat him back. When Maidana swings wildly, Mayweather will simply step out of the way...
A funny thing happened after the bell rang: Maidana found success hitting Mayweather. El Chino landed more punches than anyone ever has against Pretty Boy, according to CompuBox and Josh Slagter of MLive.com.
Who should Floyd Mayweather's next opponent be?
This would seem to indicate that Mayweather is vulnerable moving forward. After all, he is 37 years old and has taken a lot of physical abuse in his 46 professional fights.
However, there's a certain kind of opponent that can make Mayweather look vulnerable. A promoter can't throw just anyone in the ring expecting to get an upset.
Maidana, according to ESPN.com's Dan Rafael, bulked up to 165 pounds after the weigh-in on Friday. That was 17 pounds heavier than Mayweather when he entered the ring. So even with the size and power on his side, Maidana couldn't knock the champion down.
The opponent to defeat, or at least seriously challenge, Mayweather is someone who is naturally bigger with the ability to pressure him without getting overaggressive and leaving himself open to counterpunches.
There aren't many of those guys out there. Even Canelo Alvarez, arguably the No. 2 boxer in the world, couldn't get to Mayweather in their fight last September.
Marcos Maidana deserves a rematch, but not right away
Since Maidana was able to hang with Mayweather for 12 rounds, even earning a draw from one of the judges, there were cries for a rematch. It makes sense because who else is out there for Mayweather to fight that will give him a challenge?
(If you are saying Manny Pacquiao, stop. That fight's never going to happen, and Pacquiao hasn't been as effective recently.)
Mayweather said right after the fight, both in the ring and at the press conference, he would give Maidana another match if that's what he wanted.
"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
There might be a day when Maidana gets that rematch, but it shouldn't be right now. He got the first fight with Mayweather by defeating Adrien Broner, who was supposed to be a Mayweather clone.
It's obvious Broner was the victim of overhype, because who can live up to that kind of billing? Maidana needs to prove himself against other top-quality competition before stepping back in the ring with the best fighter in the world.
Boxing, like Hollywood movies, is too reliant on the sequel and franchising everything instead of taking a chance on something new. That's why Pacquiao has fought Juan Manuel Marquez four times, with the possibility of a fifth fight.
Maidana is just 30 years old and has plenty of fights left to keep building his stock in boxing. It's high right now after the fight with Mayweather, but a rematch isn't the right move for him or the sport.
Mayweather needs to challenge himself
One reason this fight was as close as it was is because Mayweather understood that Maidana is a boxer at a certain level who would need a perfect fight to have a chance at winning. It didn't happen, though Pretty Boy took more abuse than a lot of us figured.
Think back to last September when Mayweather fought Alvarez. That was one of the best performances of his career, with Tim Smith of Ring Magazine essentially calling it a glorified exhibition.
"At times the fight looked like nothing more than a $100 million sparring session," Smith wrote. "Alvarez, a 23-year-old Mexican icon, was swinging for the fences, but he whiffed more than he connected."
Maidana is a solid fighter who can rest comfortably on the second-tier boxing level for a long time, but that's not the kind of opponent Mayweather should have at this point in his career. He needs to be going for the biggest fights possible.
Danny Garcia, Amir Khan and Shawn Porter are names who should be on Mayweather's short list moving forward. Khan is starting to get his legs back under him with three consecutive wins after back-to-back losses.
Whatever Mayweather decides to do next, he has to pick an opponent who will keep him interested for the duration of a training camp and 12-round fight. It's a big commitment, and perhaps there isn't anyone out there like that right now.
Hopefully Mayweather can find someone, because boxing is so much more interesting when there's a real challenge for him.
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