When Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana inevitably have a second fight, Mayweather will have to take more control and be the aggressor.
The technically excellent, surgical Money was not supposed to have this much trouble with Maidana, a power fighter seemingly bereft of conventional boxing training. Mayweather would evade the haymakers, hit Maidana with counters and leave the ring with a breezy victory.
Instead, Mayweather escaped with a majority decision that actually overstates his accomplishments in the bout.
Per Bob Velin of USA Today, the feeling ringside was that the boxers were much closer than the scorecards indicated. Burt Clements gave Mayweather a 117-111 edge, and Dave Moretti favored him 116-112, but Maidana actually dictated the action for most of the match.
The 30-year-old challenger came after Mayweather with righty overhand after righty overhand—big, slow punches that aimed not to knock their target off balance but to pound him straight into the mat. Normally, Money would have plenty of time to dodge the power attempts and strike back himself, eventually taking control as his opponent tired and staggered.
A funny thing happened on Saturday, May 3: Maidana just kept throwing punches. Per CompuBox (via Velin), he threw 858 throughout the match, compared to just 425 for Mayweather.
Now, Mayweather threw half as many punches, but he was twice as accurate, landing 230 to Maidana's 221. It's a testament to Mayweather's accuracy that we was able to hit so often without actually halting his opponent's perpetual assault, but that's the key here: In the 38 Mayweather matches for which CompuBox has kept statistics, no one has connected with him as often as Maidana did.
Less than eight months ago, Money spent much less time on the ropes and more time in control as he earned a majority decision over a more formidable opponent in Canelo Alvarez. So has Mayweather lost a step since then?
It stands to reason that age is at least partially a factor here. Maidana's offense was just too slow to believe Mayweather couldn't have more effectively neutralized it as the fight progressed. The 37-year-old champ did gain some ground and wound up making more of his punches than Maidana did, but he won within the dictates his opponent established rather than taking over himself.
Granted, Maidana deserves some credit for his ultra-unorthodox style.
Mayweather always sizes up his opponents at the beginning of matches, identifying their strengths and weaknesses and adapting to the best possible attack. It's possible that Maidana was just such a bizarre sort of brawler that Mayweather couldn't totally figure him out.
But he never stopped Maidana from getting what he wanted. Mayweather looked more like himself when Maidana began to tire, and they found themselves off the ropes more, but when Maidana forced him to the periphery, Mayweather got trapped there.
He can't let that happen next time—and there surely will be a next time. Per Velin, the two ended up jawing at each other during their post-fight conference, with Maidana demanding a rematch and Mayweather offering his September showtime date.
When they meet again, Mayweather will have a better sense of his opponent, and he'll be able to come out faster against him. Money doesn't have to be the aggressor to get Maidana on the ropes; he just needs to keep his target in the center of the ring and prevent Maidana from cornering him.
A younger Mayweather could do that without breaking a sweat. It's unclear how much effort this iteration of Money will have to exert, but he still has the capability to make Maidana box him rather than rain punches on him.