Floyd Mayweather's victory over Marcos Maidana was an excellent display of fighters with two very different styles of boxing. The crafty, defensive Mayweather withstood the furious, bull-rushing style of Maidana over 12 hard-fought rounds. The bout was a close one, and talks of a potential rematch began almost as soon as the fight was over. Both fighter's could benefit from a change in strategy should they meet again.
Maidana needs to slow down and show he is more of a boxer than a brawler, while Mayweather would do well to move the fight off the ropes next time.
Maidana was able to cut off Mayweather's movement and force him into the ropes on numerous occasions during the fight. Mayweather is excellent defensively in any position, but against the barrage of punches Maidana unleashed, he spent more time on the ropes than he would have liked.
ESPN's Robert Flores noted the difference in Mayweather's ring position from previous bouts.
Round 8 close, I think Mayweather landed cleaner punches. Most I've seen him fight with his back against ropes in a while. #TheMoment— Robert Flores (@RoFloESPN) May 4, 2014
It also allowed Maidana to throw an unbelievable amount of punches as compared to Mayweather, as Showtime Stats pointed out after the match.
#ShoStats: Total Punches Landed/Thrown thru 12 Mayweather [230/426, 53%] Maidana [221/858, 25%]— SHO Stats (@SHOStats) May 4, 2014
Mayweather's adjustments took him away from the center of the ring, although he insists the adjustments were by his design. Via Joseph Santoliquito of CBS Philadelphia:
“I always make the adjustments,” he said. “That’s the difference between me and every other fighter. Normally, I box and move. Finally, I was in a tough, competitive fight. Tonight, I wanted to stand there and fight and give the fans their money’s worth.”
Mayweather is conscious he went away from his normal strategy, even though Maidana's trainer, Robert Garcia, insisted Maidana was the impetus for the move. Via Michael Woods of TheSweetScience.com:
Garcia: "Maidana bulled him into the ropes, like Roberto Duran did Ray Leonard. Floyd was forced into fighting like that."— Michael Woods (@Woodsy1069) May 7, 2014
Mayweather may have lost a step or two, but taking the fight to the center of the ring more often would allow him to use his superior hand speed and agility to pick Maidana apart. Additionally, the strategy might do away with the perception that he was unwittingly backed into a corner for the majority of the fight.
As far as continually running down your opponent goes, Maidana's best chance at victory against Mayweather is pacing his attacking style so he can pick and choose his spots later in the fight.
According to Mayweather, Maidana has an "awkward style", per Ron Borges of the Boston Herald.
This included an unceasing barrage of overhand rights and body shots that, yes, kept Mayweather off-balance, but didn't connect at a very high percentage. Even when on the ropes, Mayweather was able to make sure many of Maidana's looping blows landed on his shoulders or back of his head. Rarely did he take power punches right on the chin.
Borges' account of the fight shows how Maidana's relentless pace at the beginning of the match eventually caught up to him. Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times describes how Maidana had to adjust to running out of gas:
In the ninth, Mayweather made a rare switch to left-hander and stung Maidana with a beautiful right cross. Maidana, so aggressive early in the fight, appeared to be running out of gas. His most effective defense was a good jab that kept Mayweather at bay.
That jab was often disregarded in favor of the overhand right. Maidana could work the jab in earlier in the fight rather than try to run down Mayweather from the beginning. Matthew Paras of Maxboxing.com noted the proficiency of Maidana's jab.
The way Maidana resets with a jab after he gets off balance is a thing of beauty. It's really disrupting Mayweather's timing. #boxing— Matthew Paras (@Matthew_Paras) May 4, 2014
His overbearing style was successful, but it will take alot more than brute force to beat a champion prizefighter like Mayweather.
If Mayweather and Maidana do engage in a rematch, there is little chance that Maidana's style would be as effective. The brawler mentality that caught Mayweather off guard during the beginning of the fight eventually wore thin, and Mayweather will be ready for the attack from the opening bell.
Does Maidana deserve a rematch against Mayweather?
Still, Maidana's youth and ability to withstand snapping counters bodes well for him if he can learn to control his punches more. Maidana seems able to weather any storm, and as Mayweather continues to age it could be that the direct approach is better than any other complex strategy out there for beating the undefeated Mayweather.