Floyd Mayweather Jr. proved in his last fight he can take a beating and still come out unscathed.
Mayweather withstood 12 rounds of vicious blows from Marcos Maidana to maintain his undefeated record. Maidana went for broke in the match, throwing overhand rights, looping body shots, elbows and low blows at the champion prizefighter.
Despite the constant barrage of punches, once the final bell sounded, it had become clear that Mayweather would win thanks to his technical precision. The Maidana match proved that to beat Money Mayweather, you need to knock him out, as his tactical ability is head and shoulders above the rest of the competition.
Maidana wasn't going to win any style points against Mayweather, and his all-out strategy reflected that. It gave Mayweather trouble, but it was necessary considering how often Mayweather connected on stinging counterpunches compared to Maidana. The overall fight results show the gaping chasm between the two boxers.
Despite Maidana out-punching Mayweather by a 2:1 ratio, Mayweather still connected on more punches overall, via Showtime Stats.
#ShoStats: Total Punches Landed/Thrown thru 12 Mayweather [230/426, 53%] Maidana [221/858, 25%]— SHO Stats (@SHOStats) May 4, 2014
But 221 punches is a lot of punishment for a 37-year-old boxer to take. Not only that, Maidana's dirty tactics, which referee Tony Weeks did little to prevent, took a toll on Mayweather. Mayweather's father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., even said after the match that his son should avoid Maidana in the future.
According to an interview with Chris Robinson of Hustle Boss (h/t Kory Kitchen of Bad Left Hook), Mayweather Sr. said: "With all that stuff that Maidana did....if I was Floyd, I wouldn't fight him again."
That reflects a potential consensus in the Mayweather camp that his best chances at victory are when he's sure his fate is in the hands of the judges and not referees or foul play. Mayweather and his cohorts are meticulous and they refuse to let anyone jeopardize their success in any manner.
The closest Mayweather came to losing via decision was at the gloved hands of Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. The fight went to Mayweather on a split decision and launched him into boxing's stratosphere.
Since then, he's had just two majority decisions—against Maidana and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in 2013—while the rest of his victories have come via unanimous decisions, knockout and technical knockout. Trying to outbox Mayweather has proved to be an impossible task so far, and that is unlikely to change.
Prior to his fight against Alvarez, Mayweather detailed his supreme confidence in his own ability to outclass any ring opponent, as reported by Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times:
I can box and fight on the inside. I can counterpunch, can use my legs and go both ways. I can turn it into a dirty fight. Whatever. When it's all said and done, I can always find a way to win. I was born to win and I'll die a winner. No matter how you get the victory, as long as you get it. People always remember winners.
A technical knockout is also an unlikely proposition, as just getting Mayweather to draw blood is a herculean task.
The fight against Maidana was notable for a cut that opened above Mayweather's right eye in the fourth round. Showtime's PR team noted the historic nature of that particular flesh wound.
In 18 years of professional fighting, this is the first time Floyd Mayweather has been cut in a fight! #themoment— SHO_PR (@SHO_PR) May 4, 2014
Mayweather didn't bleed much, and has rarely—if ever—been staggered during a fight. To get to that point against Mayweather would mean a knockout would likely have to follow, lest Money regain his composure.
Technical ability and thick skin aside, Mayweather is also a master at psychological warfare. Against De La Hoya, he came to the ring dressed in green and red, the colors of the Mexican flag. The Golden Boy himself described how these tactics threw him off before the fight even began. Via Pugmire:
"My strategy went out the window once that bell rang because I wanted to knock his head off so badly," said De La Hoya.
It should also be noted that Mayweather himself doesn't rely on the knockout to score victory. He purposefully draws opponents into a full 12 rounds of boxing. He's recorded just 26 KOs in his career, with the last one coming against Victor Ortiz in 2011.
He knows that his defensive ability, the shoulder rolls and lightning-quick jabs are enough to outmaneuver even his shrewdest opponents. Mayweather's ability to draw opponents out of their comfort zone and into frenzied punching helps him score victories in later rounds when his opponent's stamina is depleted.
Which potential Mayweather opponent has the best chance of winning by knockout?
Of Mayweather's potential future opponents, Maidana has the best chance of scoring a knockout due to his stamina and heavy punching. Amir Khan is regarded for his speed and precision more than his knockout ability, although he does have 19 KOs in 32 professional bouts.
Of course, the world still waits on a potential bout with Manny Pacquiao, who is coming off an impressive revenge victory against Timothy Bradley. However, Pacquiao would likely have to outbox Mayweather as well, as seven of his last eight bouts have gone to decision.