We learned a few things about Floyd Mayweather Jr. following his bout with Marcos Maidana. After all, the 37-year-old pound-for-pound king didn't quite look as dominant as he has in the past.
Early in the fight, Maidana bullied Mayweather around the ring, constantly forcing Mayweather into the ropes and pounding away on him with his signature overhand right.
Mayweather didn't seem to have an answer.
It could be conceived that if Maidana had slightly better accuracy, the fight would have turned out much differently.
Maidana's rugged brawling style gave Mayweather fits. Mayweather was unable to keep the fight in the center of the ring and rely on his superior athleticism to gain the upper hand.
Fortunately for Mayweather, he found his rhythm in the middle rounds of the fight and scored just enough points to win by majority decision.
That certainly wasn't the expected outcome heading into the fight, as Maidana was a huge underdog.
Steve Kim of Max Boxing tweeted his thoughts on the fight's outcome:
Just saw the rebroadcast of Mayweather-Maidana, still had Mayweather up by a couple points. Maidana gave a great effort #boxing— Steve Kim (@stevemaxboxing) May 11, 2014
Even Mayweather has acknowledged his advanced age, as he consistently contemplates retirement, according to an interview with Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News:
I'm not really worried about [going 50-0]. I'm being honest. I be contemplating every day—getting out of the sport now. I'm very comfortable. Very comfortable. If I choose to walk away then I walk away. It's just me being a human being. If I feel like walking away then I'm walking away.
So, if Mayweather chooses to continue fighting, what does he need to do to keep his unblemished 46-0 record intact?
He needs to rely on his stellar defensive tactics.
Even though Mayweather won the fight against Maidana, he was unable to significantly damage his opponent. Offensively, Mayweather's age is showing. It's not that he's lost his speed—he's still able to fly around the ring—his punches just doesn't have the same impact.
This is apparent when looking at his most recent fights. After recording a knockout against Victor Ortiz in 2011, Mayweather's next four fights ended in two unanimous decisions and two majority decisions.
With his opponents able to go the distance, Mayweather must keep his defensive prowess intact going forward.
At the age of 37, we may never see Mayweather record another knockout—especially against larger opponents like Maidana. At this point in his career, he is best suited to rely on his shoulder roll to avoid heavy strikes and utilize his quick counterpunching ability when a window opens.
Here's one big reason why Money must employ this strategy: Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com tweeted the numbers from Maidana's offensive onslaught on Mayweather:
Mayweather landed 230 punches to Maidana's 221 tonight. Maidana threw 858 punches while Mayweather threw 426.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) May 4, 2014
In the twilight of his career, it comes down to stamina and survival for Mayweather. Avoiding unnecessary contact and racking up points throughout the duration of a fight is the one way he'll be able to keep winning.
Mayweather is slated to fight again this fall to maintain his contract with Showtime. If Money chooses to fight another larger opponent, such as Peter Quillin, his defense will need to be sharp as ever to avoid being bullied in the same fashion he was against Maidana.
Regardless of who Mayweather chooses to fight, defense remains his best chance for continued success.