Floyd Mayweather Jr. Must Knock out Marcos Maidana in Rematch to Silence Critics

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2014

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 03:  Floyd Mayweather Jr. smiles while taking on Marcos Maidana during their WBC/WBA welterweight unification fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 3, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

In his first bout with Marcos Maidana, Floyd Mayweather flirted with mortality in a way which hadn't been seen in years. In order to shut up those who argue Money's over the hill or still question his place in boxing's hierarchy, he's got to finish off Maidana for good.

The first time these two met, Mayweather maintained his perfect record with a majority decision. One judge scored it 114-114 and two others scored it 117-111 and 116-112 to the champion. The somewhat decisive figures belie how close the fight was, per ESPN.com's Dan Rafael:

Typically, Mayweather fights are over early, when it is obvious that he is dominating his opponent and on his way to a wipeout decision win. But Maidana, a 12-to-1 underdog and given no chance by anyone other than his most ardent supporters -- one media poll was 46-0 in Mayweather's favor -- was in the fight all the way.

"This was a tough, competitive fight. This is what fans want to see," said Mayweather, who was hit by more punches than in any of his 38 fights tracked by CompuBox. "I want to give fans an exciting fight. Normally, I box and move. Tonight, I gave fans an exciting fight."

Admittedly, expecting Mayweather to knock out anybody is toeing the line toward unrealistic. According to BoxRec, 26 of his 46 wins have come via KO. By the time Money takes on Maidana, his last knockout victory came three years ago against Victor Ortiz.

Mayweather's not the kind of fighter who goes for knockouts, especially now that he's in his mid-30s. The older he gets, the more he's going to rely on his sublime defense to avoid blows that will shorten his career, not to mention possibly send him to the canvas.

Certainly against an aggressive fighter like Maidana, he'll retreat to his defensive shell even more so.

Conversely, Maidana's offensive style might actually open up the opportunity for Mayweather to end the fight early. Mayweather has enough power to knock out the challenger. With the right confluence of events, it can happen.

The 31-year-old Argentine welterweight almost certainly can't afford to let this fight go to the judges. The champion almost always has a built-in advantage in addition to being the superior fighter. Maidana's best chance is ending the night with one blow.

At least that's Mayweather's mentality as he enters Saturday night, per Boxing Scene:

The first fight was exciting. He has the will to defeat me. He's a tough fighter. But, I'll demonstrate the difference in the rematch, as I will be faster and stronger. Maidana always fights in the same way...but I'm versatile, capable of doing different things in each fight. I can box, I can counter punch and I can move. Forty five fighters have tried to beat me... and none of them have succeeded. The only way I see Maidana beating me is by knockout, but that'll never, ever happen.

Desperation can lead to mistakes, and mistakes could lead to a knockout.

At this stage in his career, Mayweather can do very little to raise his status among boxing fans. Everybody's pretty much made up their minds about his legacy and talent. Another decision victory over Maidana would just be another good result lost in the mix.

A knockout, however, would be remembered for a long time to come.

When many look back on George Foreman's time in the ring, three fights immediately come to mind: his knockout of Joe Frazier in 1973, loss to Muhammad Ali in "The Rumble in the Jungle," and title win over Michael Moorer at the age of 45 years old.

5 Nov 1994:  George Foreman lands a straight right on Michael Moorer during a bout in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Foreman won the fight with a knockout in the tenth round. Mandatory Credit: Holly Stein  /Allsport
Holly Stein/Getty Images

Moorer is by no means a boxing legend, but seeing an aging Foreman knock out the then-champion was the stuff of legend.

Beating Maidana by knockout would be the kind of statement late in Mayweather's career that makes people stand up and take notice of his greatness.