Sunday, May 4, 2014
What we learned from Mayweather-Maidana
By Brett Okamoto
Forty-six-and-oh. Floyd Mayweather remained perfect at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday thanks to a majority win over a surprisingly game Marcos Maidana. The fight wasn't quite what many expected, but it ultimately provided the expected result. What exactly did we learn from it?
1. Maybe Maidana isn’t tailor-made for Mayweather after all ...
Maidana, with his awkward, often wild, style was supposed to be an easy fight for Mayweather on Saturday. Mayweather closed at a near 10-to-1 favorite, meaning that oddsmakers felt Mayweather had a better than 90 percent chance to win.
By the end of 12 rounds, however, Maidana had landed 221 punches on Mayweather -- more than any other fighter had previously. He also did enough to win six of the 12 rounds, according to one judge. (Although, as Mayweather pointed out, one judge thought the same about his blowout against Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in September … so, all judges’ scorecards aren’t necessarily reliable.)
According to Mayweather, the fight was close by his design. At the postfight news conference he quipped, “I could have made this fight absolutely easy, but it would have been boring. We’ve got to give the fans what they want to see.”
That, of course, is a lie. Would Mayweather, a career defensive fighter, really risk the perfect “0” on his record for the sake of entertainment? No. Maidana forced a close fight with heart, a higher level of skill than he’s typically known for and a few dirty tactics here and there for good measure.
“He bit me in the arm in the third round,” Mayweather said, adding that Maidana targeted his groin with punches and head-butted him early in the fight. “He’s going to do whatever he has to do to win, and I respect him for that.”
2. ... or maybe he is, and we’ll find out in a rematch.
A September rematch between Mayweather and Maidana seems very possible, if not guaranteed. Mayweather was open to it immediately after the fight, and that didn’t change during the time it took him to get from the ring to the news conference.
“If he feels he won, he can get it again in September,” said Mayweather from the postfight news conference stage.
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer expressed a similar level of interest in a rematch, calling Saturday “the most exciting Mayweather fight I’ve ever seen.” Robert Garcia, Maidana’s trainer, even got a verbal agreement from Mayweather, although the champ added, “We’ve got to negotiate.”
If Mayweather truly believes he could have made the Maidana fight as easy or as hard as he chose, he could get the chance to prove it in September.
3. Even Mayweather might be vulnerable to distractions
Mayweather is the pound-for-pound king, the cash king and the PPV king. He’s also the king of handling his business in the midst of turmoil.
Seems like every time he fights, Mayweather is submersed in some kind of drama. Whether it’s dealing with a deep rift with his father or the legal troubles of his uncle/trainer Roger, Mayweather’s life seems to lend itself to reality television.
But if you look at his two toughest fights since ending a brief retirement in 2009, (a UD over Miguel Cotto on May 5, 2012, and Saturday) Mayweather was dealing with personal stress outside the ring. Before the Cotto fight, Mayweather was granted a temporary reprieve on a 90-day jail sentence in a domestic violence case -- and ahead of the Maidana fight, he separated from longtime fiancée Chantel Jackson.
In both fights, Mayweather engaged more offensively with his opponents and took more damage than usual. Were those performances related to his issues outside the ring? It’s certainly plausible to think they could be.
4. Amir Khan deserves a fight with Mayweather, but he won’t get it this year.
Khan’s decision to campaign for the Mayweather fight outside the ring rather than in it drew criticism among fans and media and, ultimately, fell short.
Khan, 27, made up for it in a rather dominant win over Luis Collazo in which he won every round on two of three official scorecards and scored three knockdowns. In his third fight with trainer Virgil Hunter, Khan flashed absolute brilliance multiple times and set the stage for a very watchable fight against a 37-year-old Mayweather.
Unfortunately, Khan’s commitment Ramadan in July erases any shot of him fighting Mayweather in September.
5. Adrien Broner’s comeback was just OK
It is undeniable that Broner, 24, possesses certain qualities that could eventually turn him into a major star in boxing. He also has limitations that could hold him back.
Broner rebounded from the first loss of his professional career -- suffered at the hands of Maidana in December -- just as everyone suspected he would. Broner closed before the fight a near 33-to-1 favorite, according to MGM officials.
He appeared to have his opportunities to put away Carlos Molina on the Showtime main card but didn’t. After the fight, he made offensive racial comments that prompted a response from in-ring interviewer Jim Gray.
Broner was adequate in his 140-pound debut but little more than that. Big fights await for him at this weight class, however, he’ll have to be better in more ways than one to make the most of them.