An oral (and entirely fictional) history of Mayweather vs Maidana

Brian Kenny – Mayweather vs Maidana is one of those contests in sports you never forget. In all my years of working boxing broadcasts, in terms of drama and excitement, no other night comes close to what we witnessed at the MGM Grand the night of May 3, 2014. It was unforgettable, for so many reasons. But the main one is that we witnessed the first and last defeat of an exceptional fighter, one that 99.99% of the world believed would retire undefeated. But Maidana had plans of his own, and he made sure that didn’t happen.

Al Bernstein – A memorable night, no doubt. The atmosphere inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena was electrifying from the opening bell. The undercard bouts set up the ambiance very nicely. They were competitive, they spilled blood, they kept the crowd on their feet. In fact, my favorite tie got stained with Broner’s O-positive, and I clearly remember Amir Khan’s impression of a chicken running around the ring with his head cut off after Collazo almost decapitated him with that right cross. But we all know the real reason people remember that night is because of what Maidana did to Mayweather. Not only did he defeat him—against all odds—he effectively retired him.

Brian Kenny – Mayweather would never fight again after that night. He retired with a record of 45-1, and the biggest underdog he had faced in years is the one who spoiled his undefeated record. It just goes to show how much the so-called “experts”—including Al and I—really know about boxing. They don’t call it “The Theater of the Unexpected” for nothing. In the end, Floyd retired without fulfilling his contract to Showtime. He decided enough was enough. He just couldn’t bring himself to step into a boxing ring ever again.

Brian Kenny
Brian Kenny

Roger Mayweather – Leave me the fuck alone, mothafucka. You don’t know shit about boxing anyways, and I ain’t gonna tell ya’ll about it after all this time. Where were you ten years ago? Fuck outta here.

Adrien Broner – Just a sad night, ya know? Not only did ma big brotha fail to get tha W, but he retired after the fight. How come he could never fight again? I dunno. Big brotha didn’t return ma calls no mo’ after that night. I think I let him down by losing twice in a row. On top of him losin’ to Maidana, he just couldn’t deal with it, know what I’m sayin’? I mean, he coulda bounced back, but he was tired. He just didn’t have it in him anymo’. That night drained everything out of him, all that love for the sport of boxing. Just gone.

Robert Garcia – The difference was motivation and focus. Mayweather at that point in time was scattered all over the place. He was talking about his love life and his family and these babies he lost. He was talking about going into business with Schaefer and Haymon. He was making appearances at charity events on fight week. He was talking about buying the friggin’ L.A. Clippers. Come on, man! You can’t take boxing that lightly, no matter how good you are! Maidana was the opposite—ever since the fight got signed, he was obsessed with beating the crap outta Mayweather. Every day he come into the gym, the first thing he said to me was: “Me lo voy a chingar, boludo ese!”, which means “I’m going to fuck him up, that fucker.” And on May 3, all those years ago, that’s exactly what he did.

Marcos Maidana – I really just want to beat Mayweather so badly that night. This was my, how you say, destino. My destiny. My plan was to attack from early, take him out of his comfort. Counter-counter, move around; nah, we wanted none of that. It was hard to get close at first, but I was ready. I was prepared for this challenge all my life.

Al Bernstein
Al Bernstein

Al Bernstein – It wasn’t easy for Maidana at first. Mayweather was trying to impose his style, and he succeeded during the first few rounds. Now, don’t get me wrong, Maidana landed a few solid shots, but it looked like Mayweather would soon take over. The start reminded me of the Victor Ortiz fight to some extent. It was that kind of tough, inside fighting that everyone said was the only way to beat Mayweather. Maidana did his best to make it ugly, but Mayweather more than held his own.

Brian Kenny – Indeed. It was a close fight early on, but up until round four, there was still the feeling Mayweather had the advantage. Maidana seemed to be having problems closing the distance, because Mayweather started moving more and landing the right hand. But at the end of round four, there was a turn in the tide. It was very drastic, we all saw it. We even felt it.

Al Bernstein – Yup, there was no way to miss it. There was an exchange on the ropes, after what had been Mayweather’s best round. Anyway, Maidana had just missed with a big right hand, and Mayweather did his usual duck-and-counter move with his own right, and I swear I even heard it. It still echoes inside my head.

Brian Kenny – Mayweather landed his right counter, flush on Maidana’s skull, but his hand cracked right there. It sounded like someone biting into an apple. A crunching sound that made you shiver. We all heard it ringside.

Al Bernstein – And I could see Mayweather grimace in pain and alarm bells went off, like “Uh-oh! Now things are going to get interesting!” The round ended before Maidana could throw another punch, but I swear I saw him smile as he turned back to his corner. And the shot didn’t even faze him, that’s the other thing. Mayweather lost his right-hand, but the blow didn’t have any effect on Maidana.

Brian Kenny – Floyd had suffered hand injuries during fights before, but it was never as bad as what went down that night. He was really in pain, and in front of him he had an Argentinean bull who was never going to stop charging.

Adrien Broner
Adrien Broner

Adrien Broner – At the end of round four I saw big brotha’ hurt his hand real bad. I swear I never saw him so hurt in the ring befo’. He come back to his corner, and he don’t even have to say nothin’. He knew he was in deep shit. He knew, next round, Maidana gonna come out guns blazin’.

Larry Merchant – I was covering the fight ringside for British television, and at that moment, the end of round four, I knew I was watching something very unique. Mayweather was in trouble. Forget the Castillo fight, forget the Cotto fight. This was an entirely new situation he found himself in. On press row, they all looked as if they were at a funeral service, but the crowd was going nuts. It was a surreal experience. What’s more remarkable is that the good stuff was only about to get started. We hadn’t seen anything yet!

Larry Merchant
Larry Merchant

Robert Garcia – As soon as Chino came back to the corner, I yelled at him, “His hand is gone! You need to jump on the guy, he won’t fire back!” And Chino was just looking at me, very serious, just nodding. He was committed to the game plan, but I knew he was gonna jump on Floyd the next round, even though in the corner he just looked like a goddamn accountant or something. I couldn’t get him to react. I guess he didn’t want to lose focus, didn’t want to get over-excited and make a mistake.

Al Bernstein – Maidana became a mauler in round five, just constantly pushing and punching at Mayweather. He would feint first and then rush Floyd, push him to the ropes, and just unload: uppercuts, right hands upstairs, body shots. It was like they had injected Adderall into his veins or something. He came out like a beast, and Floyd didn’t have much recourse with his right hand gone. He couldn’t get any distance between himself and Maidana, and you could see all that wrestling on the ropes was tiring him. And the other thing was, Tony Weeks, the referee, just let them fight. In fact, he warned Floyd for holding several times, but you could tell Mayweather would have welcomed more intervention but he didn’t get it.

Marcos Maidana – When I realize his right hand gone, it was up to me to make things happen. Floyd couldn’t hit back now, but the defense and the left hook were still there. This is when I said to myself I had to go everything-in. How you say it? Like in poker? All-in. Yeah. All-in.

Brian Kenny – Well, remember, Mayweather was 37 years old at the time. If you think about it, it’s an unbelievable way to have everything go against you in a single fight. Not only had people underestimated Maidana as an opponent, but they had also overestimated Mayweather I think, despite the signs he was due for a tough fight. He was aging, he was distracted, he was fighting someone with no sense of quit in him. It was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport, right up there with Tyson vs Douglas and Ali vs Spinks.

Adrien Broner – In tha middle rounds, big brotha’ took a beating, man. It was the saddest shit I ever seen. I couldn’t believe it. There was nothing he could do to keep that guy away from him. Chino kept cutting the exits and pushing him to the ropes. I had flashbacks, man. I ain’t gonna lie. All ya mothafuckas who said Chino couldn’t do to Floyd what he did to me were wrong, man. Way wrong.

Oscar De La Hoya
Oscar De La Hoya

Oscar De La Hoya – I remember, I was in shock. I truly couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The way Maidana kept pounding him to the body and pushing him around the ring. Floyd would make him miss to the head, but then Maidana would go to the body and he was wide open but Floyd wouldn’t throw the right hand. He was just peppering him with jabs and then grabbing him. And then Maidana started landing the left hook. Big left hooks. Some of those hooks, when they connected, you could hear the whole crowd go, “Oooooh!” It was almost painful to see.

Marcos Maidana – I start to take over then. I punish him and push him to the ropes and throw strong punches and hurt him. When I was up to close to him, I say many times in his ear, “Estas acabado, viejito,” which is to say “You’re done, old man.” But he keeps fighting, he try to punch back. But he was, as you say, very weak in the hands and getting small of breath. How you say? Short of breath. He gets tired and tired. I thought I would knock him out. But I couldn’t.

Robert Garcia – Going into the championship rounds, I could see Chino getting a bit discouraged. He was fighting a guy who he knew was hurt bad —I think after we found out he broke like three bones in his hand and shit—and he was old too, and his legs were gone. I told Chino between rounds to lean on him and keep going to the body, all that hustling and leaning makes anyone get tired. But Mayweather refused to go down. He was taking shots but the motherfucker just wouldn’t go down.

Al Bernstein – Ironically we saw Mayweather, when he was at his most vulnerable, show tremendous heart and determination like we never saw before. It was a moment that many of us had been waiting for, for a long time. I remember at the end of the tenth round—after five, six rounds of just grueling punishment from Maidana—Mayweather looked straight into my eyes as he was walking back to his corner. His face was the picture-perfect definition of dignity. He knew he was in deep, he knew he couldn’t win, but he was resigned to this fact and he was not going to even consider the idea of quitting. More than ever, to me, he was the epitome of a true fighter that night, a true warrior.

Adrien Broner – By the tenth, everyone in ma dressin’ room was silent, but we couldn’t stop watchin’. At the same time, I saw that big brotha’ was hurt bad: his nose was bleedin’, he couldn’t throw his right, he had bruises all over his face. But you saw he’s tough, tougher than anyone gave him credit for. He knew he was losing, but he wouldn’t be denied to the finish. He stayed in the pocket with Maidana, showing some moves, getting’ tagged, yeah, but also makin’ him miss. Hell, Chino had a crazy edge, and even then he couldn’t finish him. What you think that says ‘bout big brotha’ right there?

Floyd and Roger Mayweather
Floyd and Roger Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather Sr. – Y’all saw how good li’l Floyd was in that fight. Any other fighter be in his shoes, he roll over and die. Floyd stay right there, he be makin’ his moves, makin’ Maidana miss a lot too. Yeah, he took shots, but he kept makin’ him miss too. Y’all saw that. At 37-years-old, wit a broken hand. If li’l Floyd was in his prime, he would’ve handled that punk-ass like it was nothin’. Y’all know that. Those skills he learn from his daddy and from his uncle Rog. But the toughness was all his. And Li’l Floyd was all heart that night.

Marcos Maidana – I saw he wanted to keep fighting. Before the last round, they ask him if he okay, if he want to fight more. He just say yes, like that, with his head. That’s when I feel, how you say, respeto, for him. Respect. Floyd earn respect that night. Even though I beat him up.

Brian Kenny – In the final round, there was one more surprise. And it was extraordinary. Maidana was trying to finish strong, just in case there was some weird scoring from the judges—after all, Floyd’s fighting in his hometown, and this is boxing, right? And all the while, Mayweather is not throwing back, not even with the left. It’s as if he made the decision to show his amazing defensive skills one last time.

Al Bernstein – It was like watching the re-incarnation of Willie Pep. Mayweather made the choice to win this last round based on defense. He didn’t care if the war was already lost, he wanted to win this last battle.

Robert Garcia
Robert Garcia

Robert Garcia – To this day I still get chills thinking about that last round. Mayweather ducking and weaving like some Matrix-motherfucker. He started moving around like he was a 23-year-old track star. Even though Chino, all this time, was on him like a madman, he was throwing punches all over the place. We wanted that knockout bad, but Mayweather got strength from somewhere for that last round. I think he maybe knew it might be his last round, the last one ever. He wanted to make it count.

Marcos Maidana – I just couldn’t catch him. He became, as you say, invisible. He was there, I throw a punch, and he’s not there anymore. Crazy.

Al Bernstein – Mayweather put on a show in the last round. It was like watching a bull on meth going after the most agile matador you’ve ever seen. You could see the rage building in Maidana with every missed punch, and he threw everything but the kitchen sink at Mayweather. But in his last stand, Floyd put on a clinic. It was as if he was saying, “Okay, maybe you’re going to win this fight, but the all-time great is me. The guy with the skills is me. And I’m going to prove it.” And Maidana couldn’t connect. It was incredible.

Brian Kenny – And by this point, the crowd is delirious. At first, they were rooting for Maidana all the way, or better said, against Floyd, really. They wanted to see history. They wanted to see someone finally get a win against the undefeated champion. But when they saw that Mayweather was showing incredible guts, they started cheering for him. When Maidana missed with the hook, they would shout “Ole!” When Maidana missed with the right, they would shout “Ole!” The MGM had turned into a bullring!

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Adrien Broner – What can I say, man? That final round was his last hurrah, know what I’m sayin’? He didn’t go down, but he went out in style. It was big brotha’ takin’ a bow before leaving the stage. His last gift to his fans. I’ll never forget that round. I still watch it sometimes, when I get to thinkin’ ‘bout ma big brotha’.

Al Bernstein – Those final three minutes were a brilliant performance, one of the finest I’ve ever seen. And to make it even more extraordinary, just before the final bell Floyd landed a piercing counter-right flush on Maidana, a stinging shot that must have been agony for him, and it stopped the bull right in his tracks. Maidana couldn’t get back at him, though, because then the bell rang. It was an incredible fight, all things considered. In the end the decision went to Maidana, of course, but Floyd earned the last round on all three scorecards, the last round of his career.

Brian Kenny – Looking back, it remains an extraordinary night. We knew at the time it was history because the undefeated record, that thing which really defined who Floyd Mayweather was as a boxer, was gone. So that was the lead story that night, that this gifted boxer who appeared destined to never lose, now had a record of 45-1. But the reverberations would be felt for years to come. It completely transformed our image of Maidana. And little did we know at the time, but for Floyd Mayweather, that was it. He was done. He walked away. I remember he didn’t attend the post-fight press conference but went straight to the hospital. And no one heard anything from him for days. He just kind of disappeared. And as we know now, his life completely changed. That night, and that fight, was the end of something, but also a new beginning.

–Rafael Garcia

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