May 3, 2014: Mayweather vs Maidana I

Against all expectations, Mayweather vs Maidana proved to be one of the most exciting fights of 2014. As he did against Adrien Broner five months before, Marcos Maidana started fast, attacking relentlessly, pushing Floyd Mayweather into the ropes and throwing huge looping punches. Some of these got through, and Mayweather, unaccustomed to such ferocious barrages, was forced to swivel inside his shoulder roll defense. The pace did not abate, as trainer Robert Garcia’s plan was for ‘Chino’ to throw one hundred punches per round. Watching Floyd get bullied by someone with no respect for his skills was an unusual sight, and the crowd–which included thousands of Argentines–exulted in seeing Mayweather tested in a way few had ever seen before. Maidana entered the ring some 15 pounds heavier than Floyd, and he used this extra weight to push “Money” back. Floyd’s advantages in speed, experience, defensive acumen, and savvy could not subdue Maidana’s aggression, and through the first five rounds the Argentine was the better man.

When an opponent presents Floyd with a problem, he typically finds a solution after a few rounds. But Maidana was so stylistically awkward, that Floyd couldn’t find a rhythm or comfortable distance from which to exert control. In this sense, Mayweather vs Maidana was similar to Floyd’s first scrap with Jose Luis Castillo, when the Mexican’s uneven, awkward style mixed badly with Mayweather’s technical mastery. But beginning in round six, and despite bleeding from an unintentional headbutt, Floyd made the stylistic adjustments necessary to subdue his aggressive opponent. Specifically, he began to command the center of the ring, where he began to establish his jab, repeatedly using it to strike Maidana’s abdomen, and he also began to throw his right hand more liberally. Floyd’s accuracy was remarkable: despite throwing half of Maidana’s punches, at this point in the bout he enjoyed a narrow edge in blows landed.


In the last few rounds of the bout, with the fight agonizingly close, Floyd managed to outpoint “Chino” by landing the straighter, cleaner shots. However, while some liked to dismiss Maidana as a crude, two-fisted slugger whose shoddy technique allowed Mayweather to gain the edge, this was unfair to both fighters. Even when wildly swinging his overhand right and fighting with the abandon of a street tough, Maidana showed technical development, as his defense and jab were sharper than ever before. This ensured the fight would be competitive until the end. Even though he threw 858 shots, Maidana didn’t punch himself out, and was still coming forward in the late going. While its control had been ceded to Floyd, the match was close enough that the championship rounds were genuinely dramatic. In short, it took some championship level skill and composure for Mayweather to gain the upper hand in the final rounds.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Marcos Maidana

Floyd won a majority decision with scores of 114-144, 116-112, and 117-11, but those last two score cards did not accurately reflect what unfolded in the ring that night, particularly the 117-111 result, which was, in a word, absurd. Floyd did enough to prevail, but his margin of victory was closer than such scores indicated. In fact, Mayweather appeared visibly nervous when the decision was read, and didn’t even raise his hands when deemed the victor. Afterwards, Maidana, to everyone’s amusement, stated that since he was the true winner he would be happy to grant Floyd a rematch. While the judges deemed Mayweather’s precision more important than Maidana’s volume, all agreed that the Argentine’s effort and execution were exceptional.

Indeed, the night’s biggest winner was certainly Marcos Maidana, who proved he was a more competent elite performer than most had believed. He showed to all that he had made huge improvements under the guidance of trainer Robert Garcia, and that he now brought a formidable array of skills and weapons to the ring, combining power, some cagey boxing skills, with physical strength and savage aggression. And his performance endeared him to boxing fans outside of Argentina, a tremendous boon for his career.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., Marcos Maidana
Maidana exceeded all expectations.

Floyd Mayweather showed boxing fans he’s capable of dealing with a hellion but, tellingly, when the struggle had ended there seemed to be more relief, and less jubilation, in his corner than in fights past. Floyd looked weary, as if he’d been forced to confront the reality that what he does for a living can be exceedingly hard when things don’t go as planned. He still won, but not without paying a considerable physical price. No matter the wages, working as a professional prizefighter takes a vicious toll, and it appeared evident that Marcos Maidana had compelled Floyd Mayweather to confront that reality in a way no other opponent ever had.          — Robert Portis  

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