Floyd Mayweather Jr. toured a dozen tough rounds with Argentina’s Marcos Maidana, a 10-1 underdog, who was determined to make it difficult for the undefeated pound-for-pound king last Saturday night.
In a welterweight unification battle at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mayweather’s record remained unblemished after taking a majority decision despite a slow start.
In the early going, Mayweather, who now owns the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association belts, found himself on the ropes and was hit by an array of punches from all angles by Maidana, who was somewhat awkward, but nonetheless effective through the first five rounds.
Maidana wanted to crowd Mayweather so that he wouldn’t be able to extend his arms and throw punches.
There were moments when the fight resembled a wrestling match as the pair were locked together including the 11th round when Maidana actually pushed Mayweather down.
More rough play saw Mayweather getting head-butted in the fourth round, which opened a cut above his right eye. Maidana claimed it was a punch.
In the eighth round Mayweather was hit with a low blow that Referee Tony Weeks didn’t see.
“It was a tough, competitive fight, what the fans want to see,’’ said Mayweather, who pressed his winning streak to 46 in a row with 26 knockouts. “Normally, I box, I move, I blow the guys out. This time I wanted to stand there and fight.”
This was one of Mayweather’s stiffest tests after being hit 221 times by Maidana according to Compubox, which is the most he’s been tagged in 38 bouts that it has charted.
“I feel I was robbed. I feel I won,’’ said Maidana, who is 35-4-0 with 31 knockouts. “I trained hard and I fought a good fight. And I feel that this was an injustice.”
There were many in the crowd of 16,238 that agreed with Maidana, even though Judges Burt Clements scored it 117-111, and Dave Moretti had it 116-112 in favor of Mayweather. Michael Pernick had it even at 114-114.
“He did dominate some rounds, but the majority of them I dominated them,’’ said Maidana. “I definitely thought I won this fight. Floyd did not fight like a man like I thought he would. Other fighters respected him and didn’t go toe-to-toe like I did.”
The fight changed course in the sixth round when Mayweather moved into the middle of the ring and began to use his extensive arsenal.
Maidana seemed to get tired during the second half of the fight, and wasn’t as explosive or accurate. Maidana threw 100 punches in the first round, but never approached that figure.
But give Maidana credit because many of Mayweather’s opponents were content to simply be in the ring with an all-time great.
Not Maidana, who threw everything at Mayweather and was willing to stand and trade blows.
Mayweather might be the best conditioned boxer in the world, and has the ability to score in the late rounds.
“He put a lot of pressure on me,’’ he said. “After the head butt I couldn’t see for two rounds. But that’s what champions do. True champs adjust to anything. He’s a champ and I’m a champ and we did what we did tonight.”
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.