Floyd Mayweather Survives Marcos Maidana in His Toughest Test in Years

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It was a war of attrition, a battle of razor-thin statistics, and a test of will and courage. And in the end, it was Floyd Mayweather’s biggest test in years, and quite likely one of the toughest of his professional career, as a determined and gritty Marcos Maidana produced his finest boxing performance to date in spite of losing the fight by majority decision, along with the WBA title he carried into it with the intentions to unify it with Mayweather’s WBC trinket.

The discussion over the numbers of this fight will likely be go on for months, starting with the wildly divergent scorecards of 114-114, 116-112, and 117-111. The two extremes always appear to be the most inexplicable, but oddly enough there could be understandable reasons to justify both of them, as there were only six rounds scored unanimously with the same numbers by all three judges (rounds 1,2,6,7,9 and 10) and the rest were simply up for grabs (it can even be argued that even some of those rounds were up for grabs as well). A victory for Maidana, though, would be much harder to argue, and that’s the reason why there were not so many voices daring to suggest that – other than the fighter himself.

Even in Argentina, TV commentators had scorecards as wide as 117-111 for Mayweather (46-0, 26 KO). As it turns out, XN Sports saw it at 115-113 for Floyd, and so did most of the press at ringside, according to an informal survey on social media.

The second line of battle was the always controversial punchstat. Yes, the numbers were pretty astonishing here. According to Showtime’s “ShoStats” Twitter feed, Maidana (35-4, 31 KO) threw more than twice the amount of punches thrown by Mayweather. The Argentine champ threw 858 punches to Mayweather’s 426. But obviously, accuracy was the biggest issue here, with Mayweather owning a 54 percent connection percentage while Maidana managed to land only 26 percent. In all, Mayweather landed 230 total punches against Maidana’s 221, but Maidana outlanded Floyd 185-178 in power punches, which made the difference for some people who chose to give Maidana an even higher grade for his performance based on the overall impression caused by his global effort.

But Maidana’s biggest asset in this fight was not his awesome punching stats (coming closer to outscore Mayweather than anyone else in Floyd’s career) or his solid performance (a controlled, aggressive one), but rather his willingness to engage a Mayweather for whom so many other fighters had demonstrated too much respect.

Apparently, most of Mayweather’s opponents (with Miguel Cotto being one exception) walked into the ring trying to out-Mayweather him, even knowing that it is an impossible task. Very few of them ever attempted to force Floyd into their own territory, assuming that they would never get the credit or the respect they wanted if they tried to outslug a masterful boxer, or outmuscle a brilliant strategist. They wanted to beat Mayweather in HIS own terms, and that was the primary cause of their demise. And though Maidana’s strategy worked only occasionally, the global picture still gives us the impression that we finally saw a fighter who could crack Floyd’s aura of invincibility with some degree of conviction.

In other words, Maidana dared to be Maidana instead of reinventing himself into something he was not. He was the rock to Mayweather’s alternative impersonation of scissors and paper. He stayed true to his game, disregarding Mayweather’s known strengths or weaknesses (however little, as Maidana himself had already indicated) and focusing, instead, on his own strengths almost exclusively. And in the end, Maidana got his reward in the form of a memorable performance that will do a lot to raise his stock and maybe landing him an unprecedented rematch against Mayweather.

As for Mayweather, the truth is that this victory, however close, was just another demonstration of his mastery at an art he perfects every time he steps into the ring, which consists in no less than taking boxing’s most basic principle of hitting while not getting hit to unparalleled levels, almost never before seen.

The difference in landing percentage (a whooping 28 percentage points) between the two fighters tells one part of the story. But the images of Floyd landing solid, crisp, indisputable, pin-point accurate punches on Maidana again and again (in contrast with Maidana’s equally valid and effective but much more awkward output) tell the other part of the story.

And if he continues on his winning track until his imminent retirement, that could be the image which could end up telling the whole Floyd Mayweather story.

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Diego Morilla
Diego Morilla is a boxing writer since 1992. His work has been extensively featured in some of the most prestigious boxing media outlets in Latin America and the U.S., including ESPN.com, The Ring, Latino Boxing, MaxBoxing.com, Lo Mejor del Boxeo, PSN.com, HBO Sports and newspapers such as El Mundo, Primera Hora and El Vocero, among others.