Maidana makes Mayweather work for 46th win

‘Other fighters gave him too much respect and didn’t go toe-to-toe with him,’ says Argentinian

Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left) of the US dodges a blow from Marcos Maidana of Argentina during their WBC/WBA welterweight unification fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph: Steve Marcus / Reuters

Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left) of the US dodges a blow from Marcos Maidana of Argentina during their WBC/WBA welterweight unification fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph: Steve Marcus / Reuters

Sun, May 4, 2014, 13:30

Floyd Mayweather saw off a hurricane in Las Vegas, a rough night to end a chaotic week. He was cut early and battered for several of the 12 rounds as Marcos Maidana rolled towards him with little regard for his own safety, but Mayweather did what he always does: he found a way to win.

His self-belief and his unbeaten record remain intact – he had the audacity to have notes bearing the statistic 46-0 scattered over the crowd before the first bell - and he has the Argentinian’s WBA welterweight belt to add to the one he already looks after on behalf of the WBC. But the aura has diminished every so slightly, to the point where Amir Khan – who dropped and outpointed the former world champion Luis Collazo earlier in his welterweight debut and first fight at the MGM – is now a credible opponent. He ought to be, given he beat Maidana in 2010.

“A true champion can make adjustments,” Mayweather said, a hail of Latino boos drowning out his victory speech. “I got cracked early by a headbutt over my eye, and couldn’t see properly. If the fans want see it again, we can do it again.”

Maidana, clearly unimpressed, said: “Other fighters gave him too much respect and didn’t go toe-to-toe with him. I’ll give him a rematch because I won the fight. I’m not scared of him.”

Indeed, so rousing a performance did Maidana produce, a lot of fighters will now fancy their chances against Mayweather – and that makes any of his three remaining fights on his Showtime contract all the more intriguing. He is, at last, beatable.

The judges gave him a majority win by margins of 114-114, 117-111 and 116-112. I scored it for him 116-114, with the third and the eighth rounds shared, and the latter of those two could have gone to Mayweather.

It was always going to be a collision of the crude and the clever – but nobody outside Argentina could have predicted with confidence that Maidana would give the finest defensive boxer of modern times so much sustained hell.

Maidana and his shrewd trainer Robert Garcia made no secret of his fight plan beforehand: come out swinging that overhand right and hope to knock Mayweather out. Well, he tried. And he tried. Mayweather also promised an unreserved battle and, whether or not he really wanted to do that, he had little choice in a first round as tough as any he has endured in his career.

Showtime announced Maidana’s dressing-room weight as 165lbs, with Mayweather on the 148lbs welterweight limit, just as he had been at the weigh-in, which is extraordinary on both counts.

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