(Floyd Mayweather, left, Marcos Maidana, right; via @shosports)
The longer it went on, the more the expected became the reality between Floyd Mayweather and underdog Marcos Maidana on Showtime Pay-Per-View Saturday night. That’s because the first six rounds of Mayweather-Maidana required a drastic suspension of disbelief: Maidana was winning rounds, and, often beating up Mayweather, usually untouchable, always in control even if he loses a couple stanzas in some of his performances.
In the end, Mayweather got the win he was expected to get against the most hopeless opponent of the past nearly 10 years of his career, but it was nothing like the blowout Las Vegas (and others, such as the writers for this site) saw happening. Unfortunately, a couple obscene scorecards — the 114-114 scorecard was sound, and identical to what this writer scored it — made the whole scrappy affair look like a cakewalk that it was not. 116-112 was in the realm of feasibility, albeit scoff-worthy. 117-111 was the work of a true madman.
The weapons Maidana needed to make it competitive, such as his hard punching and awkward angles, materialized. The extracurriculars he needed to actually win, such as heretofore unestablished stamina, manifested themselves. I had it 5-1 through six rounds. Mayweather soon did that thing he does, which is to size up his opponents and take over, foreshadowed by that “I know who you are now, sayonara” look. That Mayweather was able to turn a catastrophe into a dogfight spoke to the intangible toughness that Mayweather is rarely forced to display. But Maidana never let up entirely. Plenty of people who didn’t have it quite as one-sided as I did early found it to be tight late, speaking to Maidana’s ongoing competitiveness until the final bell.
This kind of fight is very much the kind of fight the hardcore fans want from Mayweather, if they care at all. For casual fans, Mayweather dominations are works of art. Yet we committed have seen his guitar solos for forever, and they’re admirable — it’s just that they lack drama. Almost everyone expected another Mayweather crush fetish video, at best. That the ever-gritty Maidana, eating some kind of pastry in his post-fight interview, would declare that he would allow Mayweather a rematch… that’s the kind of man we’ve wanted to see against Mayweather, and the kind of showing, however much it could’ve been a judge-swaying one with the slightest adaptations, that could’ve made it so the status quo notion that “Mayweather must win because he always does, right?” was sclerotic thinking.
There is, oddly, now, no more competitive fight for Mayweather than this brute Maidana in a rematch. On the undercard, Amir Khan pled his case, and left it just lacking enough. Unless Mayweather, at age 37, has lost his wizardry to age, he would still be the favorite in the rematch, and still considerably so if less than prior to the original meeting, now that he knows what is coming from Maidana and demonstrated he could adapt to it over the course of the first 12 rounds. But it is not every day that you get to watch one of boxing’s true barbarians come this close to toppling one of its great polymaths. Who wouldn’t want to give it one more try? The answer might be, despite his noncommittal post-fight answers: Mayweather.