Brute Force: Marcos Maidana Falls Short Against Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

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Floyd Mayweather, Jr., entered the ring on Saturday night preceded by jesters, clowns, and jugglers, but the festive circus atmosphere nearly gave way to the gloom of a funeral march when brutish Marcos Maidana pushed him to the limit en route to dropping a grueling 12-round majority decision at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In an attempt to raise interest in a fairly moribund promotion, Mayweather kickstarted a vile smear campaign against his ex-fiancé, made click-bait headlines by announcing that he was interested in purchasing the Los Angeles Clippers—presumably because one racist ought to replace another—hinted at retirement, and manufactured a “gloves” controversy on Friday afternoon. In the end, however, the fight itself, waged for two welterweight titles, exceeded low expectations. It was a bitter contest between two contrasting styles, with Maidana trying to will his way past the textbook moves of a master boxer.

Tough as a gaucho, ornery as a borracho, and as macho as the ring allows him to be, Maidana pressed the action early and pinned Mayweather to the ropes, where he hurled one wild shot after another at a shimmying target. To Maidana, whose reckless assaults are calculated to keep finesse boxers from setting up comfortably, “The Sweet Science” is something to pour vinegar and salt over. “El Chino” also treated Mayweather as shabbily as Joey treated Salvy in Raging Bull. He threw a few intentional low blows, slipped Mayweather into a painful armbar, and cut Mayweather above the left eye with a head butt. Finally, in the tenth round, Maidana, from Santa Fe, Argentina, tried to tackle “Money” through the ropes and out of the ring.

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Mayweather, the quintessential technician, often found himself retreating and clinching, but Maidana still had troubled landing cleanly from round to round. Although Maidana, 146 ½, bullyragged Mayweather whenever possible, much of his work was artless flailing. He landed a few isolated shots here and there and worked the body well in the trenches, but missed or cuffed far more often than he connected. Mayweather, on the other hand, landed eye-catching shots repeatedly. Consistency is a big part of the quantity-versus-quality debate, and Mayweather, 146, sustained his measured offense for several consecutive rounds while Maidana often floundered. Still, Maidana fought well and built an early points lead through sheer aggression.

Late in the fifth round, Mayweather, from Grand Rapids, Michigan but fighting out of Las Vegas, hurt Maidana with a left hook to the body. It was the turning point of the fight. From then on, Maidana enjoyed only limited success as Mayweather began to open up with combinations and stinging lead rights from the outside. By the late rounds, Maidana began to falter. With an opponent in front of him resembling a Claymation figure moving in slow motion, Mayweather went to work. He used a jab to the body to keep Maidana off-balance and whipped hard rights over the top. But Maidana, now 35-4 with 31 knockouts, is nothing if not stubborn. He rallied in the twelfth round, grinding from start to finish, but it was not enough to earn the decision.

Judge Michael Pernick scored the bout even at 114-114, judge Dave Moretti tabbed it 116-112, and Bert A. Clements called it 117-111, both in favor of Mayweather, whose flawless record improves to 46-0 with 26 knockouts. Remezcla scored the fight for Mayweather, 116-113.

After the fight, Mayweather, along with his obnoxious entourage—which includes several members of the boxing media—proclaimed his greatness. As sullen as usual, Maidana demanded a rematch in the fewest words possible. This is, after all, a man who does all of his talking with his fists. Willpower, brute force, contempt, and a thudding left hook are his biggest weapons, and, for half-a-dozen rounds at least, they were almost enough to knock Mayweather out of the Big Top.

Carlos Acevedo is the editor of The Cruelest Sport and a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His work has appeared in Boxing Digest Magazine, Maxboxing, Boxing World Magazine, and Esquina Boxeo.