When Floyd Mayweather declared on February 24 that he would be fighting Marcos Maidana most fans and media saw it as a another cakewalk for the man that is considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
Some even dubbed the fight ‘Mayweather-Baldomir II’ after the 2006 fight with another fighter from Argentina, Carlos Baldomir, which became a glorified sparring session.
This was supposed to be another easy night of work, all part of the plan to be named among the best fighters of all time.
Well, Saturday night didn’t exactly go as planned.
Maidana from the opening bell came at Mayweather and didn’t back down. He was throwing punches as he often does from awkward angles, some of them landing.
Mayweather as he always does made the necessary adjustments and landed the more accurate punches, but something was different about this fight. His technical skills were not able to consistently build the fight swinging momentum that caused previous opponents to hesitate when coming forward. Even after landing solid combinations Maidana kept coming more often than not. He even suffered the first cut in his 18-year career, albeit from an accidental headbutt.
In the end Mayweather received a majority decision with two judges giving him sizeable margins of victory with the third judge having the fight be a draw. Despite the victory he saw something in the ring that rarely, maybe even never, happens to him on Saturday night.
Mayweather saw in Maidana an opponent that had no fear of him before, during, and after the fight.
This wasn’t more evident than after the fight. In the immediate post-fight interview and press conference Maidana didn’t have the awe that most Mayweather opponents show about just being in the same ring with him after fights. Instead Maidana was calm in the interview while stating that he felt he won the fight and remained so in the press conference.
In the press conference it was evident that Mayweather was bothered by this. He had become accustomed to his opponents being dejected at not being able to crack as he dubbed it ‘the May Vinci Code’ while still being grateful for the opportunity. That normally lets Mayweather have an air of cool invincibility. This time though his opponent wasn’t dejected and didn’t seem to just be grateful to be there. Maidana simply said “Enough words. Just give me the f—ing rematch.”
A rematch in September, Mayweather’s usual time for late year matches, is very likely due to how this fight turned out. While being more than twice as accurate with less punches, Mayweather was still hit with more punches from Maidana than in any of his other fights. Add to that the genuine connection that Maidana has built with the vast majority of the Latino boxing fan base and you have what will make a rematch possible. The fight would also be much easier to sell since it’s evident that it won’t be a cakewalk for either man.
Should they meet again Mayweather now knows that he’ll be facing a man that is different from his previous opponents.
Maidana is just not scared and not much was done on Saturday night to have him start being scared.