May 3rd saw one of the most exciting fights over the past year and eclipsed Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s previous two fights against Canelo Alvarez and Robert Guerrero. Ironically, Mayweather entered the ring as a 10-1 favorite to defeat the Argentine 'warrior' known as El Chino for his brawling tactics. It's the same guy who humiliated Mayweather's protege Adrien Broner last December, knocking the big-mouthed welterweight down twice before cruising to a unanimous decision.
Mayweather's seemingly "controversial" decision over Marcos Maidana was a great fight any way you look at it - one that the public is already demanding to see again. For the second straight fight, Mayweather was not granted a unanimous decision. The final scorecards were as follows:
- 114 - 114 (Even)
- 117 - 111 (Mayweather 9/3)
- 116 - 112 (Mayweather 8/4)
While the 9/3 scorecard (117 - 111) didn't give Maidana credit for what he was able to do in the fight, the 6/6 scorecard (114 - 114) didn't give Floyd credit for his resilience and his ability to adjust to one of the most awkward fighters I've seen in a while. Another issue that Floyd faced was being cut for the first time in his career, and dealing with an inability to see out of one eye for two rounds. But make no mistake about it, Floyd was cut by an accidental head-butt and not a punch.
Has Mayweather Lost a Step?
For years now, boxing commentators, fellow fighters and-the-like have all commented on the Floyd Mayweather of today looking very much like the Floyd Mayweather of seven or eight years ago. Let's face it, Mayweather is 37 years old now. He's no longer "the kid" we saw take the bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics nor the guy who taunted the sport's beloved Oscar De La Hoya in the May-2007 mega-fight. But for whatever he's lost physically, he's more than made up for it mentally. He's a smarter fighter that is more patient, more relaxed, and shows a level of boxing-IQ that you don't see in the young fighters of today. Last night was perhaps the greatest testament to that. A 29 year-old Mayweather likely would have done something last night to cost himself a victory - whether it be lose his composure based on the blood dripping in his eye, or simply panicked opening himself up for a big punch. I have to say that, in-person, Mayweather did not look like he's lost a step as many have since mentioned. His hand speed is simply incredible - the best in the business.
My favorite fighter of all-time is another Jr. - Roy Jones Jr. that is. There's actually a lot of commonalities between the two fighters that go far beyond their inherited namesakes. They both were trained from the crib to be champion fighters and both endured strained relationships with their fathers, only to reconcile the relationships in later years. For years, everybody wondered if Roy could take a punch. One could argue that between 1994 and 2003, Roy never took a real punch - a true testament to his athleticism. But when he finally did take a punch (from Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson), we learned that he really couldn't. Floyd's different - for all of his speed and athleticism, Mayweather has been in some brawls and he has taken some big punches - Shane Mosley rocked him in the second round in May-2010.
He Simply is a Star
I have only recently become a Mayweather fan. Like many, his antics of the past were childish, flamboyant and plain ridiculous. However, his maturity over the years has shown both inside and outside the ropes. He's developed into the type of fighter that draws non-fight fans to the sport - the type of guy that can draw 12,000 people to the weigh-in (yes, the weigh-in). He's a 9-figure guy, no doubt about it. His two fights with Oscar De La Hoya and Canelo Alvarez hold the Pay-Per-View (PPV) record, racking up 2.4M and 2.2M buys, respectively. Prior to joining Showtime, his nine HBO fights racked up a total 9.6M PPV buys and over $540M for the network.
In early 2013, Mayweather signed on with Showtime for his six-fight "farewell" tour - a deal that guarantees him $200M and likely in upwards of $300M with incentives based on PPV buys. The deal has been called "the richest individual athlete deal in all of sports". Based on that deal, he has three fights left in his career and one can only hope that we will see a compromise on the "business barriers" to allow for a Mayweather - Pacquiao showdown, which would likely be the richest boxing match in the history of the sport.
So while you may not like Mayweather, you have to respect the promotion that he brings, which brings stars from all walks-of-life ringside every time he enters the ring. He turns fights into "events" - must-see attractions. Few fighters have transcended the "sweet science" and captured the attention of the world, but those that have are all 9-figure guys.