Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Another Lesson In Boxing At The Hands Of Floyd Mayweather

What are the circumstances that lead to a rematch? More often than not a rematch comes about due to a close decision in a fight where there is a difference of opinion as to who won and/or a controversial outcome that warrants a return encounter. The build up to the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana rematch had all the ingredients that warrants a rematch.

The first fight was highly competitive and the underdog Maidana not only proved that he belongs among the elite of the sport, but also created an element of doubt in regard to Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather, the fighter widely considered the best pound for pound fighter in the world had rarely been pushed to the limit that Maidana had pushed him in their first encounter this past May.

Maidana not only pressured  Mayweather for twelve rounds, but he also created a difference of opinion as to who won the fight. Clearly the rematch between the two was warranted and for Boxing fans came at an appropriate time. The first encounter between the two was to unify the WBC and WBA Welterweight world championships. The rematch would have some historical significance.

Not only was Mayweather’s unified WBC/WBA world Welterweight championship at stake, but a piece of Mayweather’s unified Jr. Middleweight championship was also on the line as the WBC world Jr. Middleweight championship was also at stake. This made the rematch historical as it is only the second time in Boxing history that world championships in different weight classes were on the line in the same fight.

On November 7, 1988 WBC Light-Heavyweight world champion Donny Lalonde defended his title against the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lalonde-Leonard had not only Lalonde’s Light-Heavyweight world championship at stake, but also the newly created WBC Super- Middleweight world championship. Although Leonard was favored over the bigger and theoretically stronger Light-Heavyweight world champion Lalonde, the fight exceeded expectations with Leonard getting up off the canvas in the fourth round to stop the “Game” Lalonde in the ninth round, in what was in this observer’s opinion one of the best fights of the 1980s.

Twenty-six years later on September 13, 2014 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada a highly anticipated rematch took place that would join Lalonde-Leonard in holding a rare place in Boxing history. Some may be of the opinion however, that this fight between Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana failed to live up to expectations.

Maidana in contrast to the first fight, did not begin the rematch pressuring Mayweather and throwing punches with reckless abandon. This fight began at a more tactical pace which allowed Mayweather to utilize his lateral movement and to be elusive. The jab that worked well for Maidana in the first fight in pressuring Mayweather back to the ropes was absent in the early going. Mayweather meanwhile by using his movement was able to avoid being caught on the ropes for extended periods of time early on, which differed significantly from the first fight.

Although Mayweather established solid lateral movement from the outset of this fight the question would be whether he could maintain his movement for the full twelve rounds. Mayweather however, by using his movement and quick hands was able to dictate how the fight was being fought and was able to keep Maidana from establishing consistent pressure. One thing that was noticeable from very early on in this fight was whenever Maidana would get on the inside, Mayweather immediately tied him up and prevented him from being able to let his hands go.

Mayweather’s ability to get his punches off first, be an elusive target, and land right hands on Maidana with precision accuracy was the story of this fight in my opinion. Maidana was not able to make Mayweather stay stationary and was unable to cut the ring off. Maidana’s best chance for success in this fight in my opinion was to repeat how he approached the first half of the first fight. Simply put, against a fighter with the precision timing, quickness, and lateral movement like Mayweather you cannot be successful if you cannot back that fighter up for consistent periods of time. Mayweather was able to avoid being caught on the ropes and was able to keep the fight in a distance where he could control it.

Maidana however, was always dangerous and briefly staggered Mayweather at the end of the third round with a straight right hand. Maidana continued applying more pressure and did have some success getting Mayweather back along the ropes in round four. Despite having a strong fourth round, Maidana could not build consistent momentum and when he was able to get close to Mayweather, he was consistently beat to the punch and did not seem to have an answer to avoid Mayweather’s right hand

Although this was in essence a tactical fight from start to finish and even though some may not find Floyd Mayweather’s Boxing style entertaining, it is important to remember that Mayweather is a boxer and should make full use of his skills and try to avoid putting himself at an unnecessary risk when he is able to outbox his opponent. This was essentially a chess match and Mayweather’s Boxing IQ was on full display.

There may be some who may choose to criticize Mayweather for the amount of holding he did in this fight, but this observer will not be one of them. He was able for the most part to fight his fight and keep Maidana from being able to be consistently effective by clinching him when he got close. There may also be those who might choose to criticize Referee Kenny Bayless for allowing Mayweather to hold as much as he did in this fight.

An element of controversy would emerge late in round eight when Mayweather complained that he was bit by Maidana on his left hand following a brief clinch where Maidana’s head was under Mayweather’s arm. There have been instances of a fighter being bit before during fights. This instance however, might be best described as strange because it is hard to imagine a fighter who was wearing a mouthpiece being able to bite through a Boxing glove. Whether or not Maidana did in fact bite Mayweather is a question that only they can answer. In the many years that I have covered the sport however, I will say that this was a first for me to see a fighter claim to have been bitten through the glove. As strange as this period of the fight was it would not affect the outcome as the fight resumed after a brief delay.

As the fight progressed Maidana clearly appeared frustrated by being unable to execute consistently. A sign of this frustration was demonstrated when he shoved Mayweather down to the canvas in round ten. A move which resulted in a point deduction by Referee Kenny Bayless. Mayweather would himself be warned by Bayless in the eleventh round for hitting Maidana with a low blow. Mayweather would go on to win a convincing unanimous decision in a fight that I unofficially scored in his favor 116-111.

This fight may not have lived up to it’s title of “Mayhem”, but at the end of the day Floyd Mayweather did what he had to do. He used an effective fight plan and executed it almost perfectly. It may not necessarily be entertaining, but as Mayweather has demonstrated for now the forty-seventh time as a professional having never been defeated, his main objective is to win.

What’s next for Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana? For Mayweather’s part he stated after the fight that he intends to fight in May 2015. Who Mayweather will face when that time comes is anyone’s guess, but almost certainly speculation will continue about a potential fight against Manny Pacquiao. Before such a fight can be made however, Pacquiao must first successfully defend his WBO world Welterweight championship against undefeated WBO Jr. Welterweight champion Chris Algieri on November 22nd in Macau, China.

As for Marcos Maidana, he is still a viable contender and former world champion in the Welterweight division. It will be interesting to see where Maidana might reemerge coming out of this fight. A rematch against Adrien Broner could be viewed as a possibility. Other options could include possible fights with the likes of IBF champion Shawn Porter, or top contenders Amir Khan or Keith Thurman, both of whom are possible Mayweather opponents down the line.

Floyd Mayweather emerges from his rematch against Marcos Maidana still undefeated now 47-0, with 26 Knockouts. The Boxing world will continue to ask the question is there anyone who can solve the Mayweather puzzle?

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

The Boxing Truth® is a registered trademark of Beau Denison All Rights Reserved.

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