The greatest fighter of this century remains perfect.
In front of a sold-out crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather had his hand raised for the 46th consecutive time as he walked away with the majority decision over Marcos ‘El Chino' Maidana on Saturday night.
In the months leading up to this fight, both fans and pundits alike predicted just another one-sided beatdown from Mayweather. After all, he was coming off a 12-round dismantling of Mexican superstar Saul "Canelo" Alvarez last September that not only kept his perfect record in tact, but also left many wondering if they were witnessing the greatest pugilist in history.
Maidana, who was coming off an upset decision victory over Mayweather's friend Adrian Broner, was given little more than a puncher's chance.
But as soon as the opening bell rang, Maidana looked to punch a hole through Mayweather's head. Pushing his opponent against the rope, Maidana surprised everyone in attendance and unloaded an incredible 100 punches in the opening frame. While nothing landed flush, it was definitely enough to earn the round on the judge's scorecard and set the stage for the rest of the 12-round battle.
"That's what he does every fight," Mayweather told reporters when asked if he was surprised by Maidana's aggression. "With me having experience, I just kept my composure ... Everything I do has thought behind it. It's a process."
As the fight progressed, Maidana continued to stalk Mayweather across the ring and looked to press him into the ropes in order to land more powerful combinations. Mayweather, who is known for his defensive wizardry and head movement, surprisingly stood his ground and traded blows from within the pocket.
"I wanted to give the fans an exciting fight," said Mayweather. "Normally when the fans come, I box, I move, I blow a guy out. Tonight I wanted to stand there and fight and give fans their money's worth."
By the end of the fight, Maidana had connected with 221 of his 858 punches, while Mayweather, who landed 230 of his 426 punches, emerged as the more accurate striker. This accuracy was none more apparent than in the later rounds, when Mayweather caught a second wind and kept Maidana at bay with a series of stiff jabs from the outside.
As the final bell rang, both fighters raised their hands in triumph. Maidana looked jubilant, as he truly believed he had handed Mayweather his first professional defeat.
But his smile was quickly wiped away as the judge's scorecards were read.
"I definitely think I won this fight," Maidana said via a translator. "He did dominate some rounds, but the majority of the fight, I dominated them."
Mayweather was much more sportsmanlike to his opponent, even declaring him a "true champion."
"I take nothing away from this guy. He got here somehow, someway. He's a champion, I'm a champion and we did what we had to do tonight."
When asked if he would be willing to accept an immediate rematch with the man many consider to have put him through his most difficult fight to date, Mayweather revealed he would leave it in the hands of his fanbase.
"If the fans want to see it again, then we can do it again."
Maidana quickly chimed in that it would not be Mayweather's decision to grant him the rematch, but rather his own -- since he thought he was the real winner.
"I have to give him a rematch because I won that fight," said Maidana. "I'm not scared of him. Why not give him a rematch?"
But Mayweather had a retort to that.
"If he feels he won, then come September he can get it again," he said.