LAS VEGAS – It might have been the toughest $32 million Floyd Mayweather Jr. ever made.
Marcos Maidana did everything Saturday night but beat Mayweather, taking him 12 tough rounds before losing a majority decision.
Mayweather remained unbeaten, but not by much. Maidana swarmed all over him from the opening bell and gave him perhaps his toughest fight in a 16-year professional career.
Cut over his eye and temporarily blinded by a head butt in the fourth round, Mayweather had to rally in the last half of the fight to avoid losing for the first time since he was beaten on a controversial decision in the 1996 Olympics.
In the end, though, Mayweather got the win – just as he did in his previous 45 fights in a decision that was met with disbelief by Maidana and booed heavily by the crowd. He retained his welterweight title by winning 117-111 on one scorecard and 116-112 on another. A third judge had it even at 114-114.
The Associated Press scored it for Mayweather 115-113.
Maidana threw far more punches, but Mayweather was more accurate with his as the two battled into the late rounds with the fight still very much in doubt. Cheered on by a large contingent of Argentine fans, Maidana took the fight to Mayweather, who was cut by the right eye in the fourth round by an accidental head butt.
“It was a tough, competitive fight,” Mayweather said. “I normally like to go out there and box and move. But he put pressure on me. I wanted to give the fans what they wanted to see so I stood and fought him.
Maidana raised his arms in victory when the final bell sounded, and Mayweather watched pensively from his corner as the scorecards were added up before he was declared the winner.
“I think I won the fight,” Maidana said. “He didn’t fight like a man.”
Punch stats by Compubox showed Mayweather landing 230 of 426 punches to 221 of 858 for Maidana.
Maidana had a big lead in the early rounds through his constant aggression. But Mayweather won five of the last seven rounds on two scorecards and six of seven on a third to pull out the win by a narrow margin.
“I couldn’t see for two rounds after the head butt,” Mayweather said. “After I could see again it didn’t bother me. That’s what champions do, they survive and adjust.”
“He never hurt me with a punch,” Maidana said. “He wasn’t that tough, I thought I won.”
Maidana, who was cheered by the crowd as he left the ring, said he wanted a rematch, and both promoter Richard Schaefer and Mayweather said he just might get one.