IT was billed as Mayhem but it quickly turned to madness as Marcos Maidana saw red and the air turned blue with 30 seconds remaining in the eighth round. “He bit my f***king fingers”. The incredulous words of an utterly bemused champion as Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather Jnr spun in the direction of referee Kenny Bayless. The man in the middle simply looked on in a state of perpetual confusion as to what may have just happened.
Whilst the perceived gnawing activity in question hardly matched the depravity of Mike Tyson’s infamous ear-nibbling of Evander Holyfield, it was a desperate act that suggested the Argentine hard man knew his time was nearing its conclusion at the table of boxing’s greatest current protagonist.
A penny for the thoughts of ‘Iron Mike’ sitting at ringside whose carnivorous tendencies accounted for a sizeable chunk of Holyfield’s right ear in this very arena a little over 17 years ago. It appeared the cumulative frustration of hitting thin air had gotten to the South American slugger too, for this was a very different Mayweather to the one that he’d encountered just four short months ago on the Las Vegas strip.
Showtime commentator Paulie Malignaggi could sympathise with the challenger’s plight as he perceived Floyd’s glove to be conveniently covering the Margarita native’s mouth and nasal passage prior to the incident. The video evidence is murky but the sudden reaction of Money to the alleged bite, not withstanding his potentially sinister tactics, looked damning for Maidana. There may have been issues with the pair’s gloves leading into their first bout, but this seemed a tenuous reason for close-up inspection by ‘Chino.’
Mayweather’s latest triumph moved him past Hall of Famer Joe Calzaghe’s mark of 46-0 and within two of Rocky Marciano’s immortal 49-0 ledger with a majestic display of pugilism.
The second contest may have lacked the dramatic thrills and claret-filled spills of their first Nevada showdown, but that won’t have bothered the Michigan native as he pocketed the rounds with the chillingly cool efficiency of a contracted hitman.
Maidana had his moments, catching the champion with a sweet right on the break to close out the third round and largely dominated the fourth stanza, replicating his rough-house tactics that were so effective in May.
That said, Mayweather’s dazzling counter-punching and balletic movement of foot ensured that the sporadic Argentine wind-milling would enjoy only very limited success in the second third of the fight. Chino would somewhat harshly have a point taken off for wrestling Money to the deck in the ninth having received no obvious prior warning from Bayless. If the challenger was confused at the deduction, it clearly showed, as he waltzed towards the neutral corner at the round’s conclusion only to be sarcastically and somewhat cruelly pointed back in the correct direction by his tormentor-in-chief.
Taking into account the deduction, the judges‘ scorecards looked more than a mite generous to the man from Sante Fe Province as two tallied scores of 116-111 and the other carried a distinct waft of Argentine sympathy at 115-112.
Whilst not in the delusional sphere of CJ Ross’s utterly fanciful 114-114 tally for another Mayweather masterclass dished out with such disdain to Canelo Alvarez 364 days previous, the judges’ scorecards still seemed to stretch subjectivity to the limits. Compare this to the previous week’s judging in Belfast and we had the other extreme as IBF super-bantamweight king, Kiko Martinez, was deemed a 119-108 loser to Carl Frampton on two of the three cards in what was surely the most competitive virtual ‘shut-out‘ in recent years.
It seems as though Mayweather’s rapier jabs and dazzling combinations are not impressing the judges like they used to. In two of his previous three contests, the self-proclaimed TBE, ‘The Best Ever‘ has earned two majority decisions over Alvarez and Maidana when utterly dismantling the former before eventually dominating the latter first time around.
Whilst some observers viewed Mayweather as fortunate to get the nod over Jose Luis Castillo at the second second time of asking 12 years ago and in receipt of lady luck’s charms Flwhen obtaining the split verdict over Oscar de la Hoya in 2007, this seems scant reason to readdress the retributive balance now. Indeed, given these recent scoring aberrations, it may be time for Floyd to make good on his pre-fight promise to finish proceedings early for want of being dealt a harsh future hand of judging Russian roulette.
Having emerged victorious for a 47th time and completed the fourth piece of his vastly lucrative six-fight Showtime jigsaw, Money now eyes up the tantalising prospect of finishing his $200 million deal on the same 49-0 mark as the aforementioned Marciano. A fate denied to heavyweight great Larry Holmes when losing a split verdict for his IBF gong to the organisation’s then light-heavyweight boss Michael Spinks in 1985, snapping his 48-fight unbeaten record.
Speaking in uncharacteristically mundane tones last week, Mayweather insisted that he will indeed retire on the expiry of his current contract next September. However, should his next two foes go the same way as his previous 45 (Castillo and Maidana being the only men to lure Floyd through the ropes twice) the temptation for a man purporting to be ‘The Best Ever’ to go for an unblemished half century would surely prove too much to resist.
For a man who has trailblazed his way through five weight divisions, collecting belts like a philatelist’s gathers stamps, the chance to confirm that brash moniker, statistically speaking at least, would surely be worth the Money.