LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Undefeated five-division champion Floyd Mayweather Jr claimed a unanimous decision in a feisty encounter against Marcos Maidana to successfully defend three world titles and improve his record to 47-0 on Saturday.
In just the second rematch of his 18-year career, the 37-year-old American came out on top on all three scorecards, retaining his World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight and light-middleweight belts.
The victory was another masterful showcase of evasion from Mayweather, widely regarded as one of the best defensive fighters of all-time, as he danced out of danger and used his lightning counter punching to great effect.
Despite a dominating display Mayweather could only give his performance a C-minus.
”I bring in a game plan, I bring in a team and we gave the fans what they wanted to see,“ said Mayweather, who earned a guaranteed $32 million for his night’s work. ”He’s extremely dirty but rugged.
“It is another fight, another victory time to move on. The saga continues there are a lot of great fighters out there.”
The 12-round bout was not without controversy, however, with Mayweather accusing Maidana (34-5) of biting him, while the American tagged the Argentine with a low blow late in the bout then taunted him as he recovered in a neutral corner.
Mayweather, whose only other rematch came in 2002 against Jose Luis Castillo, executed the perfect game plan, frustrating the 31-year-old Argentine brawler with his speed and sharpness.
Maidana, however, left convinced he had won the fight.
”I‘m very happy to have fought twice against Floyd Mayweather, I think I did a terrific job,“ said Maidana. ”Many have fought against him and I don’t think they did what I was able to do.
”I thought I did enough to win. If the judges like a fighter who runs like Floyd there is nothing I can do about it.
”He’s beatable, you have to attack him. When you attack him he really doesn’t know what to do.
“He is very fast on his feet I will tell you that.”
Maidana employed the attacking tactics that served him well in the majority decision loss in May but failed to do any damage as the elusive Mayweather ducked and weaved away from his hard-hitting opponent’s punches.
By the eighth round, an increasingly frustrated Maidana appeared to bite Mayweather’s arm when they were locked together in a clinch with the champion pulling away, jumping up and screaming at the Argentine.
The referee halted the action so Mayweather could receive attention in his corner as he continued to yell at Maidana, who paid little heed to the fuss as he waited passively for the bout to restart.
”I never bit him, he was rubbing my eyes with his glove,“ Maidana told reporters. ”Maybe he had his glove in my mouth but I did not bite.
“Maybe he thinks I‘m a dog but I did not bite him.”
Mayweather saw the events differently.
”We clenched, we came together my hand went under him and he bit my three fingers,“ said Mayweather. ”My three fingers went numb, I couldn’t feel my fingers the rest of the fight.
“When he first bit me, he acted like he didn’t do it. Then he said I put my hand in his mouth.”
In the 10th round, Maidana was docked a point for sending Mayweather to the canvas with a forearm across the throat and tensions escalated in the 11th when the American landed a low blow and then ordered the Argentine to stop stalling and fight.
The result, with one judge scoring the bout 115-112 while the other two had it 116-111 in the champion’s favor, immediately renewed speculation about a long-awaited super-fight between Mayweather and Filipino great Manny Pacquiao.
“I got to go back and talk to my team, I‘m not ducking or dodging no opponent,” Mayweather responded when asked about the possibility of facing Pacquiao. “If a Pacquiao fight presents itself, let’s make it happen.”
The evening ended in chaos as the sellout crowd tried to exit the MGM Grand Arena through one main entrance where a fight triggered a stampede, sending several people to floor while others struggled to pull them to safety.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries.
It was the second consecutive Mayweather fight at the venue to end in a stampede. After the May 3 bout, several spectators were taken to hospital with injuries.
Editing by John O'Brien/Sudipto Ganguly