By Ivan G. Goldman
Lot of fans, including writers and analysts, are giving Marcos Maidana more credit than he deserves, although he deserves plenty. Floyd Mayweather beat him fair and square, and until somebody proves otherwise in the ring, he still deserves his ranking as the best welterweight in the world.
Photo: USA Today
At this point in his remarkable career there may be guys out there who on the right night under the right circumstances can beat him – I’m thinking Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter and yes, Manny Pacquiao – but unfortunately it’s most unlikely that Mayweather will ever fight any of them.
Maidana showed Floyd no respect, made a real fight out of it, and forced him out of his comfort zone, but he couldn’t hang with the champ for twelve rounds. He ran out of gas and his sloppy attack got sloppier while Mayweather, ducking, moving, and fighting well off the ropes, drilled his man with the same precise shots he’s been throwing for his entire career. They’re not murder shots, but they can bust an opponent up and plant doubt in his mind.
To those who say the scores could have gone either way I say show me seven rounds Maidana won. You can’t. You’re either scoring improperly or you’re letting your emotions and/or desires run away with you. Scoring a fight calls for cold reason and impartiality. Here’s a quick review for either brush-up or introduction:
You have four judging criteria – effective punching, effective aggression, ring generalship, defense. Their order is crucial because if someone wins in the first category, only then do you look at the second. If you believe the round was equal for the first two categories, then you take into account the third, and so on. It’s a rare round that requires a good judge to consider category two, much less three or four. Effective punching is almost always the whole enchilada in every round.
The winner of the round gets 10 points, the loser nine, with exceptions. You must score any knockdowns or point deductions called by the referee, and if you feel one fighter totally dominated his opponent for an entire round you can make it 10-8 even without a knockdown. You try hard to avoid scoring any round a draw because if you watch closely and remember and think hard you can probably find at least a small edge for one fighter. That’s how it works — period. You now know more about judging than some on-screen luminaries whose analysis reveals their ignorance. Not all of them, thankfully. Many really know their stuff.
Not that it makes me an expert, but I do have a judge’s license (expired) in my office. I went through a grueling series of classes to get it. They were taught by masters – virtuosos who donated their time for the love of the sport. They also let some of us sit next to them as they worked, explaining how they made their decisions. I’ll mention only the two that have passed on – Lou Filippo and Larry Rozadilla.
I don’t claim that all my scores are perfect. No one can. That’s why there are three judges on three sides of the ring. But some fights are easier to score than others. Maidana-Mayweather contained perhaps three rounds that could have gone either way. I marked two as very close and had it 116-112 Mayweather.
Now back to Mayweather. He will apparently take three more fights. I guarantee you he’d rather face Maidana three more times than make those fights against Porter, Thurman, and Pacquiao. It’s because he picks opponents more carefully than a great champion should that I’m really not sure how he ranks on the list of all-time greats.
No one should try to rank fighters on that list if they’re not familiar with all the other candidates. Most of the people who tell you, for example, that Sugar Ray Robinson was the greatest of all time have never seen more than two or three snippets of him on film. They’re blowhards and fakes repeating what other people told them.
The current pound-for-pound list is easier to rank because it doesn’t require hunting down scratchy old films, but it’s still not easy because you’re ranking fighters who will never compete against each other — although there are sadists who deny Mayweather credit because he doesn’t fight middleweight Gennady Golovkin. No one should have to fight out of his weight class to prove himself.
I’d probably rank super middleweight champion Andre Ward ahead of Mayweather pound for pound because he defeats everyone, rarely loses a round, and proved by entering and winning Showtime’s super middleweight tournament that he’ll fight anybody. Floyd wouldn’t compete in a tournament like that if you offered him a hundred million. It would mean discarding his entire strategy of carefully weighing money against risk before deciding on an opponent.
But Mayweather deserves credit for his great accomplishments, including his stellar ability to attract fans to his fights. When he’s gone from the scene even his most ardent critics will probably miss him.
Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in 2013 by Potomac Books, a University of Nebraska Press imprint. It can be purchased here.