Photo Credits: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME, Stephanie Trapp/Mayweather Promotions, Idris Erba/Mayweather Promotions
LAS VEGAS – After 24 rounds of boxing with Marcos Maidana, Floyd Mayweather is still the undisputed pound-for-pound champion.
Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) successfully defended his WBC and WBA Welterweight and WBC Super Welterweight World Championships with a unanimous 12-round decision victory in a rematch with Argentine slugger Maidana (35-5, 31 KOs) on Saturday in front of 16,144 fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, live on SHOWTIME PPV.
“Money” strategically fought the fight that he wanted, effectively avoiding the looping punches against the ropes that “El Chino” was able to land in their first bout and pivoting back to his domain – the center of the ring.
The five-division world champion was decidedly more effective and efficient, landing 58 percent of his power punches compared to Maidana’s 26 percent. The 37-year-old also landed 43 percent of his jabs compared to 17 percent for Maidana and 51 percent of his total punches compared to Maidana’s 22 percent.
Unlike their first meeting in May – a majority decision for the 11-time world champion – there was no controversy in the judges’ decisions. Judge Guido Cavalleri had the fight 115-112 while Dave Moretti and John McKaie scored it 116-111.
“He’s a tough opponent and I did what I had to do tonight,” Mayweather said. “I just didn’t stay on the ropes. I have a couple bumps and bruises because he’s a wild young fighter. My father told me to hit and not get hit and that’s what we did.
“I felt sharper in the first fight. I felt a little dry and dead in this fight. I give myself a C, a C-minus. I could have been better. I got hit with some shots tonight that I shouldn’t have gotten hit with. But that comes with the sport.”
Maidana disagreed with the decision but didn’t plead for a third showdown.
“I thought I won the fight but if the judges want to give the fight to a guy who runs that’s their decision,” Maidana said. “I feel like I was the aggressor and I kept applying the pressure. He kept holding and pushing and the ref never did anything about it. Instead, the ref took a point away from me.”
While the decision was clear, the fight was not without controversy. Frustrated with Mayweather’s clinching, Maidana seemingly bit his opponent’s left hand in the eighth round, causing a break in the fight while referee Kenny Bayless inspected the champ’s gloves.
“He bit my fingers so my fingers were numb,” Mayweather said. “After the 8th round my hand was numb and I really couldn’t use my left hand.”
“Maybe he thinks I’m a dog, but I never bit him,” Maidana said. “He was rubbing my eyes with his glove. Maybe he had his glove in my mouth, but I don’t think I bit him.”
After the fight, SHOWTIME reporter Jim Gray asked Mayweather if he would like a fight with eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao.
“I’m not ducking or dodging any opponent,’’ Mayweather said. “If the Manny Pacquiao fight presents itself let’s make it happen. I don’t know who I’ll fight in May but I expect to fight. Manny needs to focus on the guy that’s in front of him. Once he gets past that task we’ll see what the future holds.”
Undefeated WBC Super Bantamweight World Champion Leo Santa Cruz (28-0-1, 16 KOs) made the third successful defense of his title in the co-feature, registering a second-round TKO at 55 seconds with a straight right hand that floored Miguel Roman (17-3-3, 6 KOs).
“I trained really hard and I did what I had to do to give the fans a great fight,” Santa Cruz said. “If I had to finish fast that’s what I had to do. I just came to do my job. We train hard in the gym to make it easy in the ring.’’
After the fight, the two-division world champion called out WBA and WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Guillermo Rigondeaux.
“I want Guillermo Rigondeaux,” Santa Cruz said. “I’m not scared of him. I want my manager to make the fight so I can prove I’m the best.”
Roman, who was Santa Cruz’s former sparring partner, was disappointed after losing the biggest fight of his career.
“I got caught with a right,” Roman said. “He just caught me. What can I say? There’s nothing else.”
Mickey Bey dethroned defending IBF Lightweight World Champion Miguel Vazquez with a 12-round split decision victory, scored 115-113 Bey, 115-113 Vazquez and 119-109 Bey, in an extremely tactical match.
Vazquez (34-4, 33 KOs) was riding a 13-fight win streak and making the seventh defense of his title against Bey (21-1-1, 10 KOs), who became the second fighter under the Mayweather Promotions banner to win a world title.
“I’m No. 1 in the lightweight division,’’ Bey said. “He was No. 1 and now it’s me. I’m not surprised that I won, I’m just really happy. He was head-butting and holding the entire time. I won every round and I beat him with one hand (hurt his right). I told my team I wasn’t going to slip and now I’m No. 1 in the division.’’
Vazquez landed 89 total punches and connected on only 22 percent of his shots compared to Bey’s 81 punches and 21 percent.
“It was a good fight and Mickey Bey was a dignified opponent.” Vazquez said. “He fought strong but I anticipated he would fight that way. I don’t have much to say. A win is a win, what can I say. I thought the fight was close. I thought I won.”
In the opening bout of the PPV telecast, James De La Rosa (23-2, 13 KOs) handed Alfredo Angulo (22-5, 18 KOs) his third consecutive loss in a 10-round unanimous decision, scored 98-90, 96-92 and 99-89. De La Rosa was more active and accurate, landing 41 percent of his power punches in the most significant victory of his career.
In a live bout on “COUNTDOWN LIVE: Mayweather vs. Maidana 2,” Humberto Soto (65-8, 35 KOs) won an upset foul-filled unanimous 10-round decision John Molina Jr. (27-5, 22 KOs). The junior welterweight scrap was scored 96-91 and 95-92 twice.
Mayweather-Maidana and Santa Cruz-Roman will air on SHOWTIME next Saturday, Sept. 20 at 9 p.m. ET/P T immediately followed by the premiere of ALL ACESS: Mayweather vs. Maidana 2 Epilogue.