Some boxing analysts are wondering if issues outside of the ring distracted American superstar Floyd Mayweather from his welterweight unification bout against Argentine brawler Marcos Maidana.
Mayweather was dealing with considerable personal stress leading up to the Maidana fight, as he had separated from his girlfriend and former fiancée, Shantel Jackson, whom the boxer also accused of aborting their children.
One day before the bout, Mayweather threatened to cancel the fight over an issue with the gloves that Maidana was going to use.
ESPN’s Brian Campbell and Brett Okamoto both feel that such issues had a greater effect on Mayweather than the American boxer let on.
Okamoto noted that Mayweather’s “two toughest fights” since his brief retirement in 2009 were against Maidana last Saturday and Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto on May 2012. The two fights were similar, he said, in that “Mayweather was dealing with personal stress outside the ring.”
“Before the Cotto fight, Mayweather was granted a temporary reprieve on a 90-day jail sentence in a domestic violence case – and ahead of the Maidana fight, he separated from longtime fiancée Shantel Jackson,” Okamoto wrote.
“In both fights, Mayweather engaged more offensively with his opponents and took more damage than usual,” he added. “Were those performances related to his issues outside the ring? It’s certainly plausible to think they could be.”
Campbell agreed, noting that after both the Cotto and Maidana fights, Mayweather claimed that he chose to stand and trade with his opponents because he wanted to give fans their money’s worth.
“Exactly how (off-ring distractions) affected Mayweather is uncertain,” Campbell wrote. “But he talked of a possible retirement in the final news conference days before the fight, and was emotional in many of his public appearances, often speaking of his career in the past tense.”
“Yes, Mayweather could very well be slowing down just a bit at 37. And yes, Maidana clearly performed at a level much higher than anyone expected,” he added.
“But even though Mayweather impressively dug deep to come away with a victory, this wasn’t the same fighter who pitched near shutouts in 2013 against Robert Guerrero and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.”
But Tim Smith of RingTV wrote that Mayweather “has thrived with distractions in the past, including feuds with his father, Floyd Sr., who has returned to his corner as his trainer.”
Smith added that it was Mayweather who proved capable of adjusting to Maidana’s attack, despite the Argentine’s roughhousing tactics, and landed more punches despite throwing less than half as many blows as Maidana did.
“At the end of the fight, both men jumped on the turnbuckles as if they had won,” Smith wrote. “Perhaps in their hearts, they felt they had. But on the judges’ scorecards, only Mayweather had carried the night.”