With last night's Showtime pay-per-view in the books, let's run down the results yet again, and I'll share my thoughts on how the fighters performed, going a little deeper than the normal, quick recaps, and trying to dig into how effective guys were within these single fights.
To be clear: winners won't always be better graded than losers. A losing fighter may have fought at maximum potential and still lost (spoiler: the main event from last night), while the winner may have not been at his best, but still been good enough to get the win.
And keep in mind this is just the one fight. This is not a grade of these fighters' overall games. Everyone has off nights, or weird nights, or great nights, or extraordinary nights. That's why I think looking at just a single fight can be fun. Careers in boxing go up and down quite easily, from one fight to the next, based often on something as simple as the old adage that styles make fights (they do).
So let's run down The Moment!
Mayweather (46-0, 26 KO) claims that he fought the way he did as a sort of present to the fans, which I think is complete hogwash. He also said at the post-fight press conference that if they do it again, he'll fight his preferred way and make it look easier than it was this time. Maybe he will, but to think that's a given is overlooking the fact that Maidana (35-4, 31 KO) fought extremely well, had the right game plan with trainer Robert Garcia, and gave Mayweather hell in this fight.
Maidana cut off the ring nicely for large portions of the fight, forcing Mayweather to the ropes. The last time we saw Mayweather struggle at all, it was Miguel Cotto putting Floyd on the ropes and in the corners, then looking to unload, giving Mayweather the least possible room to maneuever. Maidana and his team clearly studied that fight. And as mentioned before, it was after the Cotto fight that Mayweather made the decision to replace his uncle Roger with his father as his lead trainer. Coincidence? Probably not.
Mayweather does not like being roughed up or hit, and Maidana hit him more than anyone ever has, according to CompuBox. He also pulled a lot of hard-nosed, sometimes dirty tactics out, with Garcia even telling him in the corner at one point to be dirty. The only way to get to Mayweather is to get him mentally off his game, and Maidana was able to do that better than anyone has in a long, long time -- maybe ever. Well, except for Victor Ortiz.
Maidana had Floyd complaining to referee Tony Weeks pretty consistently, and Mayweather even seemed almost panicked in the corner after he was cut for the first time in his legendary career, as Rafael Diaz worked on the gash. It wasn't the normal Mayweather comfort zone out there.
That said, Floyd did what he always does. He buckled down, settled in, and went to work. He kept himself off the ropes more as the fight went on, and when he did get there, time seemed to slow down for him, as he was able to more effectively slip punches in the later rounds, perhaps picking up some ticks of Maidana's that let him see what shots would be coming.
Was it Mayweather's advancing age that made this fight more difficult? It's possible. Did he really come out looking to make a fight harder than it needed to be? It's highly unlikely. But those ideas don't give credit where I think it's due, and that's with Maidana, Garcia, and the rest of their team. They put together a great game plan, which "Chino" executed tremendously. And Floyd Mayweather is still so good that in the end, he got the win, and deserved it. Mayweather B, Maidana A-.
The 13th Round
The 13th Round
Khan promised a new and improved version of himself after getting a full year to work in the gym with trainer Virgil Hunter between his last fight and this one. While it's unlikely that Khan will ever truly change his ways, he did fight smarter in this outing, which also meant he wasn't as exciting as he's been in the past.
That said, the fight didn't lack for action so much as it just also contained a lot of clinching from Khan (29-3, 19 KO), who dropped Collazo (35-6, 18 KO) three times, once in the fourth round and twice in the 10th, when it appeared he may have been on his way to a stoppage win. He didn't get that, but he did get the wide scorecards in his favor.
Collazo fought a lot more like a guy who lost to Freddy Hernandez five fights ago than a guy who knocked out former welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz in two rounds last time out, and it's surely the more realistic evaluation of the 33-year-old veteran at this stage of his career. Collazo is still awkward and tricky, but Khan had him pretty well solved going in, it seemed, as he used his speed to neutralize just about anything Collazo might have hoped to accomplish.
Luis also wound up fighting a surprising portion of the fight right-handed, which got him beaten up. Collazo tweeted after the fight that he may have broken the pinkie finger of his left hand, which would indeed have been an issue, but either way, Khan had his number pretty much from the get-go in this fight, and mostly dominated the bout. Collazo was outclassed and beaten handily, though I thought he did snake a few rounds here and there, and had him a closer loser than the judges did.
For years, one of the ideas to protect Khan's chin has been for him to mimic, in a smaller version, the style of Wladimir Klitschko, who uses his thundering jab and a healthy (or unhealthy, depending on how you look at it) dose of clutching, clinching, grabbing, grasping, and hugging to keep opponents from landing bombs on his weaker than average beard. Well, we got some of that tonight. Khan can't do exactly what Klitschko does, of course, but he can do a welterweight approximation of it, and I think that's mostly what we saw out of Amir tonight. It wasn't always fun to watch, but it was highly effective, and it may have been the most successful Khan has been as a pro. Khan A-, Collazo D+.
The Can Man beat up another can to the shock of nobody and the delight of nobody but himself and some of his biggest fans, I'd assume. Broner (28-1, 22 KO) in theory had no reason to go a full ten with Molina (17-2-1, 7 KO), but this fight told a lot of tales, and I'm not sure any of them are good news for "The Problem."
One of the things we've discussed recently is that Broner sort of fights at the same level, no matter who he's against. I think he might not totally grasp that Carlos Molina is truly different than Marcos Maidana, or that beating up Gavin Rees and Eloy Perez didn't properly prepare him for someone like Maidana, or even a crafty guy like Paulie Malignaggi.
Molina worked hard in this fight, but without the power to hurt Broner or the skills to stay even with him, there was nothing he could really do. Sooner or later, Broner was going to be allowed to let his physical gifts take over, and that's what we saw. I still only had this 6-4 for Broner, so a 96-94 score, because I felt Adrien basically gave away four rounds of the fight, feeling he was doing much better than he was. Luckily, the judges weren't going to give Molina any benefit of the doubt, or penalize Broner for lackluster rounds.
Broner is a bizarre fighter. The talent is there, but the mentality just is not. And the talent, too, is not quite what he or some critics believe it is, or at least used to believe it is. Broner has hand speed, but so what? Mike Oliver had great hand speed. He fancies himself a master counter-puncher, a true heir to Mayweather, but he just winds up looking a lot like all those guys that Floyd Sr and Roger would try to train to fight The Mayweather Style, only they weren't gifted enough to get away with it. It's a risky way to fight unless you can pull it off, which Floyd can, and a guy like James Toney could in his prime. Most people are simply not nearly talented enough to be an elite fighter with that style, because it doesn't fit.
What I'm saying is that Broner, in his quest to do the greatest imitation of Floyd Mayweather ever, has wound up closer resembling "Wicked" Wes Ferguson than "Money" Mayweather. He gets hit a lot, because he's not good defensively. Against a guy like Carlos Molina, Gavin Rees, Eloy Perez, Vicente Escobedo, he can get away with that. Against a guy like Maidana? He's going to get hurt, because Maidana hits hard. Against a guy like Malignaggi, he winds up tested because he's not actually a better boxer than Paulie, so even without getting hurt, he's getting hit a lot, and the other guy is good enough that he can't just take over when he feels like it, either for good or just in spurts.
Last night, we saw Broner take over in spurts, and clown the rest of the time. He's never going to be the fighter that TV people and promoters wanted him to be. I've seen enough of Adrien Broner at this point that I can say that and truly mean it, and I'll stand by it. If I'm proven wrong, fine, I'll be wrong, but I'm making the firm statement that he will never be a truly elite fighter. He might win some more paper titles, might hype himself into some pay-per-view main events, but when the chips are down against someone who's above mediocrity, he will lose. His upside, I think, is being the next Zab Judah.
As for Molina, he did exactly what I expected he would. He came to fight and didn't roll over, but he was just nowhere near talented enough. If Broner had fought John Molina tonight, he might have lost. John Molina can punch, and he doesn't go away. After two rounds, I thought John Molina could have been huge trouble if he had gotten the fight tonight. We'll never know now, and it's probably wise that they decided to go with the easier Carlos Molina. Broner C-, Molina C.
Love (18-0, 10 KO) gave what I think was his best performance in this fight, as he picked himself up off the canvas, shook the cobwebs, and then made his stand against Periban (20-2-1, 13 KO), a rugged super middleweight contender.
Over the second half of this fight, Love kept what had worked early on and dropped what did not, and what got him into trouble. He also benefited from Periban seemingly blowing his wad during his round five charge, which made the Mexican plodder even slower on his feet than he normally is.
Love's best assets are his legs and his jab, and he used both liberally in this fight. When I say he used his legs, I'm not saying he's a runner. Legs matter in boxing, and not just standing still and throwing bombs really helps people win fights. Love moves very well, has nice footwork when he's on his game, and stays out of the pocket effectively. When he combines that with a very good jab, he looks like a legitimate potential player. When he gets away from his strengths, he looks very average.
Tonight, he used his strengths. He also showed a determination and a fire that I wasn't sure he really had. In past fights, I've criticized Love for sort of lacking that extra gear. I thought he should have made a bigger statement in his win over Vladine Biosse in February, for example, because it was so clear that he was a much more talented fighter than his opponent. He sort of cruised in that one, getting a mercy stoppage in round 10. Against Periban, he grabbed the fight by the throat after he got decked, and he truly won the fight, rather than just winning it, if that makes sense.
Periban, on the other hand, was about as expected. This is the sort of fighter he is. He's tough and he's game, but he's a second-tier super middleweight, and more talented fighters will always beat him so long as they don't get themselves knocked out. There's nothing really wrong with his approach, but he doesn't have the skills to be a top-level guy, nor the destructive power to make up for what he lacks. Some adjustments could be made that make him a better fighter, but chances are what you've seen is what you're going to always get from Periban. Nothing wrong with that, either. Love B+, Periban C+.