Floyd Mayweather is the unified WBC and WBA welterweight champion and Britain’s Amir Khan also celebrated a return to the ring in Las Vegas early today, writes Graham Walker.
Khan hopes it will lead to a showdown with the American.
But after Mayweather was given one of the toughest tests of his professional career, in a majority decision victory over Marcos Maidana, a rematch is likely to be his next fight.
He started the overwhelming favourite, to extend his unbeaten record to 46 wins from as many contests, but came under some fierce pressure in the opening rounds from Maidana.
The Argentinian underdog came out swinging and caught Mayweather on a number of occasions although the pound-for-pound king gained the upper hand as the fight went on and finished strongly.
While one judge had the fight level at 114-114, the other two scores were 117-111 and 116-112 in Mayweather’s favour.
Maidana, who suffered the fourth defeat of his 39-fight career, clearly felt he had done enough to have been given the nod and while he threw more punches, it was Mayweather’s unerring accuracy that eventually saw him chalk up yet another win.
Such has been Mayweather’s dominance, few gave Maidana any hope of springing an upset.
But he came charging out of the blocks and an early onslaught had Mayweather backing up in the opening round, while another furious flurry in the third once again gave Maidana the upper hand.
Mayweather appeared stunned by his opponent’s start and although the American was cut for the first time in his career in the fourth round - albeit via a suspected unintentional headbutt - he gradually found his range.
Maidana kept coming forward, but while his wild swings often found fresh air, Mayweather has deadly accurate.
As the fight progressed, Mayweather started to target the body and a vicious punch to the abdomen left Maidana visibly reeling.
Neither fighter came close to forcing a stoppage, however, and Mayweather showed why he is held in such high regard with a commanding display in the championship rounds to seal victory.
While Amir Khan’s superb victory over Luis Collazo earlier in the night appeared to put him on course for a clash with Mayweather, who is now three fights into a six-bout deal with US television network Showtime, the 37-year-old revealed Maidana’s showing could force a re-match.
“This was a tough, competitive fight,” he said afterwards.
“Normally when I fight I box and move. This was a tough fight. I wanted to fight.
“If the fans want to see it again, we will do it again.”
Showing no sign of ring rust as he made a convincing debut in the welterweight division was Amir Khan, with a unanimous decision victory over the durable Luis Collazo.
Khan, who last fought in April 2013, was looking to make a statement in the 147lb ranks as he attempts to lure pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather into a bout in the future.
And the 27-year-old knocked down the experienced Collazo three times in a near punch-perfect performance on the Mayweather-Marcos Maidana undercard in Las Vegas.
Two judges scored the bout 119-104 while the third had it 117-106 to reflect the dominance of Khan, whose superior hand speed proved the difference in a bout that was for the lightly-regarded WBC Silver welterweight title.
A jubilant Khan made no attempt to hide his desire to face the unbeaten Mayweather next.
“Styles make fights and I really believe I have the style to trouble Floyd Mayweather,” Khan said in his post-fight interview.
“Collazo has been beaten but it was always a really close fight (when he fought Shane) Mosley and (Andre) Berto.”
Khan was also quick to pay tribute to trainer Hunter, who has now been in his corner for his last three fights.
“One thing about me training with Virgil Hunter. He taught me some things and I put them together tonight,” Khan added.