LAS VEGAS - Floyd Mayweather Jr. was all smiles as he headed up an escalator with his large entourage, turning to flash a thumbs-up at fans greeting him.
Mayweather escaped to fight another night, and the fight may be against the man who came closest to handing him the first defeat of his 16-year pro career.
Marcos Maidana nearly did what 45 other fighters couldn't, taking the fight to Mayweather before losing a 12-round majority decision in their welterweight title fight Saturday night that angered both the Argentine and the fans at MGM Grand arena.
Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) was hit more than any bout in his career, and needed to rally from the middle rounds on to keep his unbeaten record. Maidana (35-3, 31 KOs) called the richest fighter in the world an ordinary boxer and said he deserved a rematch in September.
"If the fans want to see us do it again, we'll do it again," Mayweather said.
Maidana threw twice as many punches, but Mayweather was more efficient in landing more than half his shots in a fight where the 37-year-old was tested to the limit. Mayweather won five of the last seven rounds on two scorecards and six of the last seven on the third to pull out the win.
Bleeding from a cut by his right eye from a head butt in the fourth round that he said blinded him for two rounds, Mayweather had to reach deep into his bag of tricks to salvage what had been expected to be a relatively easy, $32 million pay- day against the 6-1 underdog.
Mayweather said he decided to stand inside and fight Maidana to please the fans.
"I was in a tough competitive fight," Mayweather said. "I normally like to go out there and box and move. But he put pressure on me, so that's when I decided I'd make it competitive and fight differently. I wanted to give the fans what I know they wanted to see, so I stood there and fought him."