By Jake Donovan
Floyd Mayweather still lacks a confirmed opponent for a tentatively scheduled September 13 ring return, but there appears a glimmer of hope for progress.
Marcos Maidana, who gave Mayweather all that he could handle in dropping a majority decision this past May in Las Vegas, confirmed weeks worth of speculation of his status as the leading candidate to once again land the assignment.
“The rematch is in negotations,” Maidana confirmed through his verified Twitter account Tuesday morning. “Respect for Floyd Mayweather for being a man of his word, but when we are in the ring only our fists will do the talking.”
The news comes on the heels of Mayweather offering a tease that the rematch was set while being interviewed during pre-awards red carpet coverage for the BET Awards Sunday evening in Los Angeles.
Maidana (35-4, 31KOs) earned the first fight thanks to a strong 2013 campaign that included a knockout win over Josesito Lopez and, more importantly in the grand scheme of things, a major upset decision win in his rout over previously unbeaten Adrien Broner. The latter win propelled the Argentine brawler over previously slated favorite Amir Khan to land the May 3 assignment versus Mayweather.
Khan wound up fighting on the May 3 undercard at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, looking impressive in a decision win over former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo. However, the British boxer stressed after the fight that while a showdown with Mayweather was at the top of his list, he would not be able to fight in September due to his not being able to train during Ramadan, the holy period (which began June 28) in which Muslims are required to fast.
The list of viable candidates for Mayweather (46-0, 26KO) is limited due to a number of reasons, namely his exclusive contract with Showtime and his refusal to work with former promoter Bob Arum.
A monkey wrench was thrown into his plans for a September 13 return when Golden Boy Promotions imploded during the spring. Mayweather has his own promotional company (Mayweather Promotions) but has used Golden Boy’s promotional license dating back to his May ’07 win over Oscar de la Hoya. The relationship was always based on his close ties to Richard Schaefer, who resigned from his role as CEO of Golden Boy Promotions on June 2.
Schaefer’s departure was followed by an official announcement from Mayweather and his team that they would no longer do business with Golden Boy Promotions. However, Oscar de la Hoya – President of Golden Boy and who has assumed full control of his company over the course of the past month – claims that Mayweather Promotions brass has since retracted such comments.
The willingness of the two sides to do business together is key, since Golden Boy – and not Mayweather – has a hold for the MGM Grand on September 13. However, the date was reserved with the intention of Mayweather fighting that night, following a similar pattern from 2013 in which he fought in May and September.
Mayweather’s win over Maidana serves as the highest-grossing pay-per-view event of 2014 to date, although all indications suggest final sales – which were never released or fully confirmed by Golden Boy Promotions, Mayweather Promotions or Showtime – were underwhelming in relation to the hefty price tag attached to the card.
The May 3 show marked Mayweather’s third fight under an exclusive six-fight deal with Showtime, which was penned in 2013 after having spent the lion’s share of his career with HBO. Mayweather’s first fight under the deal was a 12-round points win over Robert Guerrero, an event that was good for the 2 nd biggest seller of 2013 but struggled from a marketing standpoint.
That changed dramatically in the next Mayweather sighting, in which he defeated Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez last September. The fight was confirmed in late May, giving the event more than three months to properly promote, including a 12-day tour that hit several key cities in the United States and also visiting Mexico along the way. Mayweather’s status as the sport’s best fighter in the world and leading box-office attraction, coupled with Alvarez’ massive popularity in Mexico and growing star status in the United States led to the show becoming the highest grossing event in boxing history.
Rather than take note of what led to success, Mayweather and his team instead waited until late in the game to confirm Maidana as his opponent for May, an odd approach considering it was basically a two-horse race. The same pattern appears to hold true for his next ring appearance, if in fact he winds up fighting on September 13.
At the very least, enough progress has finally been made for parties involved to finally begin talking about the next step.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox