By Jake Donovan
Prior to this point, Jose Luis Castillo was the only fighter in 18 years to get two shots at handing Floyd Mayweather his first defeat. Like Castillo before him, Marcos Maidana made the most of his first opportunity, pushing Mayweather to the brink before coming up just short on the scorecards.
The fight was entertaining and competitive enough to where the Argentine tough guy gets a chance to do it all again. Maidana isn’t simply content with the September 13 rematch; he embraces the opportunity as a second chance at a lasting impression.
“I think many fighters are obsessed with Mayweather. Everybody wants to fight him because they get the chance to make history if they win. And I want to make history,” Maidana insisted during Tuesday’s press conference in Chicago, the third stop of a five-city press-tour to promote their upcoming rematch at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Many a fighter has talked tough when it came to pondering the prospects of a showdown with the sport’s pound-for-pound and box-office king. Prior to May, none had truly walked the walk. Castillo came closer than anyone, fighting to what many believed to have been a relatively even fight in their April ’02 encounter.
The final outcome – a surprisingly wide outcome for Mayweather, who claimed the lightweight crown as a result – was disputed enough to where a rematch was demanded. Fans got what they wished for, just not entertainment or competitive action to go along with it, as Mayweather won without wasting any energy in their sequel later that year.
There was nothing controversial about the decision in May; Maidana fought his heart out, well enough to force Mayweather to fight every round, and well enough to pull even on one card only to come up short in the eyes of the other two judges.
Few debated the outcome, as most saw it as a close – and well-earned – victory for Mayweather. The fact that he was tested lent as much to the compelling nature of the fight as did the relentless pressure applied by Maidana for all 12 rounds.
Even though Maidana believes he won the fight, the former 140 lb. titlist knows better than to harp on the past. Instead, he revels in the glory bestowed upon him as Mayweather’s toughest challenge to date. He doesn’t rest on his laurels, however, but instead promises to pick up where he left off and add even more to his game, rather than believe what he did the first time is good enough.
“I’m going to have to go for the knockout this time, I have no choice,” Maidana believes. “Floyd’s defense is very good and at times it is hard to hit him. That’s why I want to knock him out. First, I’m going to give him a beating and then I’m going to knock him out. It’s going to be hard to get a decision because he connects well and knows how to score points.
“I’m going to make some technical adjustments, work on my distance and always pressure him. Our camp last time was great, but we just need to make minor adjustments to get the win.”
It’s difficult to say two months prior to the fight whether Maidana can live up to his word. The September sequel with Mayweather marks the first time he gets a shot at avenging a past defeat. His three prior losses were a mixed bag – dropping a controversial split decision to Andriy Kotelnik in their Feb. ’09 title fight; coming up short in a close-but-clear points loss in a thriller with Amir Khan in Dec. ’10; and a wide points loss to Devon Alexander in a Feb. ’12 fight Maidana and his team insist came at the wrong time in his career.
Following the Alexander debacle, Maidana went on to win four straight. The only distance fight over that stretch came in arguably the best win of his career, twice flooring previously unbeaten welterweight Adrien Broner en route to a well-earned decision win last December in San Antonio.
The win over Broner earned Maidana the right to fight Mayweather. The performance in May earned Maidana the right to fight Mayweather again.
“If Floyd thinks the last fight was tough, this fight is going to be even tougher,” promises Robert Garcia, Maidana’s trainer.
Depending on whom you ask, Mayweather is either extremely confident of victory in September, or legitimately threatened by Maidana’s same devil-may-care attitude that led to such an inspiring performance in May.
Through two days and four cities into their press tour, Mayweather has redefined the villain role he’s openly embraced through his years as a superstar fans love to hate. The defending welterweight and super welterweight king has dug deep in hurling insults towards Maidana and more specifically Garcia, a former 130 lb. titlist who has been equally insulting towards his fighter’s in-ring rival.
As for Maidana, he pays it little mind, instead soaking in all of the glory that comes with touring the nation for the biggest fight of his career.
“Floyd is trying to get under our skin, but it’s not going to work,” Maidana promises. “We’re going to do our fighting in the ring and this time we’re going to win. Floyd is trying to make us lose our cool. He’s trying to make us angry so we break concentration. He does it on purpose because he wants to have the upper hand. But his comments don’t affect me at all.
“Floyd can say whatever he wants about me. He knows that I gave him the toughest fight of his life. The only difference is this time I will knock him out. This will be a different fight. He knows what I bring to the table and he knows how I fight. I don’t want to leave any doubt whatsoever. To beat a champion like Floyd you have to knock him out.”
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