By Jake Donovan
Marcos Maidana fought as well as anyone could have possibly expected in his first fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. The reward for his efforts was the respect of the boxing industry, even in coming up just short in a majority decision loss to the pound-for-pound best in the world.
What's changed in the four months since that night?
That's what we'll have to find out as they do it again Saturday evening at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mayweather (46-0, 26KOs) was pushed to the brink in an exciting fight, and arguably the closest affair of his Hall of Fame-worthy career. At the very least, it was the first time since the first fight with Jose Luis Castillo more than 12 years ago in which the outcome was truly in doubt.
Sure, there were bizarre scores offered in his financially record-breaking wins over Oscar de la Hoya and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez. However, his first fight with Castillo - in which he won the lightweight crown - was legitimately close enough to warrant a return go, which Mayweather clearly won on his terms.
Fast forward to September 2014, and just the second rematch in Mayweather's career.
Maidana (35-4, 31KOs) earned the opportunity to fight Mayweather in May with his exposing of three-division champ Adrien Broner last December. The Argentine brawler had endured ups and downs in his career prior to the point, including a wide points loss to Devon Alexander more than two years ago in a fight that many figured to be his last as a major contender.
Four wins and a hard-fought loss later, he remains near the top of the best welterweights in the world. His effort in May was enough to where he once again contends for the welterweight championship (and thanks to the Mayweather rules, the super welterweight championship as well).
Will Maidana somehow improve on his performance in May, ultimately cracking 'The May-Vinci Code'? Or will Mayweather, even at age 37, find the resources to make things a little (or a lot) easier this time around?
Read on to see how the staff at BoxingScene.com believes tonight's big event goes down.
BOXINGSCENE.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS: FLOYD MAYWEATHER vs. MARCOS MAIDANA
Ryan Burton (Mayweather UD): I think Floyd will adapt after going 12 rounds with Chino while Maidana only has 1 style. I think Floyd stays off the ropes for the part and wins a 117-111 type decision.
Michael Coppinger (Mayweather UD): Floyd Mayweather will have a much easier time with Marcos Maidana this go-around. Mayweather added bulk and won't allow himself to be bullied by the Argentine power-puncher in the rematch. And don't forget, while many thought Jose Luis Castillo beat "Money" in the first bout, Floyd left no doubt in the second fight. Floyd will do the same in this bout, comfortably outpointing Maidana.
Jake Donovan (Mayweather UD): Maidana's claim that he has more room to grow/improve than does Mayweather as the basis for his guaranteeing victory is severely flawed. If anything, I was left with the exact opposite feeling following the first fight: what could Maidana possibly do differently in a rematch? I expect Mayweather to stick to boxing far more in the sequel, though also planting his feet and landing enough power shots to keep Maidana honest whenever things threaten to get rough. I thought Maidana fought as well as he could have in the first fight (exceeding my own expectations), and still had Mayweather winning 115-113. I expect a wider fight this time around, Mayweather cleanly winning at least 8 or 9 rounds and removing all doubt.
John MacDonald (Mayweather UD): Like the first fight, Maidana will have success in spells, unlike the first fight they will be few and far between. Despite the build-up being plagued by debates over literacy and lawsuits, I expect Floyd to make adjustment from their fist fight to win widely on points.
Ryan Maquiñana (Mayweather UD): Marcos Maidana had press row in awe when he took four out of the first five rounds against Floyd Mayweather on several reporters' scorecards. (At least that's what mine read.) But Mayweather dug deep, eventually timed Maidana's advances and combinations, and effectively boxed his way to capturing six of the last seven stanzas. This time, having been aware of the necessary adjustments to approach Maidana's unorthodox brawling style, I think Mayweather wins in clearer fashion -- not unlike the way his rematch with Jose Luis Castillo played out.
Cliff Rold (Mayweather Dec.): Mayweather still knows more about boxing than Maidana will ever learn and he’ll ride through turbulence again. Until someone beats him, there is no reason to pick against Mayweather. Could he lose? It’s possible. It’s more likely he wins a good fight with a little less fun than last time, a little tougher take on the rules from the referee, and a bit more movement early in the fight.
Francisco Salazar (Draw): An eight-week training camp is more effective than a five-month training camp. Raul Robles is an underrated conditioning coach and Mayweather wants to win more decisively. In my opinion, a lot of things are on Mayweather's mind and as great as he is, those things will weigh on his mind in the hours leading up to his fight. Look for Maidana to feint a lot to get Mayweather to open up. There will be some good exchanges, but I'm going out on a limb and say this will end up in a draw.
Reynaldo Sanchez (Maweather UD): Chino has a hard task in Mayweather. In fact it's posible we will see Maidana on the canvas in the rematch.
Alexey Sukachev (Mayweather UD): Floyd is Floyd. And with a power of His Sanctity Al Haymon, with his own pride and with an announced goal to retire with a perfect 49-0 record (talk about Michalczewski/Holmes "curse") - I'm ensured he will cruise to a win against Maidana in a very rough fight. But this time - just it was a case in the second Castillo fight - Mayweather will be a bit finer, a bit craftier and a bit luckier than before to overcome a very determined challenger to his throne.
Anson Wainwright (Mayweather UD): Mayweather has forgotten more than Maidana will ever know and though he looked to have slipped last time out he still found a way to get the victory. It's also reasonable to think that although Mayweather has always managed to block out outside distractions that back in May he was effected by the split up and from Miss Jackson as well as the her having an abortion. I see a more focused Mayweather dealing with Maidana better this time, yes Maidana will have his moments but they'll be for less frequent than in the first go around. I see Mayweather coming through wide on points, something like 118-110.
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