By Cliff Rold
There have been fair times for criticism over the years about Floyd Mayweather and his opponent selection. This shouldn’t be one of them.
For the second time in his career, he faced someone that left enough of an impression over twelve rounds that there was debate about who really won the fight, if anyone did. The last time that happened, against Jose Luis Castillo, Mayweather went right back at him and cleared matters up.
With a limited amount of fights left on his deal at Showtime, and some assuming he will retire at its conclusion (this being boxing, take it all with a grain of salt), there could have been a new, fresh face across the ring on the Showtime side of the Welterweight bracket. The difference between the fresh faces, and Maidana, is that they all want a shot at the brass ring based on what they’ve done against the men they’ve been fighting.
Maidana had the opportunity to earn a second chance before their first in the ring with Mayweather himself.
Mayweather has failed to win on three scorecards in his entire career. That’s astonishing in a career with almost as many decision wins as knockouts. Those cards were hogwash in split decision wins over Oscar De La Hoya and Canelo Alvarez.
The majority decision over Maidana, which rewarded Maidana an even score, was well within reason.
Maidana earned this shot. Will this sequel end up a trilogy?
Let’s go to the report card.
Titles: Lineal World Welterweight Champion (2010-Present, 3 Defenses); WBC Welterweight (2011-Present, 2 Defenses); WBA “Super” Super Welterweight (2012-Present, 1 Defense); Ring Magazine Welterweight (2012-Present, 1 Defense); WBC Super Welterweight (2013-Present, 1st Attempted Defense); Lineal/TBRB/Ring World Jr. Middleweight (2013-Present, 1st Attempted Defense); WBA “Super” Welterweight (2014-Present, 1st Attempted Defense)
Previous Titles: Lineal/WBC Jr. Lightweight (1998-2002, 8 Defenses); Lineal/Ring/WBC Lightweight (2002-04, 3 Defenses); WBC Jr. Welterweight (2005); IBF Welterweight (2006); Lineal/Ring/WBC Welterweight (2006-08, 1 Defense); WBC Jr. Middleweight (2007);
Hails from: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Record: 46-0, 26 KO
Record in Major Title Fights: 24-0, 10 KO including lineal title contests
Current/Former World Champions Faced: 20 (Genaro Hernandez RTD8; Gregorio Vargas UD12; Diego Corrales TKO10; Carlos Hernandez UD12; Jesus Chavez TKO9; Jose Luis Castillo UD12, UD12; DeMarcus Corley UD12; Arturo Gatti RTD6; Sharmba Mitchell TKO6; Zab Judah UD12; Carlos Baldomir UD12; Oscar De La Hoya SD12; Ricky Hatton TKO10; Juan Manuel Marquez UD12; Shane Mosley UD12; Victor Ortiz KO4; Miguel Cotto UD12; Robert Guerrero UD12; Saul Alvarez MD12; Marcos Maidana MD12)
Previous Titles: WBA Light Welterweight (2011); WBA Welterweight (2013-14)
Hails from: Jose Leon Suarez, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Record: 35-4, 31 KO
Rankings: #4 (BoxingScene, BoxRec); #5 (TBRB, ESPN, Ring)
Record in Major Title Fights: 2-3, 1 KO (7-3, 4 KO including interim title fights)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: 8 (Andriy Kotelnik L12; Victor Ortiz TKO6; DeMarcus Corley UD12; Amir Khan L12; Erik Morales MD12; Devon Alexander L10; Adrien Broner UD12; Floyd Mayweather L12)
Pre-Fight: Speed – Mayweather A-; Maidana B-
Pre-Fight: Power – Mayweather B; Maidana A
Pre-Fight: Defense – Mayweather A+; Maidana C+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Mayweather A+; Maidana A
One of the surprises of the first fight was how Maidana was able to use his jab against Mayweather. Another was how dirty he was willing to get to win. It amused some, but attempting to knee an opponent is overtly dirty stuff.
That doesn’t mean Mayweather isn’t rough. He’s always been free with the elbow/forearm shove. There was a great moment in the first fight where both men drove their forearms towards each other’s throats. On the break, they nodded at each other and went back to work.
Fire with fire was treated with mutual respect.
Expect referee Kenny Bayless to address the rough stuff early.
Assuming we don’t have another glove controversy, Maidana will have a chance to train knowing what mitts to expect this time. Could that mean better power delivery than the first time? If, as he’s claimed, he was uncomfortable with the gloves forced on him (despite commission approval of the second pair of gloves he offered in the first fight), then let’s hope that isn’t an issue here. No, he won’t use Everlast MX gloves but his trainer seems fine with the Powerlock gloves Leonard Ellerbe has stated Maidana will be using.
Mayweather, after long stretches on the ropes and generally low punch output early, found an answer to Maidana with a jab to the body, better movement, and accurate counters as Maidana tired. Will Maidana have an answer to the downward jab this time?
That’s part of the fun of rematches. Both guys know what worked for them the first time.
They also know what worked against them.
In a good rematch, we see new adjustments to old tricks. In a bad rematch, we see the better fighter stick with what got them out of trouble the first time and find out the game underdog already did the best he could. Does Maidana have a new wrinkle?
At 37, does Mayweather have the legs to do much different? There comes a time when every fighter, no matter how slick, has to spend more time in the trenches. It could be we have arrived at the point where Mayweather is going to make better fights more often. Miguel Cotto gave him a hard time. Maidana was even harder. They were two of his most exciting contests. Both are physical pressure fighters.
The challenge in front of Mayweather will be more of that in round two.
Maidana has been relatively easily beaten once, versus Alexander. He’s been a pain in the ass for everyone else in his career, including Mayweather. That says maybe Alexander was an anomaly and this is just a hard man to deal with. For Mayweather, he will be again. His lack of awe for the superstar in front of him, and Mayweather’s aging legs, make this the right rivalry at the right time.
That doesn’t mean Maidana can change the outcome. 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. The pick is Mayweather by decision.
Report Card Picks 2014: 42-17 (Including Ortiz-Kayode Staff Pick)
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]