Floyd Mayweather opens up the first installment of All Access: Mayweather vs. Maidana just like you’d expect.
“Is it about the money? Absolutely. Is it about the fame? Absolutely. It’s everything wrapped in one. I want to be the best. Not just the best fighter, I want to be the best athlete, period.”
Episode 1 of the four-part series, which will air over the next few weeks in the build-up to the Floyd Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana promotion on May 3, is a juxtaposition of two men from different worlds.
For brevity’s sake, Mayweather is the Apollo Creed to Maidana’s Rocky Balboa. Mayweather is flash and dash. Maidana is the hard-nosed brawler with a big heart.
But unlike the fictional characters from Sylvester Stallone’s movie franchise, these guys can really fight. Both of them.
“When I leave, I will be known as TBE, and that’s ‘The Best Ever’,” says Mayweather as the episode begins.
In case you missed it, Mayweather absolutely wants to be known as the greatest prizefighter in history. Being undefeated at age 37, he has made a pretty decent case for it already.
He’s faced and defeated a slew of Hall of Famers, and he’s done so without experiencing many close fights. He’s fought over the last few years very close to his walking-around weight.
Mayweather’s great. There’s no doubt about it.
But the questions Episode 1 poses on the viewer are these: Is he really the best ever? Is this hubris or history?
Without saying it, narrator Barry Pepper alludes to the elephant in the room. Can Mayweather really be considered the best ever without having faced the other preeminent fighter of his era in Manny Pacquiao?
There are numerous reasons why that fight has never happened, and there is not enough room for them here.
Lucky for us, though, Mayweather has found plenty of other good fighters to tangle with along the way. Maidana is next, and this episode paints him as a decent enough antagonist to Mayweather.
Or is it the other way around?
Mayweather has a way of changing his personality to suit whatever promotion he’s running. He can be anything from a fairly humble and decent guy to the most vile villain imaginable.
It appears he’s decided to fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum for Mayweather-Maidana.
All Access reveals Mayweather in full “The Money Team” mode. Mayweather the bad guy against Maidana the cowboy. That’s the motif we’re given. Can Maidana succeed where others have failed?
Mayweather does Mayweather things. He counts stacks of cash. He signs boxing gloves for fans. He gets massages at fancy boutiques. He shows off his mansions, his cars and his jewelry. He objectifies women.
He’s in his element in a way. He always wanted to be loved, and for Mayweather, this was the surest pathway there. Now he estimates he has it all: money, power, respect. He goes so far as to wear t-shirts and hats with those exact words proudly emblazoned on them.
Money. Power. Respect. He’s smiling, and he looks happy.
Next, we see Mayweather talking about his recent breakup with Shantel Jackson. He shows the now-bare closet of his former lover. He talks about wanting a strong, beautiful woman that he can share his life with, but he also says things to let future prospects know they’ll need to know their place. He’s the man, after all, and rich.
“Sometimes people can outgrow one another, but we’re still friends,” says Mayweather.
Mayweather has some new lady friends now. He acts genuinely adolescent with them and they lap it up. He’s no gentleman. They don’t care.
Mayweather says he picked Maidana for his next fight based on Maidana’s performance against Adrien Broner last December. Maidana absolutely pummeled the previously undefeated Broner over 12 rounds in a fight very few thought he could win.
In Mayweather’s eyes, the win earned Maidana the fight against him, though he later insinuates he doesn’t even know how to say Maidana’s name.
Meanwhile, Maidana is first shown to us riding a bus in Santa Fe, Argentina, more than 5,000 miles away from Mayweather’s glamorous Las Vegas.
He’s a man of the people. He’s surrounded by normal-looking folk. He’s celebrated at a local soccer game for his defeat of Mayweather's protégé Broner. People chant for him in his native tongue.
He’s a man at his peak, it seems, a well-deserved star now in his home country of Argentina.
The point is driven home, and it’s a good one. Maidana got to this spot the hard way. He earned it.
Now, he’s hitting a bag in dim light waiting for his daughter, Emilia, to be born. He’s training to face the best fighter of his generation, but he’s a family man who simply has to fight to make his way through the world.
Clips of the Broner win remind us of his greatest moment.
“He’s just another opponent to me,” screamed Broner into the pre-fight dressing room cameras. Broner was so confident he would easily defeat Maidana.
Broner was wrong though. Is Floyd, too?
Clips of Maidana pummeling Broner make him more look like a club fighter than a fighter at Mayweather’s level. But Maidana’s more than that.
Sure, he’s wild-swinging and aggressive. But he’s legit. You don’t beat Broner the way he did by being a nobody. You don’t get a fight against Mayweather without being world-class.
“That boy's a tough-ass opponent,” Mayweather says later at his gym in Las Vegas. But he says it with a smile, and he takes some digs at Broner by telling the audience he’d never let something like that happen to him.
In a way, he’s right. For all the glitz and glamour, Mayweather is the real deal where it counts the most: in the gym. He has folks clapping for him while his works. But he works, and as hard as any fighter in the game.
Perhaps they should be clapping. After all, he’s the best.
By the end of this first installment, we’ve learned nothing new about Mayweather but much about Maidana. He’s a good fighter who has risen from humble beginnings to earn this opportunity of a lifetime. Unlike Mayweather, who was laced up in gloves by his father as soon as he could walk, Maidana didn’t start boxing until he was 15.
Baby Emilia is born March 11 in a Santa Fe hospital. She’s new and precious. She’ll sweet, small and innocent. That wait is over for Maidana now. He's holding her. She’s here.
But the fight seems to loom larger than ever now that he’s holding her close to him. It’s more real now than ever. On May 3 at the MGM in Las Vegas, Maidana will get his crack at Mayweather.
Is he really the best ever? Is this hubris or history? Maidana doesn’t care. He just wants to fight.
All Access: Mayweather vs. Maidana, a four-part series from Showtime Sports, premieres this Saturday, April 19 at 9 p.m. ET, preceding the live Showtime Championship Boxing triple-header headlined by Bernard Hopkins vs. Beibut Shumenov.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes from this article were taken from Bleacher Report's advanced viewing of Episode 1.