The production values are top-notch and the editing work pristine.
But to a large extent, if you’ve seen one All Access episode hyping a Floyd Maweather Jr. fight since he joined the Showtime team last year, you’ve seen them all.
Though the network continually pulls out every stop when it comes to behind-the-scenes glimpses of fighters that fans seem to crave and media types can’t wait to dissect, it was narrator Barry Pepper who inadvertently drove home the repetitive nail in Episode 3’s final moments.
“It may look familiar, an adored Latin fighter dispatched to take a legend’s crown,” he said, chronicling Marcos Maidana’s rise to a May 3 welterweight unification date in Las Vegas, which comes on the heels of Mayweather’s defeats of Robert Guerrero and Saul Alvarez in the last 12 months.
Pepper went on to insist that Maidana’s bid for Money’s pound-for-pound throne is different because he’s accustomed to winning as a huge underdog, but that narrative deviation seemed hollow because much of the content prior to Pepper’s line revolved around similar contrasts illustrated last May and September.
Guerrero, a Californian of Mexican descent, was cast as the hardworking, Bible-toting family man who’d strive to be Mayweather’s conqueror thanks to a simple lifestyle and simple, faith-heavy values.
He lost a wide decision—taking three rounds on each of three scorecards—and hasn’t fought since.
Meanwhile, Alvarez, a precocious 23-year-old who turned pro as a teen, was framed as “the Mexican James Dean” by Golden Boy Promotions executive Richard Schaefer and viewed as a legitimate threat because he was, in Schaefer’s words, the bigger, younger and stronger one.
He, too, lost a wide decision, one that prompted the judge who scored it close, C.J. Ross, to take a voluntary leave from the sport, thanks to the intense torrent of criticism sparked by her 114-114 card.
For his audience with Mayweather, Maidana has been portrayed as equal parts doting father—his young daughter was shown significantly in Episode 2—and edge-living tough guy, thanks to a series of youthful scrapes with police and his adult-age affinity for guns and tattoos.
He was certainly not without vocal fans during an appearance at Showtime’s April 26 card in Carson, California, and the episode included ample footage of supporters clamoring to get close as he was led to and from the announcers' booth for an interview with the network’s host for the event, Brian Kenny.
Still, even Kenny’s laudatory words seemed to mirror a general consensus—that Maidana has done his job simply by landing the fight, and that winning it isn’t even a scenario worth diving into so deeply.
“Congratulations on getting the fight with Floyd,” Kenny said, as the camera panned over dozens of fans chanting the fighter’s "El Chino" nickname. “You’ve earned it.”
Truth be told, it’s a rock-and-a-hard-place proposition for Showtime, which is obligated to create programming to generate interest in a fight many nonetheless see as a mismatch but is limited to a certain number of themes that present themselves as story-worthy while doing so.
An effort was clearly made with Mayweather, who—differing from the “no, he really does belong here” script-reading that permeated Maidana’s segments—was shown less as a fighter and more as overlord of a “Money Team” organization whose futures he’ll ensure beyond his expected retirement in 2015.
It was effective in spots and less so in others, with some of the hangers-on looking as if they'll be just fine when the gravy train runs out...and others no doubt hoping he'll fight forever.
“Whenever the king calls, the court assembles,” Pepper said aptly, “their fates linked to his fortunes.”
Episode 3 of All Access: Mayweather vs. Maidana, a four-part series from Showtime Sports, aired Wednesday, April 30. All quotes in this article, unless otherwise noted, were taken from Episode 3.