If you’re a boxing fan—which, if you’re reading this, we can safely assume you probably are—you’ve probably had September 13 circled and starred on your calendar for a few months now.
Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather returns to the ring on that night in Las Vegas, taking on Argentina’s Marcos Maidana in a rematch for all the marbles. And by all the marbles we mean the WBC versions of the welterweight and junior middleweight crown, which would make Mayweather the first man to defend titles in two weight classes during the same fight.
And all the bean counters—the people in charge of ensuring that Mayweather and his network/promotional partners make the most money possible—are (forgive the pun) banking on that being enough for fans to shell out upwards of $75 bucks for the right to watch in high definition.
That’s because you’re not going to get a whole lot else on the "Mayhem" card.
|Mayhem: Mayweather vs. Maidana II Undercard|
|Leo Santa Cruz||vs.||Manuel Roman||12 Rounds||WBC 122-pound title|
|Miguel Vazquez||vs.||Mickey Bey||12 Rounds||IBF 135-pound title|
|Alfredo Angulo||vs.||James De La Rosa||10 Rounds||Middleweights|
|John Molina||vs.||Humberto Soto||10 Rounds||Jr. Welterweights|
|Golden Boy Promotions|
The undercard bouts can only be described as underwhelming, and nothing you see there will, or should, sway you one way or the other when it comes to dropping that sort of cash on a fight.
Leo Santa Cruz defends his WBC Super Bantamweight Championship in the co-feature, facing his former sparring partner, and pretty much universally unknown challenger, Manuel Roman.
Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Matthysse this is not.
The co-feature for “The One: Mayweather vs. Canelo” pay-per-view was a main event in its own right, featuring a young, rising champion against a challenger many felt he couldn’t beat.
This is easily the worst co-feature among Mayweather's recent PPV outings, and it’s not close.
Amir Khan vs. Luis Collazo preceded Mayweather’s first match with Maidana in May. Daniel Ponce de Leon vs. Abner Mares came before he fought Robert Guerrero, and Canelo Alvarez vs. Shane Mosley was the appetizer before his main event with Miguel Cotto.
Barring something completely and shockingly unexpected, Santa Cruz should have no trouble blowing through a woefully overmatched opponent.
Roman—whose last fight was a six-round decision victory over an opponent who had lost seven of his last 10 fights—is a former sparring partner of Santa Cruz and isn’t ranked in the top 15 by any of the four sanctioning organizations at 122 pounds.
In fact, Roman isn’t even ranked in the top 40 at super bantamweight by the WBC (he’s No. 13 a division below at bantamweight). The same organization refused to sanction Garcia’s defense against terribly overmatched Rod Salka but has no problem declaring Roman a worthy title challenger.
Now, none of this should be construed as being unfairly critical of Santa Cruz.
The 26-year-old Mexican is a dynamo, and his style gives him the potential to develop into a huge star in the fight game. But this fight isn’t worthy of that status, and it certainly isn’t worthy of co-featuring the biggest boxing event on the 2014 calendar.
Also on the undercard, Miguel Vazquez, a solid technical boxer who holds the IBF Lightweight Championship, will take on Mayweather Promotions’ fighter Mickey Bey in a contest that, to these eyes, nobody was clamoring to see.
Vazquez is a tricky boxer whose style is built to be appreciated by only true technical-boxing aficionados. The last time he appeared on PPV—on the undercard of Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV—the 27-year-old stunk out the joint, winning a wide decision over Mercito Gesta in a fight that had most looking for the remote.
Bey, a 31-year-old who is too old to be called a prospect and too inexperienced to be called a contender, is probably best known for a last-second loss to John Molina in 2013.
In a fight that he was winning handily—90-81, 89-82 and 88-83 on the scorecards after Round 9—Bey was stunningly knocked out in the closing minute of what many considered to be the 2013 Round of the Year.
Molina will also appear on the undercard but in a separate bout televised on Showtime as part of its countdown show for the live PPV.
Bey has since taken a pair of wins over nondescript opposition but nothing that shows he’s recovered from such a devastating loss. That’s the type of fight that changes a guy’s career—and not for the better. Some never recover from those type of circumstances.
All that adds up to a fight that has tricky, awkward and unexciting mess written all over it.
I'm not saying it shouldn’t happen, although Bey is only ranked No. 13 by the IBF, but showcasing it on PPV—and particularly this one—might not be the best idea.
Rounding out the PPV undercard is probably the most exciting, at least on paper, of all the bouts, simply because one party to the contest is Alfredo Angulo.
El Perro is usually a good bet—his performance against Canelo Alvarez notwithstanding—to provide some fireworks and excitement.
But his opponent, James De la Rosa, falls somewhere below household-name status. He’s never been knocked out as a professional, which doesn’t mean a whole lot given his level of opposition. He will likely be looked upon to give Angulo a few spirited rounds before succumbing to the inevitable.
That’s it, folks.
There's not a whole lot in the way of help being thrown Mayweather or Maidana’s way when it comes to the job of selling this puppy to the general public.
And that’s not as easy a job as it sounds.
Mayweather’s decision win the first time around had its share of dramatic moments.
Maidana’s physicality, including a fair bit of borderline and illegal tactics, gave the champ trouble early, but by the second half it looked much like a normal Mayweather fight.
Conventional wisdom in boxing states that the winner of the first fight generally wins the rematch in more impressive fashion, and that seems amplified this time around, making it a less-than-compelling selling point.
Ditto for the undercard, and that could be a significant problem for the people charged with making sure "Mayhem" is a commercial success.