Mayweather vs. Maidana: Top Early Storylines Surrounding Blockbuster Fight
In boxing, as in the movies, sequels can be hit or miss. Sure, there's a chance you'll get The Godfather II but you also might get Caddy Shack II.
The first bout between Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana was closer and far more entertaining than it was expected to be. So without a long list of other worthy contenders, it made sense for Mayweather to green light a return bout with the fierce and determined challenger from Argentina.
But that doesn't necessarily mean the rematch will be as close or compelling as the first fight. After all the hype and buildup that will come to pass over the next few weeks, there are questions that will need to be answered by both men once the bell rings to start the actual fight.
Will There Be Another Glovegate?
Last May, after the official weigh-in for their first fight, a minor controversy erupted when Floyd Mayweather objected to the gloves selected by Marcos Maidana. Mayweather complained that the Everlast MX model preferred by Maidana was insufficiently padded in the knuckles.
Maidana's team countered that the gloves were approved by the Nevada Athletic Commission. While nobody seriously believed the fight was truly in jeopardy, there was significant posturing around the issue.
In the end, Maidana relented and switched to Everlast Powerlock gloves instead. It was widely viewed as a bit of gamesmanship on Mayweather's part, intended to get in Maidana's head on the eve of the biggest fight of his life.
For this fight, Maidana has been training with the Powerlock model all along. According to Blacksportsonline's Robert Littal, Leonard Ellerbe reported on a media call that Maidana would, in fact, be using that model again on September 13.
Maidana's trainer, Robert Garcia, has actually been making some attempts to turn the tables on Mayweather and use the glove issue as a way of getting at Mayweather. At a press conference earlier this year, he had oversized novelty gloves brought on stage and declared that they were the gloves Mayweather preferred.
In the end, neither side is walking away from this kind of payday over the glove issue. But sparring over it could be a bit of gamesmanship that comes into play in the last 24 hours before the fight.
Will Mayweather Take Control Earlier This Time?
Floyd Mayweather has always been a master of reading and adjusting to an opponent. Often, within a round or two, Mayweather will have his man figured out. From there it is relatively easy for him to avoid nearly everything his opponent throws while picking the other man off with brutally accurate lead rights or counters.
It's why his fights with Robert Guerrero and Saul Alvarez developed into anticlimactic, one-sided decisions.
But he didn't have such an easy time with the wild, erratic style Marcos Maidana used against him last May. The new "Bull of the Pampas" presented no easy-to-decode patterns to his movement. After the first six rounds, the fight was very close, with Maidana seeming slightly ahead, if anything.
Mayweather did make his ultimate adjustments and boxed very well in the center of the ring during the second half of the fight, to pull off the majority decision. It will be interesting to see if his mid-fight adjustments carry over to the beginning of this one.
If Mayweather looks comfortable and in control during the early rounds on September 13, it will be a good indication that the rematch could lack suspense.
Can Maidana Punch More Accurately This Time?
Marcos Maidana did a lot of things well in his last fight with Floyd Mayweather, but punching accurately wasn't one of them. Mayweather is a historically difficult boxer to hit and although Maidana succeeded in making things uncomfortable for the pound-for-pound king, he didn't land a whole lot more punches than anybody else has.
In truth, I thought the fight seemed less close when I watched it a second time. Without getting swept up in the excitement of an unfolding brawl, it was easier to see that Maidana was getting some credit he probably didn't deserve for his work in the exchanges.
That was a natural outcome of a fast-paced, physical fight. Judges aren't working with the benefit of punch stats or slow motion, so it's often understandable when they give a very busy fighter close rounds, even if he isn't really landing a whole lot.
But it will be tougher for Maidana to get that kind of generous scoring the second time. Judges will know that he got a bit more credit than he deserved last time, and they will be likely to have a sharper eye on his actual connect rate.
To make this fight as close as the last one, Maidana is probably going to need to land with improved accuracy.
Will the Referee Cut Maidana as Much Slack?
Marcos Maidana is a rough, pressure fighter, and everybody knew before his last fight with Floyd Mayweather that the Argentine Bull would attempt to make the fight an ugly, bruising affair for the undefeated superstar. He largely succeeded in this, even if the final result wasn't exactly what he had hoped for.
Referee Tony Weeks issued just one warning to Maidana and didn't take a single point as Maidana used a steady string of low blows, shoves, elbows, headbutts and shoulder bumps. The wild Argentine even tried to deliver a knee in the clinch.
Opponents have complained consistently over the years about Mayweather's own use of forearms and elbows to create distance. Maidana has maintained that his own rough tactics were a necessary response.
But it's unlikely that Kenny Bayless will let Maidana get away with as much in the rematch. Expect Maidana to once again attempt to get away with every single dirty tactic he can. But also expect a stricter enforcement of the Marquess of Queensberry Rules.
Will Fans Buy the Fight?
Since at this point I no longer have much confidence Floyd Mayweather will ever fight Manny Pacquiao, a rematch with Marcos Maidana made sense. Maidana made the last fight closer than any Mayweather has had in years and will bring the same tenacity and aggression to the return bout.
Mayweather's many haters, and even some more objective fans, will claim that Maidana deserved the nod last time. The Argentine brawler's profile was elevated significantly by his close call in May. This fight should at least garner better pay-per-view sales than the last one.
But whether the sales will live up to "The Money Team" hype is another matter. The truth is most fans don't think Maidana actually did enough to win last time, and Mayweather is the sort of fighter who traditionally gets better with more time to study an opponent up close.
But, again, Maidana was the best available choice. The other leading candidate, Amir Khan, would have done well with English fans. A fight between Mayweather and Khan would sell out Wembley Stadium.
But North American fans would be unlikely to buy Amir Khan, who has been knocked out twice, as an opponent for the pound-for-pound best. And while Khan was waiting in line, fellow Brit Kell Brook has entered the picture. Brook is a newly crowned, undefeated champion who just upset a popular, young American champion in Shawn Porter.
So don't be surprised if Brook supplants Khan in the Money sweepstakes. Meanwhile, Maidana gets a second chance in September.
Showtime's All Access doesn't even debut until August 30, so the promotional blitz has yet to enter its final push. It's too early to really gauge how big the sales will be for this event.
But it's safe to predict that win or lose, Mayweather will once more be cashing a monster check.