Mayweather/Maidana II: A Pre-Fight Analysis
Their First Encounter was Surprisingly Competitive
This Saturday, the best boxer on the planet Floyd "Money" Mayweather (46-0 26 KO's) will once again face Marcos "El Chino" Maidana (35-4 31 KO's) in a highly anticipated rematch of their ultra competitive initial encounter four months ago. In a rare move, Mayweather will be putting titles from two seperate divisions on the line (WBC Welterweight/Light Middleweight and WBA Super Welterweight). The first fight between these two resulted in a majority decision victory for Floyd. This author scored the bout a surprisingly competitive 7 rounds to 5 for Mayweather, but would not argue with someone who scored it 8 rounds to 4. A draw is pushing it, and a Maidana victory is very hard to endorse.
Maidana got off to a fantastic start and in my opinion won three of the first 6 rounds. He did so largely due to executing voluminous punches and applying suffocating pressure while displaying irreverance for the long reigning champion and pound for pound king. Two things occured simultaneously subsequent to the 6th round: Maidana began to fatigue and Mayweather began to adjust. It's tough enough to face a master boxer with a genius ring IQ and impeccable conditioning such as Floyd Mayweather, but to do so while your gas tank is depleting is a daunting task to say the least. Maidana's camp claimed to have only had 5 weeks to prepare for the first fight and had a full 8 weeks to prepare for the rematch. No excuses can be made if Maidana gasses again. One bright light that the Maidana camp took away from the first fight is that despite Maidana fatiguing during the second half of the match, he still had enough left to force Floyd to dig deep in the championship rounds to secure the victory.
Both Boxers Learned Much from the First Fight
After going 12 hard rounds, each fighter learned valuable things from their first encounter. Maidana learned that pressuring Floyd and bullying him against the ropes and in the corner while throwing a profusion of punches proved very effective. He also learned that Floyd was able to easily evade being caught flush by Marcos' sledgehammer of a right hand which was being delivered in a wildly comical, ineffective fashion. The trajectory of that punch was analogous to the way one would swing an ax into a log. Maidana's trainer Robert Garcia surely had to have worked with Maidana on adjusting the trajectory of his right hand so that it would hit the target more often and not sail over Mayweather's head as it did on numerous occasions. They also learned that Floyd is human and can be cut and made to dig deep in order to pull out the victory.
Mayweather learned from the first fight that Maidana was a sitting duck when the fight was being fought in the center of the ring where Floyd's masterful boxing skills, defense, speed and reflexes were on display. Surely Floyd will attempt to keep the fight there and away from the ropes and corners. This will require more lateral movement, clinching and a higher number of jabs. Mayweather also learned that even at 37, he can go toe to toe with a brawler like he did in the first half of the fight and at the very least fight him on even terms. The difference between Leonard/Duran I and Mayweather/Maidana I is that Mayweather fought the second half of the fight differently and more along the lines of his usual boxing approach and style. Leonard fought Duran's fight for 15 rounds and ended up on the losing end of a very close decision. For the rematch, Leonard fought his fight up until Duran famously uttered "no mas". Floyd is too smart not to replicate what Leonard did.
It will be very intriguing to see how this fight plays out and if the flow of the fight resembles the first half of the first fight or if Mayweather picks up where he left off in round 12. In other words, will it be round 13 or round 1. There has been much talk lately about secret negotiations going on between the Mayweather and Pacquiao camps for a two fight series in May and September of 2015. If there is an iota of truth to that, will it affect Floyd in any way? Will the recent lawsuit that was filed by Mayweather's ex-fiancee accusing him of abuse or 50 Cent's verbal jabs attacking Floyd's literacy prove to be a distraction? Considering how special Mayweather is in regards to focus and dedication to one's craft and being squarely in the present moment, my money is on none of those things having any impact on "money".
Maidana will come out and look to once again cut the ring off and apply suffocating pressure but will be careful not to throw too many punches and thus risk gassing in the second half of the fight should it once again go the distance. Floyd will utilize much more lateral movement than he did in the first half of their initial fight. Mayweather will do his darnest to keep the fight in the center of the ring where he dominates. There will be moments where Maidana will bully him against the ropes and/or in the corner ala the first fight, but this time Floyd will clinch and smother him and referee Kenny Bayless will break them apart more than Tony Weeks did. If Maidana or Floyd employ dirty tactics, look for Bayless to do what Weeks didn't do and quickly take control of the fight and warn about point deductions and disqualifications.
Floyd will throw more jabs than he did in their first encounter and will go to the body and possibly score a knockdown from a body shot. Maidana will have his moments and if he is able to land his signature right hand on the top of Floyd's head could conceivably score a flash knockdown himself. Upon thorough analysis, I have come to the conclusion that this fight will resemble Mayweather/De La Hoya more than it will resemble Mayweather/Maidana I or Jose Luis Castillo 1 or 2. Castillo is the only other opponent to have been competitive enough to warrant a rematch. Their second fight was also competitive, but the result was much less controversial than the first encounter. I don't believe that Maidana has boxing skills on par with Castillo and will be able to cut the ring off to the same degree that Castillo did in the rematch.
Look for Mayweather to win a fairly competitive fight most likely via unanimous decision (by a three or four point margin or so), but possibly by a late stoppage if he is able to hurt Maidana to the body early and wear him down. I have a gut feeling that during the post fight press conference Maidana's trainer Robert Garcia will complain vociferously about how referee Kenny Bayless "didn't let us fight our fight" when in reality Bayless will have simply enforced rules that Tony Weeks chose to ignore.