Four months ago, Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather encountered what most viewed as the toughest night of his 18 year career at the hands of Argentinean slugger Marcos ‘Chino’ Maidana. From the moment the final bell rang, fans all around the world have been split on what we witnessed. Mayweather critics felt he would avoid a risky rematch at all cost; supporters felt there was no need for one. Yet here we stand at the doorstep of a sequel, and tonight, once and for all, questions raised will be questions answered. As we prepare for this epic showdown, we take a look at keys to victory, four critical game changers to explore, and an official prediction:
FLOYD MAYWEATHER – KEYS TO VICTORY
Tonight, Mayweather will need to start fast and dictate the tone early. Part of that process will need to be dedication to aggressive body work. In their first fight, once he went to the body, we saw an immediate change in the overall aggression of Maidana as Mayweather slowed him down rather quickly. Aside from body work, Mayweather needs to keep all exchanges in the middle of the ring. Maidana missed 637 punches in the first fight, and of the 221 he landed, more than 70% came against the ropes. If Mayweather can stay off the ropes, be first, and commit to the body, a little footwork would cement his chances of victory, barring an unexpected powershot that he fails to overcome.
MARCOS MAIDANA – KEYS TO VICTORY
For Maidana, keys to victory start and end with conditioning. In the first fight he threw 858 punches, but there were several gaps of inactivity in between. His pressure was an obstacle that Mayweather didn’t appear to have an answer for, and in many ways, him failing to sustain that pace can be credited with preventing him from achieving victory, or a draw at the very least. He won’t outbox Mayweather, so his best chance is to condition himself enough to keep up that work rate and be selective with his shots. Controlled aggression, sustained work rate, and a good shot selection gives Maidana a better shot at victory than many are willing to admit….even if it is by way of decision.
FOUR TO EXPLORE (POTENTIAL GAME-CHANGERS)
‘STAB WITH JABS’: The overall consensus around the sport is that outside of a powershot, the best way to beat Mayweather is with a jab. In the first bout, Maidana threw 318, but only landed 11% (36). Each one he landed left opportunity to land something bigger behind it. Why is this key? Mosley, Cotto, and Judah each found a way to land thunderous shots on the heels of a jab that landed first. Basically, the good ole trap-jab (decoy). Maidana has the power to hurt Mayweather if he can land the big shot, but he can’t keep trying to land that shot alone. He’ll need to set it up with a jab. But will he?
‘OLD ROY’, ‘NEW ROY’, OH BOY!: One of the biggest subplots looming is the parallel between this rematch and the Jones vs Tarver rematch. Similar to Mayweather, Jones had everything going for him, yet one calculated risk failed to add up, resulting in one of the biggest shockers in the history of the sport. Mayweather has a defensive skill level that Jones never possessed, but a quote from his Father tells us that may not be necessary for defeat: “All it takes is a split second lost from your reflexes for you to get hit with a shot you never saw coming and you’ll be on your a** looking up at the ceiling before you know it”. Mayweather still has defense. Does he still have the same reflexes?
‘SECOND CHANCE, FIRST RESULT’?: In 18 years, Floyd Mayweather has only granted one rematch. There’s a quiet consensus that the rematch is more beneficial for Maidana than Mayweather, but as one fight fan stated, “a rematch for Mayweather is like giving a sniper a second shot”! In the first fight, we saw him take over the last 6 to 7 rounds with little consistent resistance, solidifying the fact that he needs very little time to dissect an opponent from brain to toe. Maidana will enter with a few new adjustments, but now that Mayweather has a visual target in his ‘scope’, for Maidana, is there truly any hope?
‘IN THE ZONE’? : Both critics and supporters of Mayweather agree on his work ethic. With so many recent distractions, many have openly questioned whether or not they’ll play a role when the bell sounds. In Mayweather, we have an athlete with financial comfort like few others, yet still trains like no other. With the “finish line” in sight, is it fathomable to think someone so dedicated could fall asleep at the wheel with two fights left? Conventional logic says “anything is possible”. Among that list of “anything” stands a chance that he could actually elevate himself to another level and work that much harder to defeat that possibility. That said…..could this be another Gatti-esque beatdown?
OFFICIAL PREDICTION (UPSET BAROMETER – RATING 1 -5)
Early on, fight fans can expect a tense chess match with Maidana asserting his aggressiveness, while Mayweather asserts his intelligence. Lots of soft jabs, lots of hay-makers, and if someone slips, possibly one or two breath-takers (ala Mosley/Mayweather). But when the nerves subside, look for Mayweather to steal Maidana’s thunder by standing his ground and keeping the fight inside. Maidana will not bully his way thru Mayweather, and Mayweather will not run. Mayweather will stand in the pocket, stay firm, and stay close, then go to the body at the prescription of a heavy dose.
I see Maidana landing in spurts, but Kenny Bayless will have a firm grip on the action, which means a few early warnings, coupled with a bevy of lead rights could make for a very frustrated Marcos Maidana, as early as the 4th round. But that’s where the plot thickens. A determined Maidana will keep the pressure on until the very end. Despite what should be a clear Mayweather victory, I see a sustained work rate and questions from the pass fight (scoring) giving Maidana more leverage with judges than necessary:
MAYWEATHER via CLOSE SPLIT DECISION (in a fight that appears to be more like 10-2)
UPSET BAROMETER: PEAKS AT 5 of 5 – Maidana is a very live underdog, and he will come to seize the moment.
(Vivek “Vito” Wallace can be heard every Tuesday night on “Left-Hook Lounge Radio”. He can also be reached at 954.770.9807, Twitter (@vivekwallace747), Instagram (ViveksView), and Facebook).