By Ivan G. Goldman
Okay, the weights are in from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. No surprises there – Floyd Mayweather 146 and 1/2 and Marcos Maidana 146. They both look poised and ready on the scales, and we know what to expect from the challenger Saturday night — unbridled fury for as long as his conditioning lasts.
He’s a pressure fighter who throws shots with bad intentions from all angles and often with quite decent speed. Although his defense is mostly his offense, he’s more polished with Robert Garcia in the corner, and not so easy to hit.
Ironically, it’s Mayweather who may be more of a question mark. He and his team believe they gained enough knowledge from their first encounter with the Argentine dynamo in May to beat him more soundly this time. But have they miscalculated? The oddsmakers and most of the public believe they haven’t. What’s expected is the same Mayweather seen in his past 46 outings – a master of the squared circle who hits and is rarely hit back, at least not flush. He slips, slides, rolls, and counters. And when his opponent stands still too long he gets slugged by a champion who’s already moved away.
“It’s all about taking my time,” he said after the weigh-in.
But there’s an outside chance this fight won’t follow the pattern they set in their first fight. They’e four months older – Mayweather 37 and Maidana 31. It probably will make little difference, all those aging cells. Yet at some point Floyd will pass that mysterious point along the age spectrum that lands him in a vulnerable zone. Is this the night?
The last time I can remember Mayweather really committing to one of his punches was eight fights ago — a check left hook to Ricky Hatton who was bull-rushing past him in the tenth round and got stopped in his tracks. He hit the canvas like an iron safe.
But mostly Floyd plays it safe. His offense is guided by brittle bones in his hands and a cautious spirit that tells him not to lose, so punch quick and recover and don’t twist too much of your body into the shot because then it will take split seconds longer to get back in the envelope.
Although he relies on speed and subtle movement, he has the ability to throw harder shots. He did against Arturo Gatti and Diego Corrales, who were both made for him. First he weakened them with snapping punches they never saw, and when they wilted from confusion and pain he decided he had nothing to fear and poured it on until they could no longer stand.
Then there was Miguel Cotto – a steady, controlled machine and just about impossible to discourage. Floyd’s footwork failed him and he retreated to the ropes, where he traded with the same skill he shows when he bangs the mitts with his Uncle Roger. But at the same time, Cotto delivered serious punishment to all the right addresses. It was shocking to see – Floyd getting hit.
That’s when we were reminded of something that many of us forget: Floyd can take it. He’s tough. When Shane Mosley staggered him in the second round, he stayed cool, survived the storm, and came back strong.
In other recent fights Mayweather cruised past Canelo Alvarez, Robert Guerrero, and Juan Manuel Marquez on points. Canelo and Guerrero just couldn’t tag him. Marquez did, but there was no thunder on his shots. He couldn’t hurt the champion.
Maidana doesn’t bother to deny he’s a dirty fighter but points out that Floyd’s dirty too. Mayweather may have the most skilled elbows and forearms out there. They enrage opponents, who often open themselves up to more serious damage. The most extreme case was Victor Ortiz, who, losing it completely, threw the world’s most obvious head butt and lost by two sucker punches as Joe Cortez signaled the timekeeper.
Maidana journeyed to Oxnard, California to train with Garcia after he was humiliated by Devon Alexander in February 2012. In his next three fights he kayoed Jesus Soto Karass, Angel Martinez, and Josesito Lopez. Then he upset Mayweather wannabe Adrien Broner, knocking him down twice. When he lost to Floyd in their first fight it was by majority decision. Under Garcia, Maidana is still improving.
But has he improved enough to score an upset? Will Mayweather be one day too old? That’s what they want us to pay to find out.
New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag was released in 2013 by Potomac Books. Watch for The Debtor Class: A Novel from Permanent Press in spring, 2015. More Information Here