In a fairly quick turnaround for boxing, Marcos “El Chino” Maidana looks poised to face pound-for-pound penny-click champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr., in a rematch for a pair of welterweight titles on September 13. Last May, the mulish, marauding, merciless Maidana roughhoused Mayweather from bell to bell en route to dropping a majority decision over 12 lively rounds. Although Maidana earned a draw on one of the scorecards, Mayweather, still undefeated after 46 professional fights, was the clear winner, and a rematch probably has more to do with a lack of marquee opponents than with any overriding public interest. (This is where we have to absurdly pretend that Manny Pacquiao does not exist.) After all, the first fight reportedly underperformed as a pay-per-view event despite any number of antics calculated to draw attention to it.
Incredibly, with a little over eight weeks to go, Mayweather-Maidana II has not been formally announced yet. Nor has a location been named. Add to this the fact that Mayweather recently received a license to promote fights in New York and the rumor mill has kicked itself into high gear regarding what Mayweather is planning for September and beyond. A pay-per-view fight of this magnitude normally needs a significant lead time—a minimum of three months, say—to market and promote, but it looks like the Brain Trust here has failed to learn from the lack of buzz that surrounded the first bout. Still, the hype machine will grind out HTML tales of how close Maidana came to beating Mayweather two months ago in a struggle on par with Jacob wrestling the angel. In the end, that is a PR edge that most other welterweights lack, and it is the only one a fighter as dour as Maidana can ever hope to have over anyone else.
Nothing in boxing should be taken at face value, of course, since it is filled with hucksters at every level, from the men who carry spit buckets all the way to television network executives. Because controlling images is as important in contemporary prizefighting as competition is, anything Mayweather—or his cheerleading squad—says has the potential to be disinformation. For now, at least, it looks like Maidana will get his second chance to derail “The Money Train.” This is good news for a man who, with his primitive tattoos and sullen demeanor, looks like he would be comfortable eating railroad spikes. Maidana, whose record is 35-4 with 31 knockouts, is a tenacious brawler who looks to rearrange noses, chins, and cheekbones as often as Joan Rivers does. At times, Maidana turned the first fight into a dirty collar-and-elbow grind, but whenever Mayweather could create distance, “Money” would unleash his jab and run off some hurtful combinations. And when Mayweather attacked the body, Maidana appeared to sag a bit, but “El Chino” is the kind of man who would set up a lawn chair in Tierra Del Fuego, and he fought through the pain to rally late. Maidana also made sure to leave scars last May: he left Mayweather with a gash above his eye. As driven and as dangerous as a puma in the ring, Maidana wants to get back to the hunt as soon as possible.
Even so, with pay-per-view fatigue setting in on the public over the last few months, do we really need to fork out another $70 to see what amounts to a re-run of a decent show that had few surprises? In an era where sequels and reboots dominate pop culture, Mayweather-Maidana II is one event that will likely fail to match its predecessor in any way. In fact, the biggest surprise here would be if it somehow does better than the original. Boxing is full of twists and turns, but *that* would require a serious suspension of disbelief.
Carlos Acevedo is the editor of The Cruelest Sport and a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His work has appeared in Boxing Digest Magazine, Maxboxing, Boxing World Magazine, and Esquina Boxeo.