Argentine brawler Marcos Maidana tries to be a fly in the gazpacho when he faces undefeated welterweight kingpin Floyd Mayweather, Jr., at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Saturday night.
Unfortunately for “El Chino,” however, his chances of scoring an upset before getting sprayed by a can of Black Flag are very, very low. Although Maidana has been an accomplished professional prizefighter for years, the oddsmakers installed him as a prohibitive underdog—as much as 16-1 against on some sports books—from the moment this fight was announced.
In addition, the buildup has been fairly lackluster despite Showtime airing countless infomercials on its multiplex channels to promote it. (Subscribing to Showtime only to see hours of promotional material designed to get you to pay for extracurricular programming is one of the unpleasant mysteries of the cutthroat cable industry.) Golden Boy Promotions decided against a coast-to-coast marketing junket for this fight—possibly because Maidana is so dour—and the result has been far less buzz than Mayweather generated for his last fight, a 12-round master class against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez that became the highest-grossing boxing pay-per-view in history. This time around, it will cost you anywhere from $70-$75 to see what amounts to a mismatch on pay-per-view, at least in HD. Mayweather, after all, calls himself “Money” for a reason.
Nothing indicates that Maidana, 30, belongs in the same ring as Mayweather, whose undefeated record will likely not be threatened before he retires. Still, in a rare cause-and-effect scenario for boxing, Maidana earned the biggest payday of his career by hammering hot-dogging Adrien Broner into an embarrassing defeat last year. But Broner, who has often been compared to Mayweather based on a superficial resemblance beyond the ropes—razzmatazz, bizarre social media moments, police blotters—is not nearly the fighter Mayweather is. Now in the 18th year of his career, Mayweather, 37, remains a ring whiz whose conditioning and speed are combined with a mastery of fundamentals and a ring IQ second to none.
Maidana, from Santa Fe, Argentina, has a concussive left hook and the kind of bloodlust that gets ringsiders to rise to their feet en masse, but he has already been outboxed by lesser talents than Mayweather: Devon Alexander, Andriy Kotelnik, and Amir Khan, for example. At times, Maidana can be so primitive that it looks like he belongs in a diorama at the Museum of Natural History instead of in a Sin City boxing ring. In order for Maidana, 35-3 with 31 knockouts, to have a chance tomorrow night, he will have to be at his brutish best from bell to bell. And even that will probably not be enough.
If Maidana is unable to crowd Mayweather effectively and work on the inside, then “Money” will pump his pesky jab, potshot from the perimeter, and occasionally step in to land a left hook to the ribs, since Maidana appears vulnerable to body shots. In the end, Mayweather, 45-0 with 26 knockouts, will likely box his way to an easy points win over twelve rounds.
Longshots in boxing all share the same far-reaching possibility—that chance may play a determining role on their behalf at some point. But does it have to be so damned expensive?
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.