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Mayweather’s Superior Physicality Saves Him Versus Maidana

Frank Lotierzo

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Floyd Mayweather 46-0 (26) turned pro in October of 1996, almost 18 years ago.

And this past weekend former WBA welterweight title holder Marcos Maidana 35-4 (31) shocked the boxing world and gave him what was no doubt the second toughest fight, and perhaps maybe even the toughest fight, of his stellar career. 

Mayweather’s 12-round majority decision over Maidana is only the second time in 46 fights that Floyd has left the ring with some observers questioning whether or not he really won. The last time that happened was back in April of 2002, when Mayweather won a highly dubious unanimous decision over Jose Luis Castillo in their first bout for the WBC lightweight title. (For the record I had Castillo beating Mayweather 115-111).

This past weekend I had Mayweather beating Maidana 115-113.

For years we’ve heard how the way to beat Mayweather is to rough him up and make the boxing match a street fight. But most of his opponents who tried to do that were discouraged and defeated mentally, then physically, by the end of the fourth round.

Not Maidana.

Marcos stayed true to his word and really didn’t give a damn about Mayweather or his reputation. For the first eight rounds Maidana threw the kitchen sink at Mayweather and Floyd was clearly rattled and confused by his wild punches and un-conventional aggression. So much so that Mayweather was making faces and gestures at the referee as to say ‘can you calm this guy down?’

Mayweather began to seize the fight in the ninth round and fully imposed his will on Maidana, sweeping three, perhaps all four of the last rounds to pull out the fight. Once Maidana began to slow a little, starting around the seventh round, Mayweather was better able to keep him at center ring and blunt his aggression with left hooks to the body and right hands to the head. With Maidana slowed a bit, Mayweather’s hand speed dictated his offense and his superior defense prevented Maidana from landing that one fight-altering punch he needed to in order to take back control of the fight.

After the fight Mayweather said, “It was a tough, competitive fight. I normally like to go out there and box and move. But he put pressure on me. I wanted to give the fans what they wanted to see so I stood and fought him.”

Don’t you believe it.

For years I’ve highlighted how at the end of the day physicality trumps strategy and no fighter does what he doesn’t want to, unless he has to, including Floyd Mayweather.

And for the first eight rounds of the bout Mayweather was forced to fight it out with Maidana because he had no choice – Maidana made the decision for him. However, because Maidana threw so many punches at Mayweather in order to disrupt him and make Floyd fight him off, it ultimately took its toll on Marcos physically and he couldn’t sustain his aggression.

Once Maidana’s unrelenting aggression ceased and started coming in spurts, Mayweather’s life got a lot easier.

Before the fight, I said that in order for Maidana to pull off the upset, he needed to possess a big-enough punch to make Mayweather uncomfortable and do things he didn’t want to do…..and he’d also have to have the means to deliver it. And for eight rounds he did. The problem was that starting in round nine Mayweather still had a few gears left to continue going, whereas Maidana basically topped out and didn’t have overdrive.

Mayweather’s best round of the fight was the ninth. He hit a slowed-down Maidana with some tremendous hooks to the body, which in turn kept Maidana from pressing and bulling him against the ropes and working him over. With Maidana slowed and now thinking and plotting instead of attacking, he became a sitting duck for Mayweather’s best offensive weaponry. Had Maidana owned just a little more punch and physical strength, he very well might have won the fight. But the reality turned out to be that Maidana only had enough punch and strength to bother Mayweather for a while. And imposing it on Floyd took a lot out of him and that’s why Mayweather pulled away during the last third of the bout. As gifted as Mayweather is, he really couldn’t box and pick his spots until Maidana got tired and slowed by the fast pace of the fight.

Maidana and trainer Robert Garcia had a terrific fight plan. They both did a great job preparing for the fight. As skilled as Mayweather is, he couldn’t really get the upper hand in the fight until Maidana wound down some. The problem for Maidana was fighting at 100 mph took a lot more out of him than it did Mayweather due to Floyd’s underrated upper-body strength.

It wasn’t until the ninth round that Mayweather’s pronounced skill advantage became the dominating force in the fight. Once Mayweather had Maidana to the point to where he could control him, it was downhill from there.

What really stood out about the fight was it usually only takes Mayweather two or three rounds to dictate the terms of the bout against most opponents, not eight.

There’s talk of a rematch and I hope it happens because Maidana deserves the pay day. As for the outcome, I think Mayweather will win and endure less physical abuse and punishment the next time if they fight. And the reason for that is, I don’t think Maidana can be any better than he was this past Saturday night. It’s not like he can do anything different stylistically. Basically, he’ll have to go after Mayweather again like a wounded animal and we saw that can only take him so far and won’t quite get it done. Sure, Marcos may have more confidence and Floyd will be a few months older but, we now know that Maidana cannot sustain the needed pressure to overwhelm Mayweather.

In addition to that we also know that Marcos doesn’t posses enough of a punch to really get Mayweather off his game to the point where he can seize the fight. Floyd was never really shook or in trouble once in 12-rounds.

“If I had my gloves I would have knocked him out,” Maidana said. That may be the case, but it’s doubtful that the so-called “punchers gloves” that Maidana wants to wear would make that much of a difference. At least I don’t believe so.

Mayweather has shown in past bouts against Jose Luis Castillo, Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto that he takes a really good punch. If Maidana can’t hurt him enough to where he can push him off the cliff, he can’t beat him.

Based on the 12-rounds they just fought, it doesn’t look like that would be the case in a rematch. History had shown that when the “boxer” beats the “fighter/attacker” in the first meeting, the rematch is usually a rerun of the first encounter. 

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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Berchelt TKOs Valenzuela in Mexico City

David A. Avila

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Mexico’s Miguel Berchelt hammered his way to a decisive knockout victory over fellow Mexican Eleazar Valenzuela in a non-title light fight on Saturday.

After nearly nine months off, WBC super featherweight titlist Berchelt (38-1, 34 KOs) unraveled a withering body attack including numerous low blows but Valenzuela remained upright in front of a sparse TV studio audience until he could take it no longer.

Berchelt used a seven-punch combination to knock the senses out of the very tough Valenzuela who hails from Sinaloa. The referee saw enough and stopped the fight with Valenzuela leaning against the ropes with a dazed look.

The champion from Cancun used a triple left hook in the first round to floor Valenzuela and it looked like the fight would not last more than two rounds. But Valenzuela, a sturdy veteran, bored into Berchelt to keep him off balance and was able to stop the momentum.

It did not last.

A vicious attack to the body sapped the energy from Valenzuela who has fought many elite fighters in the past, but none like Berchelt. He was able to batter the veteran round after round.

Valenzuela sought to reverse the momentum with some combinations of his own. Berchelt opened up with some combinations from the outside and cracked his foe with some skull-numbing blows that clearly affected Valenzuela’s senses. The referee wisely stopped the fight at 1:03 of the sixth round to give the win to Berchelt by knockout.

The victory opens the door to a potential clash with featherweight world titlist Oscar Valdez of Nogales, Mexico who has a fight of his own planned next month. Both champions are promoted by Top Rank.

Other Bouts       

Omar Aguilar (18-0, 17 KOs) bushwacked veteran Dante Jardon (32-7, 23 KOs) within a minute of the first round to win by technical knockout. A barrage of blows by Ensenada’s Aguilar opened up the fight and a four-punch combination forced the referee to stop the super lightweight fight with Mexico City’s Jardon against the ropes.

A battle between super bantamweights saw the taller Alan Picasso (14-1) out-hustle Florentino Perez (14-6-2) in an eight round clash between Mexican fighters. Mexico City’s Picasso fought effectively inside against the shorter Perez of Monterrey and was able to maintain a consistent pace. Neither fighter approved the use of a jab but Picasso was more effective inside with body shots and uppercuts and dominated the last half of the fight.  The six judges scored in favor of Picasso.

The WBC instituted the extra judges as a means of tabulating score cards efficiently. Three judges scored from the television studios and another three judges scored from the USA. It was the second time WBC judges officiated remotely and all six scorecards were official.

Photo credit: Zanfer Promotions

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Boxing Odds and Ends: Big Baby Miller, Roberto Duran and More

Arne K. Lang

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Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller just can’t keep his hands out of the cookie jar. It was announced today (Saturday, June 27) that the jumbo-sized heavyweight from Brooklyn tested positive for a banned substance, forcing him out of a July 9 fight at the MGM Grand “Bubble” against Jerry Forrest. The story was broken by Mike Coppinger of The Athletic who breaks more hard news stories than any other boxing writer.

Miller, needless to say is a repeat offender. He failed three different PED tests in a span of three days for three different banned substances leading into his planned June 2019 match at Madison Square Garden with WBA/IBF/WBO world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. That cost him the fight and a reported $5 million-plus payday. Andy Ruiz filled the void and scored an historic upset.

When the first test came back positive, Miller wailed that he was the victim of a faulty test. “My team and I stand for integrity, decency and honesty and will fight this with everything we have,” he said in a prepared statement. He later changed his tune. “I messed up,” he said.

In a story that appeared on these pages, Thomas Hauser noted that Big Baby had a history of PED use dating to 2014. In that year, he was slapped with a nine-month suspension by the California Athletic Commission following a kickboxing event in Los Angeles.

Counting this latest revelation, it’s five strikes for Big Baby. He’s taking quite a roasting right now on social media. Some of the harshest criticism is coming from his fellow boxers.

Assuming that Top Rank can’t find a replacement for Miller, this is another tough break for Jerry Forrest, a 32-year-old southpaw from Virginia with a 26-3 (20) record. Forrest was scheduled to fight hot prospect Filip Hrgovic on April 17 on a card at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, a show swept away by the coronavirus outbreak. Forrest has been matched very soft throughout his career, but he acquitted himself well in his lone previous TV appearance, losing a split decision to undefeated Jermaine Franklin on “Showtime: The New Generation.” The decision was controversial.

There’s talk now that Carlos Takam is angling to replace Big Baby. The French-Cameroonian, a former world title challenger who turns 40 in December, was billed out of Henderson, Nevada, in his last ring appearance that saw him winning a unanimous decision over fellow greybeard Fabio Maldonado in Huntington, NY.

—-

When it comes to Murphy’s Law (“anything that can go wrong, will”), there’s no sport quite like boxing. Just ask Bob Arum. The most mouth-watering matchup in his ESPN “summer series” fell out this week when Eleider Alvarez suffered a shoulder injury in training, forcing a postponement of his July 16 date with Joe Smith Jr. The match between Alvarez (25-1, 13 KOs) and Smith (25-3, 20 KOs) would have been a 12-rounder with the winner guaranteed a shot at the vacant WBO light heavyweight title, a diadem that Alvarez previously owned.

Joe Smith Jr, a Long Island construction worker once dismissed as nothing more than a club fighter, won legions of new fans in his last start, a one-sided (to everyone except one myopic judge) win over Jesse Hart in Atlantic City.

Cancelled matches have become a recurrent theme in ESPN’s semi-weekly boxing series. The very first card in the series lost what shaped up as its most competitive fight when Mikaela Mayer tested positive for COVID-19, scuttling her bout with Helen Joseph. In subsequent weeks, the manager of Mikkel Les Pierre tested positive for COVID-19 as did WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring. Those bad test results forced the postponement of two main events. Then earlier this week, hot lightweight prospect Joseph Adorno was lopped off Tuesday’s card after feeling sick after coming in overweight at the previous day’s weigh-in.

The undercards of the Tuesday/Thursday ESPN fights have left something to be desired, but that’s understandable. As Bob Arum noted in a conversation with veteran boxing scribe Keith Idec, Top Rank’s matchmakers Bruce Trampler and Brad “Abdul” Goodman have had a hard time fleshing out the cards because with so many gyms closed there’s a shortage of boxers who are in shape to fight on short notice. Then there are the COVID-19 travel restrictions and (something Arum did not acknowledge) budgetary restrictions more severe than an ordinary Top Rank card. Most of the undercard fighters have come from neighboring states such as Utah, saving Top Rank the cost of air fare. Fighters from faraway places, with some exceptions, were already training in Las Vegas.

Kudos to the entire Top Rank staff for keeping boxing alive during these challenging times.

It’s old news now, but Panamanian boxing legend Roberto Duran, 69, tested positive for the coronavirus and was hospitalized in Panama City with a viral infection. There’s been no update on his condition but his son Robin Duran wrote on Instagram that his father is not having any symptoms beyond those associated with a common cold. We will update you when new details become available.

Duran’s hospitalization came just a few days after the 40th anniversary of his first fight with Sugar Ray Leonard in what would say was Duran’s finest hour. They met on June 20, 1980 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

Duran won a unanimous decision. Converting the “10-point must” system into rounds, Duran prevailed by scores of 3-2-10, 6-5-4, and 6-4-5. As Yogi would have said, you could look it up.

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Fast Results from the Bubble: Jason Moloney TKOs Baez

Arne K. Lang

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Top Rank was back inside the MGM Grand “Bubble” tonight for chapter six of their semi-weekly ESPN summer series. Jason Moloney, one-half of Australia’s Moloney twins, accomplished what his brother Andrew Moloney was unable to accomplish in this ring on Tuesday night, adding a “W” to his ledger and looking good doing it. It came at the expense of Mexicali’s Leonardo Baez.

It was Jason Moloney’s second start on U.S. soil after coming up just a tad short in a bid for the vacant IBF world bantamweight title at Orlando in October of 2018. Against Baez, he fought a smart tactical fight, blunting the Mexican’s superior reach by fighting him at close quarters. Baez fought from the third round on with a cut over his right eye and then suffered a cut over his left eye in the seventh round. By then the fight was becoming increasingly one-sided and Baez’s corner did not let him come out for round eight.

Jason Moloney improved to 21-1 with his 18th knockout. Leonardo Baez, who took the fight on short notice after Maloney’s original opponent Oscar Negrete was forced to withdraw with a detached retina, slumped to 18-3.

Co-Feature

In the 10-round co-feature, Abraham Nova advanced to 19-0 with a unanimous decision over Philadelphia’s Avery Sparrow but won no new fans with a lackadaisical performance. Nova, born in Puerto Rico to parents from the Dominican Republic and raised in Albany, NY, showed little but his jab through the first seven rounds until hurting Sparrow with a big right hand in the eighth. The judges had it 96-94, 97-93, and 99-91.

Sparrow (10-2), whose lone previous loss was by disqualification, was making his first start in 15 months. He was slated to fight Ryan Garcia in Los Angeles last Sept. 14 but never made it to the weigh-in after being arrested by U.S. marshals on a charge of threatening a woman with a gun after she threw his clothes out the window…

Other Bouts

In an 8-round featherweight contest, Puerto Rican southpaw Orlando Gonzalez advanced to 15-0 with a unanimous decision over Ecuador’s Luis Porozo (15-3). The scores were 76-74 and 77-73 twice.

Gonzalez wasn’t particularly impressive although he did score two knockdowns. He decked Porozo near the end of round two with a left hook following a straight left and decked him again near the end of round seven with a left uppercut to the body.

In a rather ho-hum fight, welterweight Vlad Panin improved to 8-1 with 6-round majority decision over San Antonio’s 36-year-old Benjamin Whitaker (13-4). Panin, a Belarusian who grew up in Las Vegas and earned a BA in English from UCLA, has a good back story but seemingly a limited upside in the fight game.

In an entertaining 6-round welterweight clash, Filipino campaigner Reymond Yanon improved to 11-5-1 with a split decision (59-55, 58-56, 56-58) over Clay Burns. A 33-year-old ex-Marine from Fort Worth, Burns declined to 9-8-2.

The opener, a heavyweight bout slated for six rounds, matched two Phoenix-based fighters in a rematch. Kingsley Ibeh, a former standout defensive lineman for the Washburn College Ichabods, avenged his lone defeat and improved to 4-1 with a fourth-round stoppage of Waldo Cortes (5-3). Ibeh, who at 286 had a 39-pound weight advantage, softened Cortes up with a series of uppercuts and Cortes was on his way down when he was tagged with a glancing left hand. He got to his feet, but referee Vic Drakulich waived it off. The official time was 1:41.

Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

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