Stoic and stone-faced, Marcos Maidana (35-3, 31 KOs) blends in with the blue collar workers bringing sacks of corn and rice to outdoor merchants in the blue collar districts of Santa Fe, Argentina. One of eight children, educated in the value of hard work by a field worker father, Maidana talks about sometimes, as a child, having to hunt his own small prey in order to eat.
Born and raised in Margarita, a small, dusty town of about 3,000 located two hours by bus from the more opulent Santa Fe, Maidana learned the lessons of self-reliance as a child. By the time he began training in the sport that would define his life, he was already a full-time working man at fifteen years of age with a police record. Almost immediately, he knew that he had found his life’s calling.
“Right then and there I realized that, if I wanted to be someone special, my fists were my only weapons. I think that hunger and that realization is what makes me a dangerous man in the ring,” Maidana recently told the Argentine press in advance of his May 3 bout with Floyd Mayweather.
To this day, despite becoming well-known in his home country and a mainstay on the U.S. fight scene, Maidana still seems uneasy in the limelight. He’s still a hunter by nature and nurture, and someone who’d rather be in the struggle than in the spotlight.
“Being in the ring isn’t hard,” Maidana says, “The fucked up part is being a champion on the street. Luckily, I’m still surrounded by the same people who knew me before I was a champion…I don’t like being away from my people and my town. I haven’t changed much…probably because I didn’t want to change.”
In Floyd Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs), Maidana will find himself face to face with boxing’s (so far) unsolvable riddle and undisputed king of in-ring execution.
Mayweather-Maidana tells the strange tale of two men engaged in the same profession, driven by the same motivations, but taken to extreme opposites in both temperament and style.
Maidana’s playful bragging about his “imported” car and new gold tooth, don’t even come close to Mayweather’s pathological need to “bling” at all times. And, Maidana, who is ultimately attracted to silence and order, is the exact opposite of a Mayweather who appears to be deathly afraid of stillness and silence.
Also raised in poverty but in the boxing-rich Mayweather family environment, Floyd Jr. established himself as a boxing prodigy and, at a young age, grew too big for his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Mayweather’s story of rags to extreme riches has been told thousands of times already, but it never loses its impact. The kid otherwise thought to have a bleak future, gained his fortune with a new jack, hip-hop bad guy gimmick, reinforced by this generation’s greatest set of high-end skills and a genius-level ring IQ.
Arguably the most hated and most loved man in the game, Mayweather has become “Must See” TV for fight fans and, with the help of a smarter than smart business team behind him, has become the biggest revenue generator in the history of the game.
For this fight, Mayweather will earn a base pay of $32.5 million with an undisclosed share of PPV revenue which could conservatively bring him at least ten to fifteen million more when numbers are finally tallied. Maidana, meanwhile, will earn a $1.5 million dollar base and, according to reports in the Latin American press, a portion of the South American TV money.
As fighters, the difference between Mayweather and Maidana is even greater than the difference between both as men and businessmen.
Mayweather is a cerebral opportunist supported by God-given natural ability and hard-earned, almost superhuman conditioning.
Always at an angle and a half-beat off the standard 1-2, Mayweather, right off the bat, presents an awkward and puzzling target for traditional fighters. The task of actually hitting him becomes increasingly difficult as Mayweather quickly analyzes the rhythm and timing of his opponent and begins to assert his own offense.
Typically, by the third or fourth round, Mayweather has read the book on his opponent, analyzed the book, and begins writing an air-tight rebuttal book.
Once Mayweather has locked in on the solution to his opponent, all is lost and opponents usually fall into a sort of daze– out of ideas and out of hope, doing just enough to save face while riding out the humiliating, high-profile ring lesson.
“Money” has stripped the confidence from some tremendously tough men over the years, but Marcos Maidana may be a completely different animal.
If there is an ounce of self-doubt in the heavy-handed Argentine, it has yet to manifest itself.
Maidana can be hit, he can be hurt, and he can be outboxed, but not at any point is he defeated. Utterly unflappable, Maidana is the hunter calmly stalking his prey, so focused on the kill that there is nothing else in the universe.
Men like Maidana don’t get discouraged– they keep plugging forward until there is no more forward. On the surface, this brutish confidence suggests ignorance, perhaps someone maybe too dumb to know when he is being outclassed.
In reality, though, Maidana only knows what he knows and what his every instinct tells him– plug forward, move your hands, hit something and, more often than not, the obstacle in front of you will be torn down.
In recent fights, under the tutelage of Robert Garcia, Maidana has added some substance to his brute strength and dogged determination. A surprisingly good jab, both to the head and body, does a great deal to help him against movers. A lead left hand has proven to be a surprising, out-of-nowhere jaw-rattler that worked wonders in his win over Adrien Broner last December. With strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza on his team, Maidana also seems physically stronger and more capable of delivering a full round of action.
Add all of this to what already makes Maidana dangerous and you get a Mayweather opponent who may be in over his head, but won’t fight like it.
Expect a full twelve rounds of heated pursuit and impact whenever possible. Maidana’s wide, wild punching style may even have its benefits against a fighter like Mayweather, who feasts on orthodox, predictable opposition. Don’t be surprised if a wild, cuffing shot from Maidana makes things interesting at one point or another.
But, ultimately, Mayweather is too good and too smart to lose to Maidana. “Money” will know that he’s been in a fight at the end of the evening, but a Maidana who will be punching Mayweather’s arms, forearms, shoulders, hips, and at the air around him, won’t ever find that sweet spot.
Expect all to remain the same after this May 3 clash. Mayweather will remain the undefeated superstar with the rap star attitude and ring genius aptitude; Maidana will keep his spot as the bone-crushing battler capable of beating anyone not named Mayweather.