The Edge: Five Questions About the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana-Amir Khan Saga

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Why Did Amir Khan Lose Out on a Fight with Floyd Mayweather, Jr.?

There are a few reasons why Amir Khan is currently on one long crying jag and producing weepy press releases for all to skim between pop-up ads and slideshows about WAGS. But the biggest reason Marcos Maidana is facing Floyd Mayweather, Jr., may be Adrien Broner—in more ways than one. When Maidana steamrolled Broner last December on Showtime, he instantly raised his profile on several non-boxing media outlets and instantaneously created a scenario for Golden Boy Promotions to exploit. Maidana is the man who beat the “Next Mayweather,” but how would he do against the real thing? (Of course, this is a plot that hardly compares to something Dickens might have dreamt up, but imagination is not a prerequisite in boxing.)

In addition, there is the possibility that Al Haymon was not as keen as the Twitterverse was on Broner exercising his rematch clause against Maidana. After all, not only was Broner thrashed by Maidana, but he was humiliated as well. He rose like man a suffering from Jake Leg after being knocked down in the second round, tried to buy a disqualification by writhing on the canvas like a two-year old in a Wal-Mart after Maidana butted him, hit the deck again in the eighth, was the victim of revenge humping, had his hair “brushed” by everyone but his father after the fight was over, and then fled the ring under a gauntlet of beer cups. Another loss to Maidana may have put an end to the Broner hype once and for all. By keeping Khan out of the mix, Haymon has managed to protect his client from a possible “L” and has guaranteed himself three slices of two very big future pies: one serving from a Broner comeback fight and two cuts of Mayweather-Maidana.

True, while Khan worked on his deltoids in the gym and got married, Maidana was in the trenches, waging fierce, small-scale war against Jesus Soto Karass, Josesito Lopez, and Adrien Broner. But if ever a fighter was let down by the shady backroom forces of boxing, it was Khan. Say what you will about his skipping out on Devon Alexander, the fact is, fighters do not make decisions of that magnitude without being counseled to do so. In the end, Al Haymon is like a line straight out of Glengarry Glen Ross: “Always be closing!” This time, he dropped the hammer on Amir Khan.


Was the Mayweather Poll a Publicity Stunt?

According to an internet poll set up by Team Mayweather (not exactly in the class of Gallup or Quinnipiac) a few weeks ago, Khan was the public choice to answer the bell against “Money” on May 3. Yet Mayweather, like Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, ignored the results of his own voting gimmick. Now why would he do a thing like that? With a mediascape based almost entirely on link bait, it takes less and less for something to be considered newsworthy these days. Most of what is typed, err, written, on boxing is, in fact, merely SEO foreplay, and premature extrapolation is never far behind. Nothing is not worth covering anymore—not with precious penny-clicks and Alexa rankings on the line—and the mere concept of selectivity is as outmoded as dialup or linotype. So, naturally, The Mayweather Poll generated not only terabytes of the worst kind of Blogese imaginable, but it also produced imitation polls to boot up an HTML frenzy among forum barkers and Twitterbeasts everywhere.

Trying to boost interest in his fight by creating an air of suspense over the selection of an opponent is certainly something Mayweather might have planned. And if Maidana was in the running because he beat Adrien Broner, then this sham may have been prepared in advance, as far back as December. Indeed, it is possible that Khan was never more than an unwitting catspaw for Mayweather, meant to make Maidana look good simply by comparison. Maidana may not be the best choice to fight Mayweather, but when you compare him to an inactive junior welterweight in a slump, “Chino” looks better and better with each passing nanosecond. Boxing is so often a cynical manipulation of reality that it is a wonder Jean Baudrillard never paid attention to it. Ultimately, the answer to this question is the same as so many others in boxing: maybe.


How Will Marcos Maidana Fare Against Mayweather?

You can go a long way in boxing these days with little more than brute force, and Maidana has gone nearly as far as he can go. Only an improbable win over Mayweather prevents him from reaching the pinnacle of his unforgiving profession. Among the most artless grinders to be found in the top-money ranks, Maidana is slow, throws looping punches, has limited mobility, and has iffy balance. And this describes Maidana 2.0! It turns out that Robert Garcia, who also trains Nonito Donaire and Mikey Garcia, has been able to instill a little method into the Maidana madness recently. Against Broner, he backed up occasionally, worked behind a jab, set himself at an angle on the inside, and even showed a little head movement. Unfortunately, none of that will matter on May 3. While Mayweather is 37 years old and slowing down a bit, he still has enough to beat a one-dimensional brawler whose struggles against Jesus Soto Karass and Josesito Lopez may prove that Maidana is closer to being a solid journeyman than a world-class fighter. Two years ago, Devon Alexander shut him down by using the Greco-Roman Method and he struggled against a weathered DeMarcus Corley before that. In other words, boxers are rarely kind to Maidana, and Mayweather is a legitimate ringmaster. Even so, any fighter who hits as hard as Maidana does always has a chance to land a single, crippling blow. Against Mayweather, his chances of landing that punch are at least zero.


Would Amir Khan Have Been a Better Opponent For Mayweather?

Although Amir Khan would certainly be a more marketable attraction to the general public than Marcos Maidana, his global appeal may be a little overstated. Even Khan admitted to leaving the U.K. because his popularity Q-rating was not the highest. Indeed, slurs greeted him at many fights in London and Manchester. Still, for a fight against Mayweather, some of the nastier punters in the U.K. would have left their Skrewdriver jerseys at home on pub night and snuggled up to “Khan Army” t-shirts as if they were replicas of the Union Jack. With ancillary revenue from Boxnation (and possibly parts of the Middle East) now just a dream interrupted, Golden Boy Promotions will have to figure out how to counterbalance what will be a major loss of pay-per-view buys in America.

As far as an actual fight goes, Khan would need a Special Ops team backing him to handle Floyd Mayweather, Jr., in the ring, no matter what someone who discovered boxing in 2008 thinks. “Styles make fights” is the moldy cliché some trot out to prove how well-versed they are in the hackneyed. But here is a surprise: “Styles make fights” matters only if there is comparable talent in the opposite corner. An elite fighter troubled by southpaws, for example, would not suddenly be bowled over by a third-rate lefty. For all his vaunted speed and boxing ability, Khan barely got through fights against Maidana and a washed-up Julio Diaz. Except for Zab Judah in 2006, Mayweather has had little trouble with boxers in his career. In fact, other than isolated moments against DeMarcus Corley and Shane Mosley, his only problems in 45 starts have been against fighters who pressed the action: Emanuel Burton/Augustus, Jose Luis Castillo (twice), and Miguel Cotto. Then again, maybe Khan is the master boxer so many say he is, and his struggles against Julio Diaz, Lamont Peterson, Danny Garcia, Breidis Prescott, and Michael Gomez were just anomalies. Khan is a superbly conditioned athlete who also happens to look good in a suit, but he is like a skyscraper with structural flaws hidden behind a gaudy façade: when that crack widens, the whole building may collapse in a ruin. Mayweather would likely seize the opportunity (as he did in spots against Victor Ortiz) to be more aggressive against a fragile opponent and score a rare KO win in five or six rounds.


Will the Mayweather-Maidana Promotion be Successful?

In boxing, where dishonesty is the best policy, corporate failures rarely come to light. If Mayweather-Maidana slips under the million buy-rate (not a good number, relatively speaking, for a “Money” fight, since Mayweather is guaranteed at least $35 million per outing), you will hear more spin from Leonard Ellerbe and the Showtime PR machine than you have from Chris Christie regarding Bridgegate. As far as buys go, Maidana will fall far short of the numbers put up by Miguel Cotto (1.5 million) and he will likely be off by over half from the Saul Alvarez-Mayweather spectacular (2.2 million). No other business in America would claim success if a product drops more than 50 percent in sales from one quarter to the next. But watch boxing do it, and with a straight face, too. Maidana is quiet, unflappable, does not speak English, and is part of an ethnic group not widely represented in America. Golden Boy Promotions and Showtime will have to work twice as hard to rook the gullible this time around.

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Tags: AMIR KHAN Floyd Mayweather Jr. MARCOS MAIDANA

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