Thursday, 11 September 2014 22:09

Mayweather vs. Maidana 2: “Got any excuses tonight, Floyd?”

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A little over ten years ago, the unthinkable actually happened, and the boxing world was turned on its axis.
On May 15th, 2004, a seemingly unbeatable Roy Jones Jr. was viciously stopped by former Olympic Bronze medalist and former IBF/WBC Light Heavyweight title holder Antonio Tarver in their fateful return bout at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Although the fighter most affectionately known as “Superman” by his legion of adoring fans struggled in a very tough, physical battle just six months prior with the man who would eventually hand him his first legitimate professional loss, most fight fans and media members didn’t see the proverbial “shot heard ‘round the world” coming in the highly publicized championship rematch.


Should the boxing community have anticipated the inevitable KO loss, and could the same scenario eerily play out this Saturday night when the ostensibly perfect Floyd Mayweather Jr. fights the hard punching Marcos “El Chino” Maidana once again?

After scoring somewhat of a career defining achievement in becoming the WBA Heavyweight title holder in March of 2003, most fight fans and critics felt that Roy’s first meeting with Antonio Tarver was an underwhelming encore to his spectacular accomplishment and virtuoso performance against John Ruiz.

Despite heading into the contest a heavy betting favorite, “Superman” shockingly showed the symptoms of an aging prizefighter when pitted against the former Olympian, narrowly edging out the aggressive minded “Magic Man” with a surprisingly competitive majority decision victory.


The scores at ringside were 114-114, 117-111, and 116-112...all in favor of Roy Jones Jr.

The controversial victory set the table for the eventual rematch with Antonio Tarver in May of 2004.

While some boxing pundits were posing the serious question, “Can Roy Jones Jr. still look like Superman at age 35”, most ringside observers chalked the shaky 2003 performance up to a bad day at the office and favored RJJ in the highly anticipated second bout against the determined Orlando native.

Although the always solid third man in the ring, Kenny Bayless, showed his usual brand of professionalism while officiating the first bout with Tarver, the aging fight veteran requested the services of his referee of choice, Jay “Stop Holding” Nady, to monitor the action in the return bout.

Jones felt that the more customarily officious Nady would keep some much needed order in his second meeting with Tarver, theoretically allowing Roy to strategically keep the fight in the center of the ring.

Little did the once dominant multi-division champ realize that the third man in the ring would be of little consequence on May 15th, 2004.

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Antonio’s now famed, “Got any excuses tonight, Roy,” inquiry to commence the festivities over ten years ago is now stuff of legend, and in retrospect exposed the mindset of both competing fighters.


Every die-hard boxing fan is well aware of the actions that quickly proceeded Tarver’s bold statement…Roy’s once impenetrable shield of invincibility was forever destroyed by one hard, compact left hand.

Will the same set of circumstances play out on September 13, 2014, when a 37 year old Floyd Mayweather Jr. enters the ring in a rematch with a determined Marcos “El Chino” Maidana?

When you look at the parallels of both situations, the similarities are uncanny.

After putting on a virtuoso like performance against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in September of 2013, fight fans and boxing critics believed the first meeting between Mayweather and Maidana to be somewhat of a hangover match-up with little to no sizzle. As a result, Mayweather Jr. marched into the May 3rd contest with Maidana as a 14 to 1 betting favorite on most sports books.

Image courtesy of Showtime

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To the surprise of most, Marcos Maidana gave the defensive master a surprisingly competitive and physically demanding challenge, in which many believed “El Chino” did enough to deserve the victory with a workmanlike effort.


Although the verdict was controversial, Floyd won a majority decision with ominous scores of 114-114, 117-111, and 116-112...exactly how the first contest between Jones and Tarver was scored.

As a result of the physically grueling first affair with the hard charging Argentine, Floyd publicly scrutinized the officiating of third man in the ring Tony Weeks, claiming that experienced referee didn’t do enough to control the action in the ring.

In steps veteran official Kenny Bayless…the same ref who was replaced by Jay Nady after the initial bout between Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio Tarver for not being adequately officious.

Despite the sporadic questions of Floyd’s ability to put on a dominant performance at age 37 by many fight writers, most fight fans and boxing scribes are favoring Mayweather Jr. in the highly anticipated rematch.

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With only days remaining until Floyd’s 47th professional bout, does Floyd still have the passion and drive to put forth another “Mayweather-esque” performance on the biggest stage of boxing, or will “Money May” shockingly suffer a similar fate to that of Roy Jones Jr. in his rematch against Antonio Tarver over ten years ago?


In the theater of the unexpected that is boxing, fight fans will have to tune in on Saturday, September 13th to see how this saga unfolds.

 

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