Floyd Mayweather has had it up to here with Marcos Maidana.
The 37-year-old pound-for-pound king brought his show to New York City Monday afternoon, the beginning of a five-city press tour to promote his September 13 welterweight championship rematch with the Argentine at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Mayweather has built his empire with a keen nose for opportunity, and he’s better at drumming up public interest and curiosity—both sell—than any fighter in boxing history. It’s not unusual to see him goading, criticizing and outright insulting opponents on the road to a fight. But there was something noticeably different about his tone toward Maidana Monday.
This wasn’t just the usual pre-fight bluster. Mayweather has a chip on his shoulder, and Maidana is the one who put it there.
He’s the bad guy again, and he let Maidana know just how bad he can be at Monday’s press conference, openly challenging him on the stage.
“Since I know I’m making probably about $70 million [for the fight], he believes in his skills, and I believe in my skills. So however much you’re making for the fight, I bet you I beat you. That’s how much I believe in myself,” Mayweather chided Maidana, who was sitting next to him.
“So if you believe in your skills like you say you believe in your skills, however much you’re making for the fight, I bet I beat you."
Maidana’s team responded by asking an animated Mayweather, who was in the midst of working the crowd into a frenzy, whether their fighter would be allowed to wear his preferred gloves if he accepted the bet.
Mayweather refused to respond, and Maidana’s team declined, prompting the pound-for-pound king to exclaim that he had pulled “his [Maidana’s] ho card,” and telling Mayweather Promotions’ CEO Leonard Ellerbe to “talk about this bum.”
It was a vintage Mayweather rant, but it had a very real flavor. Everything about Maidana just seems to get under his skin.
From the issue over gloves, which almost derailed their May 3 contest in the closing hours, to Maidana’s wild and—yes—often dirty method of attack in the fight, culminating with his offensive—to Mayweather, anyway—claims that he, you know, might have done enough to win.
“First they [Team Maidana] want to use gloves with no padding, and then they want to use knees, elbows and everything else. My back is always against the wall with Team Maidana.” Mayweather told the media Monday.
“Is Maidana a better fighter than Canelo? No. Cotto? No. He's just a dirtier fighter. I didn't get a deep gash from a punch; I got it from a headbutt.”
Maidana may not be as talented as those other fighters, but he gave Mayweather his toughest fight in years. It was clearly better than Canelo's effort and one could argue better than Cotto's as well.
He attacked from every angle, using punches, elbows, headbutts and the occasional knee to rough up his foe.
Mayweather was cut for the first time in his professional career—an amazing stat in a career that has spanned nearly two decades and 46 pro outings—the result of a fourth-round headbutt, and took a little longer to figure out his foe’s wild, rough style.
The fight was competitive, yes, but not particularly close. By the second half, Mayweather had figured Maidana out, and the bout settled into a familiar pattern for those who have followed the career of the Grand Rapids, Michigan, native.
But, still, public perception is important—especially for a fighter who values his legacy and has something of an ego—and Mayweather wants to set the record straight: He’s tired of Maidana getting the benefit of the doubt for fighting what—to his eyes—was a dirty fight.
“Was I ever hurt? Sure, the shots to the back of the head hurt. Whenever you're in a heated battle, you are going to be sore. It comes with the territory,” Mayweather said.
“Marcos Maidana came out and gave a tough effort. I mean he fought his heart out, but it wasn’t clean.”
The feeling of not getting sufficient credit from fans and media is not new when it comes to boxing’s undefeated and undisputed best fighter.
He’s been so good during his run to the top of the sport, never beaten and rarely so much as challenged, that his fights are often treated as mere formality. Opponents, even quality ones, are dismissed largely because he makes them look bad once they step through the ropes.
That’s obviously a Mayweather-friendly perspective on the subject, and you can quibble about whom he has and hasn't fought. But there is an element of truth to it, a hypocrisy that he faces, which many other fighters don’t.
“Cotto is a solid competitor, but we saw what happened to him against Floyd Mayweather. When he fought me, they said he was washed up. Then he fights again and wins [against Sergio Martinez], and apparently, he has been resurrected. Same with Marquez,” Mayweather said on the topic.
And that brings it full circle.
Maidana was easily dismissed the first time around. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone willing to give him anything beyond a lottery-shot puncher’s chance against a man considered to be boxing’s gold standard of in-ring performance.
His performance, in a clear losing effort, far exceeded expectations, and that—among a few other reasons—is why we are back here again.
Mayweather refuses to leave any doubt. There was none against Hatton, Marquez, Mosley, Cotto or Canelo.
And he cannot accept there being any with Maidana. It's just not how he plays the game.
It’s unclear what, if anything, Maidana will be able to change in four months that will give him a better chance of scoring an epic upset. But for his part, Mayweather says he isn’t planning on changing a thing.
But he couldn’t even say that without taking one final dig.
“My job is to win. Everyone remembers a winner. That's my legacy,” Mayweather said.
“I don't need to change my style. The guy, who got the loss, needs to change his style.”
Kevin McRae is a featured boxing columnist for Bleacher Report and an auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. You can follow him on Twitter @McRaeBoxing.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.