Not many people have come closer to putting the first blemish on unbeaten Floyd Mayweather’s record than Marcos Maidana did on May 3. With a furious barrage of punches – he threw 858 in total – Maidana was able to dictate parts of the action even though Mayweather held on for the win. On Sept. 13, Maidana will put what he learned to the test when he squares off against Mayweather again. (Fight card begins at 8 p.m. ET on Showtime PPV.) It won’t be easy: Mayweather’s not 46-0 by accident and defeating him will require the effort of Maidana’s career. But the challenger is capable of pulling it off. Here’s how we know:
1. He’s already pushed Mayweather hard.
The rematch wouldn’t be happening if the first fight weren’t competitive. According to CompuBox’s stats, Maidana landed more punches than any Mayweather opponent before him. Mayweather, thus far, is unbeatable … but he’s not invincible. Maidana knows that better than anyone.
2. He’s proven he can take Mayweather’s best shot.
Although Maidana landed more punches than a typical Mayweather opponent, Mayweather landed more (connecting on 230 punches to Maidana’s 221, according to CompuBox). Mayweather was especially effective on power punches, landing 178 of 274 for a 65 percent success rate. Despite absorbing all those hits, Maidana went the distance. He didn’t let Mayweather’s reputation overwhelm him last time and has even less reason to be intimidated now.
3. He knows he can get under Mayweather’s skin.
As demonstrated above, Mayweather left his first bout with Maidana with two things besides the win: 1) respect for Maidana’s skills; and 2) annoyance at some of his fighting tactics. Don’t expect Maidana to change. Against a fighter such as Mayweather, every possible advantage is precious. (And that’s not even getting into this.)
4. He knows what works against Mayweather in the ring – and what doesn’t.
Maidana and his team undoubtedly studied Mayweather hard before the fight in May, but there’s no teacher like experience. Expect to see a similar big-picture strategy – lots of punches, all the time – but certain elements could change. Will Maidana elect to start slightly slower, saving more energy for later rounds? Will he throw fewer jabs (CompuBox’s numbers said he connected on only 11 percent of his 318 jabs last time around), or does he feel they’ll be necessary to keep Mayweather honest? We won’t know until fight night, but Maidana now has concrete experience on which to base these decisions.
5. This fight is all he’s thinking about. Exhibit A:
Maidana believes he was robbed in May. Most of the crowd at the fight seemed to agree. You can bet the anger over that perceived slight has been fueling his training ever since. It’s not just the revenge factor that will give Maidana a mental edge. He knows he can go toe-to-toe with the world’s best. There’s also the comfort of knowing that because he’s the sport’s biggest star and has an undefeated record, Mayweather always has more to lose than his opponent. Mayweather still presents the toughest task of Maidana’s career, but Maidana has the right combination of talent and attitude to – if he does everything right – pull off the upset.