In just under one week’s time on Saturday, September 13th, the mythical pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather (46-0, 26 KO) fights Marcos Maidana (35-4, 31 KO) in just the second rematch in his career. The bout and three mediocre undercard fights will be live on Showtime PPV from the one and only MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. One notable difference in this promotion is the start time will be one hour earlier at 8 pm EST/ 5 pm PT. I will jump in on the appetizers first before building up to the tempting main course.

The opening bout of the four fight card will feature Alfredo Angulo (22-4, 18 KO) taking on James De la Rosa (22-2, 13 KO) in a ten round middleweight attraction. Angulo, who has lost three of his last five fights and two consecutive, is hoping a move up in weight class from 154 pounds to 160 will re-energize his stalling career. After taking on Erislandy Lara and Canelo Alvarez it’s a good move for him to take a non-threatening fight for his first look at the higher division. Despite De la Rosa’s solid record on paper, he has lost two of his last four fights and his resume sports no notable wins or names (until now). I’m taking Angulo by seventh round stoppage.

The next fight on the card is Mayweather stablemate Mickey Bey (20-1-1, 10 KO) against Miguel Vazquez (34-3, 13 KO). This is a twelve rounder for Vazquez’ IBF lightweight title. Bey has rebounded since his crushing loss to John Molina (featured in the Showtime Extreme undercard bout prior to the PPV) by winning consecutive fights over B level opponents. His first shot at a world title comes against a Mexican who fights against the stereotype of his countrymen. The defense-first mentality of Miguel Vazquez has kept him out of wars and mostly in the win column in his career. His only three losses are to excellent fighters (Canelo Alvarez twice and Tim Bradley Jr.) I believe this will be a fight only diehard defensive fight fans will enjoy and I take Vazquez in a wide decision.

The co-feature is Leo Santa Cruz (27-0-1, 15 KO) taking on little-known Manuel Roman (17-2-3, 6 KO). Santa Cruz is fighting for just the second time in 2014 after three appearances in 2013 and five in 2012. To be frank, his opponent has no business being in the ring with Santa Cruz and even less business being on the co-feature of a major pay-per-view event. I am taking Leo Santa Cruz to overwhelm and stop (for the first time) Roman in the fifth round.

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The main event is Floyd Mayweather’s first rematch since he out pointed Jose Luis Castillo twice in 2002. Mayweather is giving Marcos Maidana one more giant payday and shot to dethrone the champ. Marcos made a great run at Mayweather in the first bout in May 2014, bull rushing and attacking Floyd with assaults from all angles in a gritty (sometimes dirty) war of attrition where Mayweather was tested in ways the boxing public hadn’t seen in years. We’ve seen Mayweather systematically break down and frustrate fighters who tried to outbox him (Canelo Alvarez, Robert Guerrero) but his more entertaining bouts have come when aggressive, action fighters have come right at him and pushed their style onto Mayweather.

Maidana had a stunning level of success in the first fight by mauling and overwhelming Mayweather with bunches of punches from every conceivable angle. It took a combination of Maidana’s endurance and energy wearing down and Floyd’s computer-like boxing brain catching up to the offensive game plan mixed with expert counterpunching to win Mayweather the close majority decision. Public outcry wasn’t massive for a rematch but Floyd’s other options are fairly limited and the fight was (along with his bouts with Miguel Cotto and Oscar De La Hoya) the most entertaining in the past ten years.

Maidana seems to be entering his physical and more importantly, mental prime as a pugilist. Under the guidance of Robert Garcia, Marcos has elevated his game to a different level. He is no longer a simple, stand and trade, blood and guts brawler. There is some subtlety and craft to his boxing. He may never be on the level of a Mayweather or Marquez in that respect but he is clearly a different fighter than the one who failed against purer boxers like Devon Alexander and Amir Khan.

As for Floyd, if he is slowing down the last fight may have shown some of the wear and tear of all of his years in the ring. But he remains a superbly trained, excellent athlete with the strongest defensive prowess in the game. In the first fight a combination of factors were working against Floyd. He was in a bad place mentally after going through a separation with his girlfriend. Floyd made a rather large show of complaining about Maidana’s gloves while he was in the locker room pre-fight (they made a financially settlement and Maidana changed the gloves). He had a difficult time with veteran referee Tony Weeks who allowed a good amount of roughhousing and nasty tactics which clearly favored the aggressor, Maidana.

My take is Floyd uses his knowledge of Maidana gained from the first fight and tries to keep the fight in the middle of the ring where he can get in and out of the pocket and find room to land his signature clean counter punches. Marcos will have to show something different and I’m confident Garcia will have a solid game plan that will be coupled with a greater endurance to throw more punches and have more left in the tank for the final half of the fight. I am taking the otherworldly talent over tenacity and Mayweather by a slightly wider decision than last time. Maidana will make another good showing for himself but I don’t see him taking away Mayweather’s precious zero.

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