Mayweather suggests chance to set Maidana record straight

By Lyle Fitzsimmons | CBSSports.com

Call it the red carpet heard round the boxing world.

Within moments of casually informing a BET Awards hostess of his intention to meet Marcos Maidana in a rematch of their combative 12 rounds in May -- which he won by closer-than-expected majority decision -- Floyd Mayweather Jr. had fans and observers already counting the days until September.

“Sept. 13. Back to business. Marcos Maidana/Floyd Mayweather, part two,” he said.

And while it's not been made official by a set of signed contracts or a formal press conference gathering, the mere implication by “Money” that the fight will indeed occur has set the sport's media contingent to critiquing the choice and how it'll impact Mayweather's ever-important legacy.

The five-division champion turned 37 in February and has been a professional for 18 years since bursting onto the scene with a medal-winning performance at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

He won his first world championship -- at 130 pounds -- eight days short of his two-year anniversary as a pro and has subsequently added titles at four more weight increments, 135, 140, 147 and 154 pounds, while running his career record to 46-0 with 26 knockouts and earning long-term status as the world's No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter from The Ring.

The defeat of Maidana added the World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight championship belt to the World Boxing Council (WBC) title that he carried into the ring.

In Mayweather's 20 fights that have gone the distance, only once -- against Oscar De La Hoya in 2007 -- did even one of three official ringside judges score in favor of an opponent. And only twice, against Canelo Alvarez last September and versus Maidana in May, did a judge so much as call a fight a draw.

It's the latter of those two judgments that is steering Mayweather toward a second try here.

In spite of the officially close verdicts against De La Hoya and Alvarez, there's really been only one fight, against Jose Luis Castillo in April 2002, in which Mayweather supporters and detractors shrug in unison and say, “Yeah, he might have really gotten away with that one.”

HBO's unofficial judge, Harold Lederman, saw Castillo as a 115-111 winner, and blow-by-blow man Jim Lampley reacted to the official verdict by stonily saying “Not the fight we saw.”

Mayweather offset the discord by offering Castillo a rematch during the subsequent post-fight interview, and their second get-together eight months later still marks the only time in his career that he's faced the same opponent twice. As it turned out, not only did he win the second go-round on an official basis, but he also changed the perception of Lederman and others, taking the HBO scorecard by a 115-113 margin and earning wide kudos for having overcome his biggest challenge to date.

In Maidana, he gets the chance to certify another victory perceived by some as iffy.

Though most media scorecards had Mayweather winning in May, it was nonetheless a far closer fight than most imagined after the former had entered as a huge favorite.

In fact, the fight was seen by most as even through six rounds -- CBSSports.com had it 3-3 before Mayweather pulled away in the second half -- and Maidana clearly irritated his more celebrated foe with a frequent lean toward rough tactics that included shots behind the head and low blows.

“You have a beautiful family and you're a true champion,” Mayweather told him at a post-fight press gathering, “but in the next fight don't hit me in the (groin) so much. I do want to make some more kids.”

The fight with Maidana will be the fourth in Mayweather's six-fight pay-per-view deal with Showtime that he signed in 2013, and he's said repeatedly that he plans to retire upon completion of the pact -- meaning he'll fight this September, then in May and September next year before hanging it up.

His remarks to BET raised eyebrows, too, because of his implication that fight No. 48 would be special, though he didn't specify whether that description pertained to the opponent, the venue or something else.

“I'm fighting in May and I'm gonna have a big surprise for y'all,” he said. “Everybody tune in.”


Weekend Watch List

ESPN2 -- Wednesday, 9 p.m.
Michael Farenas vs. Mark Davis -- 10 rounds, junior lightweights
Billy Dib vs. Alberto Garza -- 10 rounds, junior lightweights

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