By Steve Kim
This much is clear: Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana will fight again on Sept. 13 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Back on May 3, the two engaged in a hard-fought 12-rounder that saw Mayweather get pushed to the brink in winning a majority decision. This was nearly a fight that didn't come off, as there was a debate over which gloves were to be used for this fight -- and yes, only in byzantine and bizarre world of boxing could this occur.
After the weigh-in, Mayweather and his team vehemently objected to a pair of custom made gloves that were produced for the hard-hitting Argentine. At issue were the Everlast MX gloves, known in boxing circles as one that favors punchers such as Maidana. On the eve of the fight and even the day of the event, it was still unclear if this fight would proceed. Initially, Mayweather and his team insisted that his opponent wear the same Grant gloves that he customarily uses. The Nevada commission agreed with Mayweather in their assessment of Maidana's mitts, which were in the colors of the Argentine flag. Mayweather believed this glove was insufficient in the amount of padding it contained in the area's around the knuckles. Everlast -- whose brand took a beating this particular weekend -- wanted to make it clear that "custom made" didn't mean the restructuring of their gloves.
Eventually, a stock pair of red Everlast MX gloves were brought in and green-lighted by the authorities. But this didn't assuage the Mayweather camp, who threatened to cancel the promotion. Now, you can argue this was all done to hype the proceedings, but really the potential cancellation of an event isn't exactly the way to drive pay-per-view sales. Those involved still had no idea whether this fight would take place as the clock wound down.
Robert Garcia, who trains Maidana, recalled, "It was 3 p.m. [on the afternoon of the fight] when I was called to go downstairs to one of those media rooms. So when I show up the show has already started. So, I thought I was going to choose from red MX gloves but they had the other gloves there, the Powerlock, and they told me, 'I had to try them on.' I said, 'Why do I have to try them? You guys chose them for me.' Well, they had two pairs. 'You gotta try the left and right.' I said, 'What for? You guys are forcing us to wear those.' So they wanted me to sign off on those gloves and I said, 'No, I'm walking away because they aren't the gloves I agreed to.'"
Eventually an agreement was made (that may have resulted in extra money being thrown at Maidana on top of his $1.5 million purse) to get Maidana to wear gloves that were a compromise between the two sides. Realistically, both were at the point of no return.
"We had no choice," said Garcia. "To my understanding there was no settlement, it was just that we had to fight. There were thousands of people from Argentina who came to watch the fight, and 'Chino' wasn't going to just walk away without a fight. Even though there would've been a lawsuit or whatever, that was going to take forever. Whatever the case is, 'Chino' was not going to walk away with thousands of fans who came to support him."
So what's the difference between the MX and Powerlock gloves? An Everlast rep who was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue explained via email:
The MX is a Mexican made glove with a soft leather and a combination of foam and horsehair. The horse hair is in a pouch that makes it impossible to maneuver around. The PowerLock is an all foam glove made with a high density foam and a ergonomically positioned thumb, making a natural fist easier to accomplish and streamlining the profile of the glove for easy guard splitting. I would say it's an all-around glove whereas the MX is a puncher's glove first.
So gloves do make a difference?
"Look," Garcia said, "when a fighter is used to fighting in certain type of gloves, he's sure of those gloves. A perfect example, you have a world-class soccer player and the day of the game they give him brand new cleats that he's never wore before. Of course he's not going to feel comfortable. So that's the same thing."
This past Thursday on the final leg of their media tour to hype the rematch, Maidana said through an interpreter inside a cramped conference room at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, "During the fight I didn't really notice the difference in gloves but it wasn't till after I was reflecting on the fight that I noticed a different. The gloves I was made to wear, they were sliding off of him, they felt like they were sliding off of him. They were just different. I think if I would've had my gloves it would've made a difference."
Even though Mayweather-Maidana 2 -- which has been given the tag "Mayhem" -- has been announced, there still isn't an agreement on what type of gloves will be used for this rematch. There was an urgency to get the ball rolling on this promotion as it's only eight weeks out from the weekend of Sept. 13.
"It really hasn't been worked out, I don't have any information, I'll leave that up to my team but I want to use my gloves," Maidana said."I want to use my gloves and I think it's going to be a fight. We're going to have to argue that point but I want to use my gloves."
When it was Mayweather's turn to face the media, he was steadfast in his stance against the preferred gloves of Maidana.
"If he wants to fight MMA, I wish him the best," Mayweather said. "If he wants to fight bare knuckle, I wish him the best. But if you're going to fight me, you're going to fight me on a level playing field." Adding, "I gave you the rematch. Don't go complaining about the gloves. You said you won the first fight? If you think you won the first fight, then fight me with the same gloves you say you beat me with the first time."
"Level playing field" is a phrase that Mayweather repeatedly said on this day. When asked if he was going to insist that Maidana wear his brand, Grant -- known for being more protective of the hands and preferred by boxers -- said, "I just want a fair playing field." For Mayweather, this is about his own health and safety.
"I'm the face of boxing, it's about picking up the sport, random blood and urine testing, boxing gloves, fighters need to be on a level playing field," he said, noting how he was protecting the next chapters of his life and career away from boxing.
It must be noted that the commission agreed with his concerns over the lack of padding on the custom pair of gloves. So he wasn't out of line in that instance. But what's interesting is that he also objected to another pair that the commission approved. Ironically, the MX model just happens to be the same one that was worn by Miguel Cotto when he faced Mayweather back in 2012. It was a fight that Mayweather won on the scorecards by wide margins but came out of the fight bloodied and bruised at the hands of the Puerto Rican star.
In addition to Cotto, the list of professional pugilists who have worn this model is long and illustrious: Brandon Rios, Mike Alvarado, Jesse Vargas, Nonito Donaire, Mikey Garcia, Lucien Bute, Jermain Taylor, Bryan Vera, Alfredo Angulo, Paulie Malignaggi, etc.
"Hundreds of fighters also wear that glove, we're not the only ones. The Everlast MX is approved by every commission," Garcia points out. What's more interesting is that J'Leon Love, Ishe Smith, Ashley Theophane and Luis Arias, a quartet of boxers who box under 'Mayweather Promotions' have used this very same make and model.
Moving forward, it's not clear which gloves will be agreed upon by both camps. Bob Bennett, the new executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, says it's a subject that they really have no say on. "It's a contractual issue," he said on early Tuesday afternoon. "That's between the promoters." He also explained that it's the champions prerogative to use his choice of gloves. For their first meeting, Mayweather and Maidana both came into the fight with welterweight titles.
Bennett -- who was not on the job back in May -- explained that as the regulators of this event, "We review the contract, we inspect the gloves and currently we're in the process of putting together a glove procedure for all the promoters."
For this past weekend's bout between Saul Alvarez and Erislandy Lara, Bennett explained that both fighters camps brought their gloves on the Wednesday before the fight and were then inspected by the commission, who kept custody of them. On Friday, after the weigh-in, there was a specific room for the selection of the gloves, the primary and alternate pairs. "Everything went real smooth, both camps were real happy," said Bennett.
So which gloves will be used when they meet again? Well, the guess is that Mayweather, being the house fighter, will get his way. Not only is he the champion in this fight coming into the return bout, he is, as his moniker state, the "Money" in this equation, and he means an awful lot to this city. Remember, this jurisdiction delayed a 90-day sentence for domestic battery in 2012 to allow him to face Cotto.
Vegas is Mayweather's town.
And with that, Maidana, will most likely use the gloves Mayweather approves.
* * *