Slowly but surely, the undercard for the Mayweather-Maidana welterweight bout on May 3rd at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas has come together, fight by fight.
But as it did, it underlined the fact that Mayweather’s undercards continue to look more and more like “live auditions” destined to drum up a possible opponent for Floyd Mayweather.
Regardless of how good a marketing move this may be, the truth is that this is beginning to take its toll on a division filled with talented fighters who sit idle for months while they wait for the results of the next round in Team Mayweather’s selection process.
One such fighter is Britain’s Amir Khan (28-3, 19 KO), a former 140 lb champ who will be fighting former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo (35-5, 18 KO) in the undercard of this May 3rd event. After Mayweather had famously started a social media-driven poll to find his next opponent, Khan celebrated and followed the poll enthusiastically, declaring that his chances of getting the fight were very high on numerous occasions, but always falling one step short of taking the fight for granted.
But as the poll progressed, the ample difference between Mayweather’s own poll and others conducted by other media led some people to doubt the legitimacy Mayweather’s survey. And this may have led to his choosing of Marcos Maidana (a fighter who, unlike Khan, will hardly sell any tickets nor generate any PPV income of his own) probably under the pressure of network suits, press and fans alike, who were not exactly keen on watching the best fighter on the planet taking on an opponent whose merits included merely a 2-2 streak in the past 3 years and a solid fan base.
Undestandably, Khan exploded in a Twitter rant against Floyd a few days after the announcement of Maidana as Floyd’s next opponent. His claims of having “wasted (his) time” while waiting for what loomed as the biggest payday of his career, and that Floyd is “running scared” of him are a bit of a stretch, but that’s the way you act when the one fighter who could have made you a few million bucks goes out for cigarettes in the middle of the night only to come back five hours later smelling like cheap motel soap, mixed in with the faint waft of excrement emanating from his excuses.
But even in the face of this painfully unromantic selective process, the parade of bridesmaids waiting for their turn to tie the proverbial million-dollar knot will continue. And it will have yet another chapter in this undercard, where the winner of the Khan-Collazo bout will automatically assume he has just caught the bride’s bouquet in mid-air. Booking the MGM Grand for a mid-September ceremony will be the logical next step in this new episode of the Mayweather Sweepstakes.
The question of how healthy is it to have some of boxing’s best fighters building their careers around a potential fight with the game’s most profitable fighter, however, will remain unanswered for a little bit longer.
The best of the rest
One of the other two televised fights will feature a wild card bout destined to put another name in the playoff brackets of this seemingly eternal TMT (which is an acronym for The Money Team, but it might as well be a synonym for The Mayweather Tournament).
The second televised bout of the evening will feature Adrien Broner (27-1, 22 KO) dropping back to junior welterweight (the one division he skipped altogether in his quest for supremacy at 147) to take on a former Khan victim in Carlos Molina (17-1-1, 7 KO) in a 10 round comeback bout. Certainly, nobody expected to see Broner in a comeback bout this early in his career, but after his devastating loss against Maidana this could be even considered a crossroads bout, since he may end up headed in a very different direction should he lose this challenge.
But there’s very little room for surprises here. Common sense says Broner will come out on top, perhaps showing a more polished version of the fighter that put his name in the pound-for-pound mix with his speed and mad boxing skills at 130 and 135. The weight drop will suit him just fine in this endeavor.
Previously, a super middleweight fight will take place between J’Leon Love (yep, if I had that name, I would have gotten into a fight every day in high school and become a prizefighter later, too) and Mexican Olympian Marco Antonio Periban (a fighter much better equipped in the onomastic department, with a mix of Roman conqueror and generic denomination for analgesic drugs beautifully combined).
It’s an interesting fight between two up-and-coming challengers, with Love (17-0, 10 KO) rising fast as a solid contender and Periban (20-1-1, 13 KO) trying to erase the memory of his only loss (in a title bout) and his unfair draw against Badou Jack (who has since been unceremoniously KO’d in the first round of his next bout ). Love may give Periban trouble with his smooth boxing skills, but the Mexican fighter is resilient and patience enough (not to mention skilled) to wait for his moment to shine. It will be interesting to see who gets the love and who gets the painkiller at the end of the night.