Mitts of Mayhem: Brace Yourself for Glove Gate, Part II

You thought the Mayweather-Maidana I “glove gate” episode was over. You thought they would have it figured out completely before this weekend’s rematch, to avoid any last-minute, event-threatening snafus. You thought you only needed to start paying attention to Mayweather-Maidana 2 only a few seconds before the bell sounded to start the fight. Right?

Think again.

This time, you can expect the formerly ceremonial “throwing of the gauntlet” to be a little bit more than that, once again. And don’t be surprised if it ends up upstaging the very duel itself.

Let’s recap a little bit. Back in May, right after the weigh-in for their first fight (in which there were no surprises as both fighters weighted within the contractual limit), Floyd Mayweather proceeded to a back room escorted by his managerial team, to oversee the approval of the gloves for the fight.

Upon inspecting and even trying on Marcos Maidana’s Everlast MX model gloves, Mayweather decided that the gloves had too little padding on them, and therefore posed a risk to his health if used during the fight. He refused to allow Maidana to wear them and asked for Maidana to use the same Grant gloves he was going to use. He also cited the fact that the gloves were not in their original vacuum-sealed plastic wrap, which led to speculations that the gloves may have been tampered with.

At that moment, Maidana was absent from the event, which is a suspicious move, at best. In a fight of this magnitude, it is rare to see a fighter overlooking something as important as the approval of the gloves. A heated argument ensued, and several hours later (after frantic negotiations that threatened the cancellation of a multi-million dollar event already in progress), Maidana agreed to wear Everlast’s Powerlock model gloves, which contain more foam instead of the mix of foam and horse hair of the MX model. Happy ending, then.

However, a report surfaced later about Mayweather actually paying off Maidana to switch to the Powerlock model, since the Nevada State Athletic Commission had already approved the MX gloves, which would have placed the blame for cancelling the fight on Mayweather (who is also one of the promoters of the fight through his own company, and therefore financially liable).

Whatever the case, a disaster was averted, and the fight was back on. But even after it was over, the “Glove Gate” controversy (which took a life and a Twitter hashtag of its own) raged on, to the point of prompting both sides to initiate negotiations ahead of time to avert a second coming of this mayhem within the Mayhem.

And both sides did come to an agreement: they would use the exact same gloves as in the first fight, with ample time for them to use similar gloves during training and to print or emblazon whatever colors or symbols they deemed appropriate for the rematch (which in Maidana’s case is the sun that lays at the center of the Argentine flag). All set, then!

Or maybe not.

In an interesting development that went largely unnoticed, a “typo” was found in the original contract indicating that the gloves to be used for this fight were going to weigh 10 ounces instead of 8. Now, as common and understandable as typos may be, I challenge anyone to find a typo indicating that Maidana would get 10 million instead of 8, or whatever he is getting. Or any other typo in any other portion of any contract involving millions of dollars.

A few strokes of a pen and a few initials and signatures here and there, and the contract was adequately amended to fit the requirements of both fighters. And that’s it. We’re ready for fight night!

I say let’s wait a little bit longer.

The first fight, as you may know, was originally billed as a welterweight title bout. This time, by a miracle of one of boxing’s most distinguished purveyors of pointless pieces of memorabilia (you may know them collectively as the World Boxing Council), the fight will have three title belts in TWO different weight divisions: two for the welterweight division (WBA and WBC) and one for the junior middleweight division (WBC, of course).

And this is where it may get tricky.

As you may know, fighters use 8-ounce gloves up to 147 lbs, and they have to start using 10-ounce gloves after that. A few years ago, a controversy erupted when Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito wanted to use 8-ounce gloves for their first fight back in 2008. At that point, the commission approved the use of either 8 or 10 ounce gloves for fights at 140 and 147 lbs, but determined clearly that 10-ounce gloves would have to be used mandatorily in fights above the 147 lb limit.

In the Mayweather-Maidana rematch, with two titles at stake, this situation can potentially get complicated if one of the fighters weighs in as much as an ounce above the 147 lb limit and therefore chooses to fight only for the 154 lb title, in which case the glove size will have to be adjusted at 10 ounces per glove, without any negotiations being possible.

And here, you can’t blame this situation on any typos. According to Mauricio Sulaiman (heir to the WBC throne), both titles will be at stake “as long as both fighters make the 147-pound limit,” which implies that the fighters will have to throw onto the scales exactly 147 pounds of flesh. No more, no less.

No, I am not sure of how this will work either. But fret not: we’re about to find out, and it can get very, very entertaining if Floyd decides to pull the same stunt he pulled on Juan Manuel Marquez, where he used his leverage to drive Marquez down in weight for their bout, only to show up a few pounds heavier and then pay a record-breaking fine that allowed him to carry his extra weight (and energy) into the ring.

Technically, a new rule was created by the Nevada State Athletic Commission demanding that the gloves that both boxers are going to use must be in the hands of the commission three days before the weigh-in. But there is no rule preventing Mayweather from showing up at a trim and ready 147.0001 lbs and unleashing a Mayhem of his own, just for an added measure of entertainment in a pre-fight build-up that has seen very little excitement so far.

Common sense, however, indicates that cooler heads will prevail, and that something will transpire to ensure the realization of this hugely lucrative event. There will be no Everlast Emergency Truck blasting a siren and pulling up at the MGM driveway on live television broadcasted around the world two minutes before fight time (although I’d definitely love to see that!). At the very worst, we will have to see the commission and the promoters scurrying for a solution a mere 20 hours before the actual bout (once again), and we will have yet another crash course on Everlast glove padding and models forced down our throats.

But whatever happens, let’s let this be another warning sign of the many twists and turns that boxers are exposed to, even under such intense scrutiny.

Time will tell whether we will need to regard the glove ceremony as an integral part of the hostilities, and maybe even have it share the denomination of “Round Zero” with the weigh-in itself. We may have to start calling it “The Glove-Off after the Face-Off”, or “the Stare-Down followed by the Mitt-Down.” But in any case, let’s watch it closely. For my money, the PPV broadcast should start at the weigh-in, or else risk missing what looms as the most intriguing fight of the entire weekend.

For this event’s sake, and for boxing’s sake, let’s hope nothing funky happens. But if it does, remember that you read it here first.

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