Monday Morning Cornermen (April 9 edition)

In this section of The Sweet Science, we step back and take a critical look at the fights that took place on the previous weekend to create a final wrap-up of all the major boxing events. Follow us every Monday at #MMCatTSS and @TSSboxingnews  

Maidana is Still Pitching Cookie Sandwiches – Literally

The scene may have gone unnoticed to many people across the globe, but it did not go unnoticed in Argentina. Back on May 3, 2014, right after his failed title bid against Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, welterweight contender Marcos Maidana opened a small package and pulled out a white, powdery cookie that he proceeded to eat in front of an exaggeratedly bewildered Jim Gray, his interviewer, proudly displaying the blue-and-yellow package in front of the cameras, live for the world to see as he gave his final remarks of the night.

That moment (which, curiously enough, was the culminating point of a card called “The Moment”), became one of the greatest “product placement” events in history for Argentina. The cookie sandwich covered in white frost that Maidana ate (called “alfajor” in his native country) was already among the most popular quick bites available in kiosks and candy stores everywhere. But sales for that particular brand skyrocketed overnight, forcing his owner Nestor Hugo Basilotta to increase production and take orders from countries all around the world and from people trying to get a taste of the miraculous nourishment that brought “Chino” so close to defeating the best fighter on the planet.

In his new life as a boxing promoter, which got its kickstart last Friday, April 6, in the town of Quilmes, Maidana continued pitching the “Guaymallén” brand (still visible in broad yellow patches on the trunks of fighters such as Jesus Cuellar and many others) – and this time, he did it in the most literal possible way. With Basilotta by his side, and with the ring’s corners and turnbuckles exhibiting the yellow Guaymallén patch that he displayed so proudly on his own trunks back in the day, Maidana proceeded to “make it rain” on the live audience, tossing a few dozen “alfajores” into the crowd with the help of his cousin and sidekick “Pileta” Gomez, in what became his first official act as a boxing promoter.

I could write more, but then this entire column would turn into a “product placement” effort instead. We’ll leave that task to Maidana, who will probably take on the job as happily and gratefully as he did it in that historic “moment within a moment” back in 2014.– Diego M. Morilla

Mayweather Is done With boxing, but Not With the Fight Game

He has retired and unretired so many times that it is almost impossible to hold him accountable or to believe his words any longer, and yet he continues putting our credulity (and our patience) to the test. Speaking with Showtime’s Jim Gray during Saturday night’s Hurd-Lara bout, Floyd Mayweather Jr. said that he is considering coming out of retirement to become a mixed martial arts combatant in the near future.

Of course, with Mayweather being the consummate teaser that he is, there had to be a caveat. And that caveat is the fact that his most likely opponent is currently headed to a long stretch in jail, if we’re to believe the accounts of his most recent misdeeds. We’re talking of course about UFC multiple champ Conor McGregor, who is facing all kinds of charges after leading a throng of thugs in an attack on a bus full of other MMA fighters. Allegedly, of course.

Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) famously stopped McGregor, UFC’s biggest star, in the 10th round of their only boxing match back on August 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, in what was McGregor’s debut against boxing’s biggest star and one of its most accomplished practitioners. Mayweather would be happy to flip that equation, of course, as long as the most important equation (the one that ended up with him pocketing the lion’s share of the 4.3 million Pay-Per-View buys for that fight) remains practically unchanged.

True to his moniker, the 41-year-old “Money” Mayweather would only consider a deal that would earn him as much or more than the undisclosed nine-figure amount he received for his boxing bout against McGregor. But for that, he would have to wait for McGregor to unshackle himself from the charges and the possible prison stint that looms in his future.

As for Mayweather, he has unshackled himself from the constraints of his own previous statements so many times that it is now possible to say that every one of his retirements have been mere twists in a plot that keeps producing new characters and situations in an exasperatingly long play that does not have an end in sight. – Diego M. Morilla

Mayorga Trudges On in his Suicidal Quest

Boxing is such a difficult and dangerous sport that hardly anyone should do it without a clear purpose. Sure enough, supporting your family and earning a living are more than valid purposes, but risking your life in each outing has the power to cancel out any good intentions that you may have had going in. That seems to be the case with former champ Ricardo Mayorga, now 45 and still lending his name as a loser du jour against journeymen and rising stars across the globe.

There is no other way to explain his most recent effort (or lack thereof), a stoppage loss in eight rounds against Rodolfo “La Cobrita” Gomez Jr. (13-4-1, 8 KOs) in Laredo, Texas, on Saturday night. At 45, Mayorga (32-11-1, 26 KOs), a notorious party animal who hardly ever trained even for his most demanding bouts and became infamous for drinking beer and smoking cigarettes in the ring during his post-fight interviews, is so woefully out of shape that even his own life is in jeopardy, let alone his already-dead boxing career, when he enters the ring. Mayorga is a tragic story already, and we can only hope that he does not add another dark chapter to it by continuing to fight to the point of risking his life. – Diego M. Morilla

Lara Risked It All Against Hurd, but… Was it Worth the Effort?

Jarrett Hurd promised that a “storm” would hit Erislandy Lara during their April 7 bout at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. And “The American Dream” responded in kind, signaling from the very beginning that he was more than willing to trade leather with a younger, taller and hungrier opponent.

The resulting bout was a pleasant spectacle for the live audience and the thousands following the proceedings through Showtime. The close but fair victory of the still unbeaten “Swift” Hurd (22-0-0, 15 KOs) over Lara (25-3-2, 14 KOs) is already being hailed as one of the best fights of 2018 thanks to the intensity displayed by both fighters. Of course, the style of the fight suited Hurd much better, given his larger physique (a jump to the middleweight division would not be too difficult for the American fighter in the near future), and he engaged in it with gusto. But was this Lara’s best course of action. Obviously not. Lara is a technical fighter, a counterpuncher, a fast and elusive boxer who executes his plan from beginning to end in each fight.

Which leads to an important question: did his handlers tell him to engage Hurd in this fashion, or was it all Lara’s initiative? Did the Cuban fighter choose voluntarily to demonstrate that he can mix it up and come up victorious anyway, neglecting his own established style. The evidence displayed in the figures provided by the judges’ scorecards (Dave Moretti and Glen Feldman gave it to Hurd by 114-113 while Burt Clements had it for Lara in the same numbers) shows that the entire result of the bout hinged on the dramatic final knockdown that came in the final round with only 37 seconds left on the clock. Lara had not been knocked down since 2015, when he dropped to the canvas against Alfredo Angulo, and exhibited a great deal of technical superiority, but Hurd’s consistency and volume punching ended up making the difference.

Lara crossed over to enemy territory and paid the consequences. It is now time to evaluate whether this is the right path going forward for him.  – J.J. Álvarez

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