politics, the power of incumbency provides significant advantages for the
current officeholder or ruling party. In the U.S., congressmen get free
franking (mailing) privileges for official business. They have access to
sensitive information and special interest groups that outsiders do not.
Fundraisers backed by powerful lobbies and well-heeled donors ensure that
elected officials amass significant war chests for future campaigns, often
before challengers even emerge. Officeholders can generate free media publicity
throughout their terms, appearing at public events and on television, hosting
town halls, and releasing official statements – all of which better connect
them with their constituents. Gerrymandering (the drawing of legislative
districts) helps make it easier for members of the U.S. House of
Representatives and state legislators to win election after election.
Incumbents can limit the number of official debates with political foes,
reducing opportunities for an opponent to gain exposure. It's not that
challengers never win, but the political system is rigged against them.
boxing isn't merely politics. A fighter must beat the other in the ring. All
the power, influence and special interests lined up behind a big star cease to
matter if the boxer is knocked out into another galaxy.
political factors certainly can help a fighter in a match. Where will the fight
take place, home or on the road? How big is the ring? Who are the officials? All
of these deal points can help or hinder a fighter – the more power that a boxer
commands in the sport, the more that these factors are negotiated by his
management to create an advantage. And for Floyd Mayweather, boxing's
number-one star, these negotiations can lead to significant advantages. By
generating the most money in the sport, Floyd is always in the position to
dictate terms to his opponents.
by the strongest management in the business and a television network owned by an enormous media conglomerate, Mayweather has a power of incumbency in
boxing that is unrivaled. His influence in his home jurisdiction of Nevada has
delayed prison sentences and curried favor with the state athletic commission.
Turn in a bad card against him and a boxing judge will lose her job (which
never happens in the sport). He'll pick the gloves, the size of the ring, an
opponent's financial split and how and when fights will officially be promoted.
Team Mayweather will lobby successfully for the assignment/removal of specific
referees and judges for his bouts.
money and power behind Mayweather directly help him win fights. Somehow his
team convinced the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) to ban Marcos
Maidana's custom-made Everlast MX gloves (which favors power punchers) before
their first fight in May. For the rematch, Maidana again had to wear Everlast
Powerlock gloves (a more neutral model). And the ring looked enormous on
Saturday. Although I didn't see an official measurement, from TV it seemed to be
larger than the 20-ft. standard, which helps a boxer like Mayweather, who relies
Team Mayweather's most successful lobbying effort for the rematch was the
NSAC's assignment of Kenny Bayless as the referee. In the first
Mayweather-Maidana fight, the referee was Tony Weeks, who is known for being
laissez-faire. He'll let fighters work on the inside and isn't necessarily keen
on deducting points. His style of officiating helped Maidana, who was
successful in the trenches at many point of the fight. Using a mauling style
and a free hand to hit Mayweather with right hands and left hooks, he gave
Floyd a very tough – and rough – fight.
Mayweather voiced its displeasure with Weeks' performance in the bout,
castigating the ref for permitting an MMA-like atmosphere within the ring.
Mayweather's side constantly worked the media about Maidana's roughhouse
tactics. Even though Team Mayweather had won the fight, these public
exclamations were designed to affect future proceedings; and they certainly
Saturday's rematch, Kenny Bayless broke up the action at the first sign of a
clinch, often when one of the fighters – almost always Maidana – had a free
hand and could still do work. Bayless' actions helped to change the
tenor of the rematch significantly. With fewer opportunities on the inside, Maidana had to
spend more time at range, where he is far less effective. In addition, Bayless
took an unnecessary point away from Maidana for low blows.
the deck was certainly stacked against Maidana for the rematch, with Team Mayweather winning the Fight
Before the Fight. But both boxers still needed to perform in the ring and Maidana just didn't do enough to win. His punch volume was significantly lower than it was in the
first match and he lacked his customary ferocity. With the action mostly in the
center of the ring, Floyd landed the better shots, used his defense and legs to
avoid prolonged skirmishes and was very sharp with power counters. It was
the typical late-period Mayweather performance.
essence, Floyd fought on Saturday the way that he should have done in May:
avoiding the ropes and inside exchanges, tying up whenever possible and using
the ring to his advantage. Without a target directly in front of him, Maidana
often looked feckless. However, when Mayweather stood in front of Maidana for
brief periods on the ropes, he got hit hard. Mayweather used his athleticism
against Maidana because he had to; he needed to minimize a war at all costs. At
the end of the match, Mayweather won a unanimous decision with scores of 116-111
(x2) and 115-112 (I had it for Mayweather 118-109).
was a pedestrian fight, with the lone exception being an incident in the eighth
round where Maidana appeared to bite Mayweather's left hand during a clinch.
Interestingly, Bayless deducted no points for this foul, or for Mayweather
using his forearm to hold down Maidana's head during the clinch.
the night was unsatisfying. With a terrible undercard that featured cynical
matchmaking, unworthy challengers, little action and an egregious scorecard
that smacked of incompetence or corruption (more on that later), boxing did not
shine on Saturday. The pay per view card was another reminder to boxing fans of
how their fandom can often resemble masochism. There was "Mayhem" on
Saturday, but only in an internal sense, with boxing fans beating themselves up
about why they paid $75 for such mediocre entertainment. The one saving grace of
the evening was the gallows humor found on social media, but that can only stave
off fans' self-flagellation for so long.
a final note, judge Robert Hoyle's 119-109 scorecard in favor of Mickey Bey
over Miguel Vazquez in one of the undercard fights was the single-worst scorecard
that I have seen since Dr. James Jen-Kin's 120-106 tally for Abner Mares against
Anselmo Moreno in 2012. Vazquez-Bey was a lightweight title fight. Bey, who
fights out of the Mayweather gym in Las Vegas and was an undeserving challenger,
did very little in the first nine
rounds of the fight. Bewildered by Vazquez's herky-jerky rhythms and movement,
Bey landed hardly anything of substance throughout most of the fight. Yes, the
match was awful to watch but it was thoroughly impossible to give Bey 11 rounds
of the bout legitimately. I scored it 116-112 for Vazquez and most observers
had Vazquez winning a close fight.
who is from Las Vegas, has a significant bias in favor of Las Vegas-based
fighters. His 116-111 scorecard in favor of hometown challenger Diego Magdaleno
against Roman Martinez was egregious (Martinez won the decision) and his
117-111 card for Jessie Vargas (another Vegas-based boxer) over Khabib
Allakhverdiev was far too generous to the local fighter.
performance on Saturday was worse than C.J. Ross' draw card for
Mayweather-Alvarez (Ross was the aforementioned judge who lost her job after
turning in a terrible score for a Mayweather fight). However, Vazquez doesn't have Mayweather's
political juice behind him. Senators and state officials
won't be calling the NSAC demanding action. In all likelihood, Hoyle will face no repercussions for his malfeasance. If there were any equity in boxing,
Hoyle would never work again. But this is no time for fantasy. In truth, wagons
will be circled. Political in-fighters will continue to in-fight. The train
will keep on a-rollin'. It makes me want to scream.