By Tim Smith
It didn’t take Floyd Mayweather and his reps too long to determine that there was something wrong with the boxing gloves that Marcos Maidana had presented to the Nevada State Athletic Commission as the ones that he wanted to wear for their match at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas last May 3.
“In my opinion some padding had been removed. There was no padding in the gloves. And they weren’t in shrink wrap. They had been opened,’’ said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions.
(Relieve the tense debate over the gloves in question with the following scene from All Access: Mayweather vs. Maidana: Epilogue)
Not since the infamous O.J. Simpson trial has a pair of gloves figured so prominently in the proceedings of a major event. Ellerbe said Mayweather was ready to call the whole thing off and walk away from a multi-million payday if Maidana insisted on wearing the blue Everlast MX gloves that had been emblazoned with the Argentine flag. The issue, which flared up at the weigh in the day before the fight, was finally settled as Maidana agreed to wear the same brand of glove, but not the same pair that he had designated for the match.
As Mayweather and Maidana prepare to square off again the “gloves issue’’ hovers over the rematch of the 12-round WBC welterweight title match at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Showtime Pay Per View on Sept. 13.
Maidana will wear Everlast Powerlock gloves for the rematch. Unlike the Everlast MX gloves that he wore the first time, which contained horse hair as padding, the Everlast Powerlock gloves have foam padding.
On the Everlast website the gloves are said to be designed with “anatomical foam construction that guides your hand into a natural fist position’’ and are described as having a compact design that allows for “superior fist closure, providing a balance of speed, comfort and protection while delivering a powerful punch.’’ There is a video of super middleweight champion Andre Ward wearing the gloves while slugging a heavy bag.
Ellerbe and Sebastian Contursi, Maidana’s manager, said they worked out the gloves issue during contract negotiations for the rematch.
Contursi said the gloves issue was something manufactured by Mayweather and his team to try to gain a psychological advantage on the eve of the biggest boxing match of Maidana’s career.
“Now that I go back and think about it Floyd Mayweather had it all premeditated. That’s my impression now,’’ Contursi said. “We never inspected the gloves. We just agreed that each fighter would be able to use their own brand of gloves. We had gloves that were approved by every commission where he’s fought. Marcos had used the same Everlast Mexican (MX) gloves for three years and we never had a problem. Floyd was the guy making noise. It was a big lie.’’
Ellerbe said there was no such ploy in play. He believes the gloves were defective and posed a danger to Mayweather’s health and safety in the ring if Maidana had been allowed to wear them during the fight. Ellerbe said Maidana’s side was playing fast and loose with the rules, because Maidana didn’t even show up at the meeting to even try on the gloves in question.
“Maidana hadn’t been there to try on the glove. He had already tried them on,’’ Ellerbe said. “What fighter doesn’t want to be there to try on the gloves to make sure he’s comfortable with them? What fighter at this level is going to allow his trainer to select the gloves without him being there to try them on?’’
Contursi said once they decided what type of gloves they were going to use and the decoration they wanted on them, they sent the specs to the manufacturer in Mexico. Once the gloves were produced (six to 10 pair) they were shipped from Mexico directly to the commission. He said the gloves never touched their hands once they left the factory in Mexico. So they couldn’t tamper with them. Any flaws in the gloves would have been from the factory.
The same process is being repeated for the Everlast Powerlock gloves that Maidana will use for the rematch. But this time Maidana is using the gloves in sparring so that he will be familiar with them and comfortable in them on fight night.
Robert Bennett, Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director, instituted a new rule following the gloves controversy between Mayweather and Maidana. The gloves that both boxers are going to use have to be in the possession of the commission three days before the weighin. Previously the gloves could be brought to the weigin and tried on there.
Elvis Grant, the owner of Grant Gloves, which Mayweather uses, applauds Bennett for instituting the rule.
“They can inspect them and if there are any issues at all they can be resolved before the weighin,’’ Grant said. “I think that’s a fantastic new rule. I think it’s going to be a good thing.’’
Grant has been making gloves for Mayweather since the boxer fought Carlos Baldomir in 2006. He said Mayweather, who has always had problems with his hands, gained greater confidence wearing his gloves after he knocked out Ricky Hatton.
“He was able to throw a full force punch. He did that early. He threw a right hand or a left hook early in the fight. He winched in anticipation of the pain, but later he told me he didn’t feel any pain. That confidence just rose in him. He knocked Hatton out. Ever since then we’ve had few issues since we started,’’ he said.
Grant was present at the weigh in during the gloves controversy this past May. He concurs with Ellerbe that there was something wrong with the gloves that Maidana presented to the commission.
“The issue that Leonard Ellerbe and John Hornewer (Mayweather’s lawyer) had was that the gloves they (Maidana’s reps) had at the weigh in were wrapped in Saran wrap like you’d wrap a piece of chicken in,’’ Grant said. “When they tried on the gloves themselves they noticed the gloves didn’t seem to have any padding in them.’’
Maidana made light of the gloves issue during the pre-fight promotional tour. Maidana’s trainer Robert Garcia presented two large overstuffed pair of boxing gloves that resembled pillows at a stop in Los Angeles. He joked that Maidana would use those gloves in the match if Mayweather was so concerned about safety.
But the gloves a boxer uses during a match are no joking matter.
Luis Resto was accused of using gloves with an ounce of the padding removed in his match against Billy Collins, Jr. at Madison Square Garden in 1983. Resto, who was banned from boxing, said he didn’t know what was going on. His trainer, Panama Lewis, was accused of removing the padding. Collins took a severe beating, suffering damage to his eye and permanent blurred vision. Lewis, who was banned from boxing, went to prison for tampering with the gloves and served three years. Collins was killed in a car accident near his home in Tennessee a year after the match. Some speculate that he committed suicide because he was depressed about not being able to box anymore.
Grant said the type of gloves a boxer uses is about comfort and psychology. Some boxers believe that a certain type of glove gives them greater punching power. He believes that’s a fallacy.
“Mike Tyson was knocking everybody out with the old style Everlast gloves, which were like pillows,’’ Grant said. “He didn’t have trouble knocking guys out or breaking a guy’s jaw. If you can punch, you can punch in any gloves.’’
Paulie Malignaggi, a former welterweight and junior welterweight champion and Showtime boxing analyst, said it was always important for him to be able to wear the brand and style of gloves that he wanted.
“I had a lot of hand problems. I wanted to wear the brands that would protect my hands,’’ he said.
During his career Malignaggi wanted to wear Cleto-Reyes gloves, which are smaller and noted as puncher’s gloves. But they hurt his hands. He said he was always jealous of other boxers who were able to wear them.
“You could fit the gloves between a tight guard because the gloves were small. But I knew that they would destroy my hands,’’ he said.
Malignaggi noted that the commissions have taken the safety issue into consideration by governing the weight of the gloves for each weight class. Therefore most of the risk has been taken out of the process. Unless the gloves have been tampered with, then most gloves controversy is nothing more than posturing.
“It’s two gladiators in there fighting, everybody is going to try to get an edge,’’ Malignaggi said. “At the end of the day you’re a fighter and you’re going to have to take certain risk. I do believe that each fighter should be able to wear the gloves that he’s comfortable with.’’