AMERICAN Floyd Mayweather Jr. is never shy to remind everyone that he is the best fighter in the planet today, but dare him to take on the best adversary available to backstop such claim and he instantly recoils, his head shrinking like a turtle’s head retreating to his shell.
Argentina’s Marcos ‘El Chino’ Maidana is supposedly the product of a survey launched to determine the most deserving opponent for Mayweather. But there was really no need for any survey as boxing fans have long been pulling for a showdown pitting Mayweather against Filipino Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather launched the self-serving survey just to find some ways to justify the choice of Maidana as his next foe. Predictably, boxing fans called for a boycott the moment the fight was announced.
On Sunday (Manila time), at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, Mayweather will take on Maidana in a 12-round bout for the combined World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight (147 pounds) championship. Mayweather, the WBC champ, is the overwhelming pick to prevail, with many expecting him to clinically pick apart the one-dimensional WBA champ Maidana.
Maidana, 35-3 with 31 knockouts, is a crude slugger cut in the mould of a young Pacquiao. The 30-year-old WBA titlist fights like a wayward truck; he comes barging in and does not honor any traffic signal. He can punch and is tough as nails, but he is also excruciatingly slow and offers a defense that has as much holes as the ozone layer. A professional since 2004, Maidana burst into the consciousness of boxing fans in June 2009, when he pulverized American 'Vicious' Victor Ortiz in six rounds to win the interim WBA junior welterweight (140 pounds) title. In December 2010, Maidana lost to Briton Amir Khan on points, but not after he nearly floored the latter with a spirited effort at the tailend of their brawl.
Maidana has won his last four fights going into the Mayweather fight, including a huge decision over the previously undefeated Adrien Broner in December 2013 for the WBA welterweight diadem. Broner, who fights like Mayweather, crumbled from Maidana’s intense assaults and punching power. American Broner kissed the canvas twice en route to dropping a lopsided decision.
Broner, of course, is really nothing more than a poor man’s version of Mayweather. Mayweather (45-0, 26 knockouts) is in a different plateau in terms of skills and mental toughness, two barriers Maidana may find difficult to overcome. To his credit, Maidana is ready to let his fists fly, knowing fully well that that he only has a puncher’s chance.
Mayweather is expected to tame Maidana in the same way he handled the smaller Ricky ‘Hitman’ Hatton back in 2007. British slugger Hatton came out like a house on fire and wobbled Mayweather early on, but a patient Mayweather took his time and steadily beat up his foe. In the 10th round, a fatigued and badly-outsmarted Hatton fell like a log.
Mayweather is guaranteed to receive at least US$32 million for the Maidana fight, an amount that he will be hard-pressed to get the next time out if he gets past Maidana. Boxing fans have grown tired of Mayweather’s antics and are already demanding, not asking, the American to man up and face Pacquiao. Khan, who is taking on New Yorker Luis Collazo in the undercard, is already being groomed as the fighter next in line for Mayweather, and many are already cringing at the thought of such a matchup. Believe it or not, Queen Elizabeth offers a sturdier jaw than Briton Khan, who has been miserably knocked out by Danny Garcia and Breidis Prescott.
And so the Mayweather carousel continues, only his act is wearing thin.