Expect blood and guts, because there is a chance that Floyd Mayweather’s latest exhibition of boxing will have long overdue moments of real drama inside the MGM ring in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Mayweather will be defending his WBC welterweight belt, is unbeaten in 45 fights, a world champion at five weights and he has not broken a sweat in the ring during his last few fights, which have swollen his bank account by in excess of $100m (£59.3m). Mayweather, 37, had made the art of boxing look too easy against a succession of good fighters, and in theory Marcos Maidana of Argentina, Saturday’s victim, should join the list of the beaten without staining Mayweather’s diamond-encrusted leather shorts with any blood.
However, Maidana is not the flat-footed, slow and predictable winner of a lottery ticket to fight Mayweather – which is how the American’s opponents are portrayed – that most people seem convinced that he is. Maidana enters the ring as the WBA’s welterweight champion, having ruined Mayweather clone Adrien Broner last December in a big shock; Broner was unbeaten in 28 fights before Maidana but was ruthlessly beaten, dropped twice and sent from the ring in total embarrassment.
Broner is not Mayweather, that is for sure, but his style is identical and Maidana on the night simply tore through Broner’s defence and defensive moves, all of which were from Mayweather’s negative arsenal, and kept throwing punches. Maidana also, and crucially, moved his feet before letting his punches go and simply refused to be goaded by Broner’s antics.
“There is no blueprint to beat me, no way to crack the code,” said Mayweather. “Forget the Broner fight; if Maidana thinks that he is going to win by rushing in wild then he will get a beating.” It seems to be a risk that Maidana is prepared to take – in fairness, no one has tried it since Ricky Hatton in 2007 and that remains one of Mayweather’s most difficult and finest wins.
“I’m not happy with the role I have been given,” said Maidana. “I’m not here to take the money and make excuses. I think Mayweather knows that and he knows that I refuse to listen to his shit.”
Mayweather will have to adapt and he will adapt to Maidana’s straight right, which will connect and could hurt him before a performance similar to the Hatton night tames Maidana. There is every chance that cuts and the referee warning Maidana for illegal activity could also be a factor in the outcome; it’s a Mayweather fight and that means people watch to find out what all the fuss is about. I have a feeling that they will not be disappointed watching the money-obsessed pugilist make another $50m.
Amir Khan’s future will have been decided on the MGM undercard by the time Mayweather takes to the ring and there is every chance that once again Khan will make people suffer. Khan has to beat Luis Collazo, one of the sport’s truly avoided fighters, and he will be forced to perform the full repertoire of his ring strengths and weaknesses; in hard fights Khan gets hurt, hurts his opponent and after a dozen Rocky moments somebody wins.
“I know I have made fights hard and that is one of the things I have been working on in the gym,” said Khan. “I have to be a different boxer now and I will be.” Khan sounds like he believes it, which is good.
Khan can make what is the most difficult and important fight of his career easy if he listens to his new trainer Virgil Hunter in his corner, follows simple instructions and refuses to respond to his heart if he is caught. Collazo loses to good fighters and he has been avoided for long spells, but Khan’s speed and his comfort at the increased welterweight poundage will be crucial.