Floyd Mayweather looks to keep his unblemished record intact against the powerful Marcos Maidana. Although it's not the high-profile matchup many boxing fans were hoping for after "Money" defeated Saul Alvarez, it should be an entertaining encounter nonetheless.
The biggest question heading into the bout is whether the underdog can build off some of the success Alvarez flashed. Even though the Mexican sensation fell short in a majority decision, he was able to at least put some pressure on Mayweather for stretches during the fight.
Make no mistake, it would be a massive upset if Maidana was able to come out on top. But Alvarez at least made the undefeated American look human, and that should provide some added confidence for the Argentine as he faces his toughest challenge to date.
Fight Odds (via Odds Shark on Friday, May 2 at 2:15 p.m. ET)
Maidana (+600), Mayweather Jr. (-1000)
Mayweather has faced every type of fighter during his 45-fight winning streak, from heavy hitters to strong defenders and everything in between. The reason he still doesn't have a loss is his ability to adapt and thrive regardless of his opponent's approach.
Maidana falls on the heavy-hitting end of the spectrum. He sports a 35-3 career record with 31 of those victories coming by way of knockout. He has proven efficiency at attacking the body to wear foes down before pushing the pace to score the KO.
Although Maidana doesn't bring the same type of name recognition as Alvarez or some of Mayweather's other previous opponents, boxing's current pound-for-pound king knows he presents a unique challenge. He explained that in comments passed along by Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
Marcos Maidana's last performance immediately brought him to my attention. He is an extremely skilled fighter who brings knockout danger to the ring. I think this is a great fight for me and he deserves the opportunity to see if he can do what 45 others have tried to do before him: beat me.
The performance Mayweather is referencing is Maidana's extremely impressive upset win over Adrien Broner. He put together perhaps the strongest overall showing of his career to earn the unanimous decision and a spot opposite Mayweather.
Now, the question is whether he'll be able to make an even bigger name for himself by seriously challenging or even beating Mayweather. The oddsmakers clearly don't see that as much of a possibility based on the odds.
Capital Boxing thinks Maidana is being underestimated, though:
I don't think Marcos Maidana is Floyd Mayweather's toughest opponent but I do feel like people are underestimating Maidana.— Capital Boxing (@CapitalBoxing) April 14, 2014
The biggest key for Maidana is fighting smart. The urge will be to come out aggressive trying to score the early knockout, but Mayweather is an elite defender and has seen opponents come out flying only to wear themselves out within a few rounds.
While Maidana has the power to make the fight interesting, he must use it wisely. He must keep the fight at a moderate pace early because he doesn't have the quickness to keep up with Mayweather, and the chances of landing that early haymaker are slim to none.
Who's your pick?
If he can ease into the fight, staying within striking distance on the scorecards even if Mayweather grabs the lead, things could open up in the middle rounds. That's when he should start using his power because the five-division world champion will be looking to put him away.
It's easier said than done, of course. Mayweather has won five of his last six fights by decision. He knows how to control a fight even when he's not going all-in for a knockout, which makes it tougher for a powerful fighter like Maidana to capitalize on that knockout ability.
Ultimately, Maidana certainly poses a risk to Mayweather, but he's a major underdog for a reason. Mayweather is the far more complete fighter and has shown no signs of slowing down at age 37. He'll be up to the task again.
Prediction: Mayweather by unanimous decision