Floyd Mayweather Jr. has failed to put on a classic fight over the past two years. Perhaps that will change against Marcos Maidana.
Mayweather won comfortably against both Robert Guerrero and Canelo Alvarez in his last two bouts, leaving little drama in the final result.
In general, his defensive style doesn't lend itself to putting on exciting fights. What power he used to have is also gone, leaving little chance that he pulls off a knockout—nor even a knockdown, in many cases.
In Maidana, though, Mayweather has a great foil, as 31 of Maidana's 35 wins have come via knockout. If Money May leaves too big of an opening, El Chino will end things right then and there.
Richard Schaefer, Golden Boy Promotions CEO, spoke about how tough this fight will be for Mayweather, per USA Today's Bob Velin.
"In Marcos Maidana, Floyd Mayweather may be in for his toughest opponent ever," Schaefer said. "Maidana is the type of fighter who will find out if Floyd still belongs on top of the pound-for-pound list. He's strong, tough and aggressive."
While you wouldn't expect a promoter to undersell a fight, what Schaefer said does have some validity. Mayweather is in for a stern test.
In turn, he and Maidana may give fans a major contender for fight of the year. Here's what will need to happen for this fight to earn that title.
Some Drama, Any Drama
In each of Mayweather's last two fights, the outcome was pretty much decided around the eighth round. There wasn't any drama from that point on.
He had gained so large of an advantage that there was almost no way for his opponent to come back. In the first fight, Guerrero simply wasn't anywhere near Mayweather's level. Against Alvarez, Money was back to his elusive best—Canelo couldn't touch him.
Despite his impressive punching power, Maidana acknowledged that he should expect the fight to go the distance, via Lem Satterfield of Ring TV.
"I am preparing to hurt him every time that I throw punches, and if the knockout comes, then great," Maidana said. "But I am preparing myself to win up to 12 rounds."
The challenger needs to stay within striking distance of Mayweather on the cards heading into the 10th, 11th and 12th rounds. Simply put, you can't have a fight of the year when the last three or four rounds are largely meaningless.
As long as things remain close in the later rounds, excitement will remain high throughout the entirety of the fight.
Floyd Mayweather Forced to Go on Offensive
Sports are always more exciting when teams or athletes are thrown out of their comfort zone and forced to make alterations.
Mayweather is exceptional when it comes to adapting mid-fight. You can tell that in the first three or four rounds, he opens himself up a little more in order take his opponent's best stuff but not enough to get knocked out. Once he survives the fourth round, he knows exactly how to fight.
Nobody needs to confuse Mayweather with Thomas Hearns on Saturday night. Money knows that getting into a slugfest with Maidana is a fool's errand.
But it would be nice if he never settles into his comfort zone and is forced to chase the fight a bit. Fans have grown accustomed to seeing his strategic defense and surgical counterpunching. Watching Money fight more aggressively will stir the pot.
Marcos Maidana Sends Floyd Mayweather to the Canvas
What would be more exhilarating than Mayweather getting knocked down to the canvas? The only real knockdown he's suffered was against Carlos Hernandez back in 2001.
It would make sense that as Mayweather ages and his skills diminish the chances of him getting dropped would increase. Even the best fighters can't be great forever. And Maidana has the punching power to make it happen.
If Mayweather does get knocked down, it would change the entire narrative of the fight. From there on out, anything would be possible. It's like that moment in Rocky IV when Rocky Balboa makes Ivan Drago bleed: the unbeatable monster finally shows some vulnerability.
Maybe Maidana wins. Maybe Mayweather gets knocked out. No one knows for sure, but that anticipation adds to the drama and is what will send the MGM crowd into a complete frenzy.