After almost 20 years of unblemished boxing perfection, Floyd Mayweather (45-0-0, 26 KO) will once again go toe-to-toe with one of the toughest fighters in the world. This time it will be Marcos Maidana (35-3-0, 31 KO) on Saturday, May 3 in Las Vegas.
While Mayweather was one of the most dangerous strikers in the entire sport during the first decade of his career, Father Time has caught up with the 37-year-old champion and forced him to alter his approach to boxing.
Instead of pushing the tempo like he once did, Mayweather is all about letting his defense open up his offensive chances.
There have been constant questions about Mayweather ducking Manny Pacquiao and other big-name fighters, but the American star is doing what he and his team feel is best for his career. Just as Mayweather has been protecting his career while choosing his opponents, he is doing the same in the ring when he allows his challenger to dictate the tempo of the fight early.
Mayweather respects the talent that Maidana possesses, but, as he told Mike Dawes of the Daily Mail, the undefeated champion has supreme confidence in his approach to the fight and his ability to come out victorious:
Maidana deserves the opportunity. He’s a champion with an 80 per cent knockout ratio, but everything isn’t about speed. Everything in boxing and life is about timing. I’m a fighter that likes to take my time and be smart. Some fighters like to be reckless. You see what happens when fighters are reckless.
Boxing is like chess. Every move has to be thought about before you make it. I like to study my opponents first. I’m not going to do a lot of moving when I get in the ring. I’m coming straight ahead.
While Mayweather would be the first one to tell you how great he really is, actor John Cusack defended the fighter on Twitter and heaped heavy praise on him:
floyd mayweather makes his championship fights look like a sparring session- best defensive fighter that ever lived- maybe.— John Cusack (@johncusack) September 15, 2013
David Kano of MMA Show News agrees about Mayweather being the defensive fighter, but won’t go any further than that:
Mayweather best defensive and smartest boxer ever, but not greatest.— David Kano (@TheDKano) September 15, 2013
Maidana is going to come out swinging in this fight. He knows that Mayweather has the ability to go all 12 rounds, and the Argentinean star has been training to throw heavy shots through each and every round.
Mayweather’s endurance is unquestionable, but Maidana has the elite conditioning to not fade as the fight progresses. Like Mayweather, Maidana gets stronger as the main event drags into the latter rounds.
In this fight more than ever, Mayweather will have to be ready for the offensive onslaught from the challenger. Every man that has stepped into the ring with him over the last five years has been looking to break his undefeated streak, and Money has learned to roll with the punches and avoid big shots.
Maidana loves landing heavy strikes in sequence, but he is wild and can leave openings of his own. While Mayweather still has plenty of speed in his head and feet to avoid Maidana’s biggest power punches, the key will be how well he lands his own counterpunches.
Who ya got?
After 31 knockouts, Maidana knows how to get inside on a fighter and do serious damage, but he has been guilty of making mistakes and leaving big openings. Mayweather doesn’t miss when presented an opportunity, and he can do serious damage even when he is on his heels.
As long as Mayweather continues to stay on the defensive early in the fight and uses his elite evasive moves, Maidana will get frustrated and wear himself down while trying to get through the champion's defensive game plan.
With no judge willing to score against Mayweather in a close fight, he will remain undefeated via unanimous decision.
*Stats via BoxRec.com.