With an unblemished career record of 45-0, Floyd Mayweather enters his May 3 tilt against Marcos Maidana as a huge favorite, but he must be wary of his underrated opponent.
Although Maidana doesn't have the name recognition or drawing power of a boxer like Manny Pacquiao, there is no question that he is determined to push Mayweather to the limit. Even if Maidana executes a perfect game plan, though, beating Mayweather will be extremely difficult provided he does what has made him so successful over the years.
Here are the biggest keys that Mayweather must follow in order to get past Maidana in one of 2014's biggest fights.
Stay True to His Style
It is no secret that Mayweather doesn't always deliver the most entertaining fights, but he constantly finds a way to win. Money is one of the most frustrating boxers of all time as far as his opponents are concerned, as his quickness, speed and incredible defensive acumen make him nearly impossible to hit with an consistency. Add in opportune counter-punching and deceptive power, and Mayweather is the total package.
Mayweather is better than anyone at establishing his style and sticking with it. While his opponents have attempted to throw him off his game in many different ways over the years, nothing has worked. Of Maidana's 35 wins, 31 of them have come by way of knockout. That type of power is quite rare, and it is something that Maidana will certainly have to account for.
According to LaceUpBoxing.com, Maidana intends to use that to his advantage and put as much pressure as he possibly can on Mayweather.
This is going to be a great fight that fans will not want to miss. They know my style is to come forward. They know I like to be the aggressor. They know I throw heavy punches that can seriously hurt my opponent. My fans know I am going to give it my all, my absolute best. I am excited and very confident. I am ready for May 3 and I'm ready for Floyd Mayweather.
Maidana's aggressiveness could plant a seed in Mayweather's mind that might entice him to brawl and come forward a bit more than he normally would. That would be playing right into Maidana's hands, though, and it would help his chances significantly.
Mayweather's style has worked to perfection for his entire professional career, and he can't let himself get goaded out of it.
Be Wary of Maidana's Power
Mayweather's ability to avoid getting hit may be his biggest asset, but his chin is quite underrated. It is inevitable that Mayweather is going to have to absorb some shots when he steps into the ring, and he has proven to be impossible to knock out thus far. Mayweather has certainly faced some powerful boxers in the past, but Maidana may be at a totally different level.
It may very well take a powerful combination in order to put Mayweather on the mat, but Maidana has one-punch power. Some excellent fighters have succumbed to single punches in the past, and Mayweather isn't necessarily immune to joining that list.
Despite Maidana's power and ability to potentially knock Mayweather out, Maidana's trainer, Robert Garcia, said that their game plan is much deeper than that, per LaceUpBoxing.com.
Styles make fights. One punch can change everything. I don't think Mayweather has been hit as hard as Maidana will hit him. But we aren't looking for a knockout. We don't want to just rely on maybe a lucky punch. Maidana is preparing to win all 12 rounds, and dominate.
A common issue with Mayweather's opponents is that they seemingly get disheartened when they can't break through Mayweather's defense, which leads to them becoming passive. That has never been an issue for Maidana, and FightNights.com doesn't see Maidana falling into that trap:
I do believe Maidana will succeed where Canelo and Guerrero failed, and that is he will lay it all on the line and go for it.— FightNights.com™ (@boxing) April 20, 2014
Since Maidana will almost certainly continue to push forward and throw the kitchen sink at Mayweather, the possibility of a knockout exists. Mayweather can't be so conservative to the point that he allows Maidana to dictate the fight, but he has to have the knockout power in the back of his mind.
Don't Look Ahead
When it comes to Mayweather, it is always about the next fight. Most observers usually assume that Mayweather is going to come out on top since he has done exactly that at every turn in the past. Everyone wants to know who Mayweather will face after Maidana, and if Mayweather falls into that same trap, he could be ripe for an upset.
What is the biggest key to Mayweather beating Maidana?
Mayweather has done an excellent job of living in the moment during his career, so this is an issue that he should be able to handle. With that said, it isn't easy to block out the chatter. It isn't outside the realm of possibility that Mayweather could buy into his own hype and overlook Maidana, but Mayweather seems extremely focused on the task at hand, per David Mayo of MLive.com.
"I try to focus on just Floyd," Mayweather said. "I don't try to focus on nobody else. I feel people tend to stumble, trip and make a lot of mistakes when they tend to worry about other things instead of focusing on themselves."
That tunnel vision will serve Mayweather well, especially against a determined opponent like Maidana. There may be no fighter in boxing with more mental strength than Mayweather, so he should be able to hold it together.
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