When Marcos Maidana met Adrien Broner last December in San Antonio, the smart money said the rugged Argentine would be summarily dismissed as "The Problem" continued to stake a claim that he'd ultimately inherit boxing's pound-for-pound throne from incumbent kingpin Floyd Mayweather Jr.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation.
Rather than playing an outgunned second banana, Maidana brutalized Broner for significant portions of their 12-round scrap, wrested away the champion's World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight title and placed himself squarely in the running for a chance to succeed Mayweather without waiting for a voluntary exit.
That chance comes Saturday night in Las Vegas, where Mayweather aims for his third straight win since signing with Showtime and a 46th consecutive victory since turning pro after he won Olympic bronze in Atlanta in 1996.
The oddsmakers don't believe Maidana will provide much of a challenge, as evidenced by the $1,000 wager required to gain just $100 as of Monday afternoon on VegasInsider.com. Meanwhile, a $100 outlay on the underdog would bring back a $650 windfall in the event of an upset.
And for his part, the favorite is insisting Maidana is a force not to be trifled with.
"Adrien Broner's a good boxer and he roughed Adrien Broner up and he got to victory, so we can't say what this guy, what he can or he can't do," Mayweather said in a pre-fight conference call. "We cannot overlook the guy. I can't just say he's going to be an easy fight because he's not going to be an easy fight for me, I don't think so. What I have to do is I've got to make sure that I'm at my best. So May 3 I've got to go out there and take my time, keep my composure and be me. Everybody thinks he's just going to be a pushover, but I don't think so. That's why I'm training hard and I'm pushing myself to the limit every day."
Date: Saturday, May 3, 2014
Time: Showtime pay-per-view starts at 9 p.m. ET; main event after 11 p.m. ET.
Venue: MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada
Odds: Mayweather (-1000), Maidana (+650)
Note: Odds provided by VegasInsider.com and correct as of 4/28/2014 at 5 p.m. ET; subject to change.