When boxing fans turn their televisions on Saturday night in preparation for the Floyd Mayweather (45-0-0, 26 KO) vs. Marcos Maidana (35-3-0, 31 KO) fight in Las Vegas, the common expectation will be a dominant performance from the undefeated champion.
There is no questioning the raw talent and power of Maidana—he has knocked out 31 of the 35 men that he beat over his career—but a matchup against a fighter the caliber of Mayweather will be the toughest test of his career.
Here are the most important skills for each man heading into the pay-per-view main event.
Mayweather’s Most Important Skill: Defense
When talking about Floyd Mayweather’s strengths as a boxer, there are many, but none compare to his ability to fight defensively. Mayweather may not be the greatest fighter of all time, but he is one of the best defensive fighters in the history of the sport.
Using his unique mix of foot speed, head movement and hand-eye coordination, Mayweather can block or dodge almost every punch thrown his way. While many have tried to break through his defense, none have been successful thus far.
Even MMA fighter Derek Brunson is enamored by Mayweather’s defense:
A good defense breeds a good offense as well.
Mayweather is also one of the best counterpunchers in the world and uses his speed to duck out of the way of his challengers and gain the angle before landing one of his own devastating punches.
The defensive mindset also forces the challenger to push the tempo of the fight and eventually wears him down over the course of a 12-round battle. With Mayweather conserving energy and avoiding damage, he can shine brightest in the later rounds and secure a decision win.
Maidana’s Most Important Skill: Power Punches
Many fighters have stepped into the ring with Mayweather and shrunk on the big stage, but that is not what Marcos Maidana will do on Saturday night.
With confidence in his ability, Maidana will come out fast and attempt to land his heavy punches on Mayweather early. There is no discounting Mayweather’s defense, but if Maidana is accurate, he can do serious damage with just one punch.
Maidana spoke with Showtime, via BoxingScene.com, about Mayweather’s strengths and what his game plan is to counteract the challenger’s impenetrable defense:
I’m very happy to see this crowd here cheering me on. There is no doubt this is going to be a very difficult fight against Floyd Mayweather, but I am very prepared for this fight. There is no doubt that Floyd Mayweather has a great defense, but I have a great attack and that is what I will use. I need to do the same thing that I did with (previously unbeaten Adrien) Broner. I need to go out from the get-go and attack him. I know it will be more difficult with Floyd Mayweather but I am ready.
The key in preparation for this fight has been building Maidana’s conditioning and endurance over the 12 rounds. The Argentinean fighter has worked on sustaining his powerful punches throughout the bout and could stun Mayweather with his unwavering punches.
Fans will have to see Maidana do damage to the typically impervious Mayweather before believing he can win, but if there was ever a fighter with the power in his hands to stun Money, it's Maidana.
Prediction: Mayweather via Unanimous Decision
While there is no questioning the raw power and strength Maidana possesses in his hands, his lack of consistency landing his heavy shots is a major issue against one of the greatest defensive fighters of all time.
Maidana has to hit Mayweather to hurt him, and that will be a serious issue for the challenger.
Mayweather still has the elite speed in his hands and his feet to keep Maidana off balance throughout this fight. Add in Money’s ability to bob and weave with the best in history, and Maidana will struggle all night to land clean shots.
The undefeated champion will add another victory to his record.
*Stats via BoxRec.com.