Floyd Mayweather turned fame and fortune into a given a long time ago. The only thing he really needs to maintain is his perfect record.
Perfection is his calling card. It's the first thing you associate with his career, whether you're a sweet-science aficionado who can rattle off the alphabet soup of boxing organization titles he has won or a casual fan who only perks up at the sight of Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao on a fight card.
Anything short of perfection would be a failure for him and a blight on his career, even if it doesn't mean he's any less of a boxer.
Mayweather's upcoming fight against Marcos Maidana is the third fight of a six-bout deal with Showtime. He's 45-0, and should he win each fight in his deal, it would take him to 49 total wins, tying him with the undefeated Rocky Marciano.
Mayweather recently described his views on the pursuit of perfection, according to David Mayo of MLive.com.
"I strive for perfection," Mayweather said. "I know I'm not perfect but I strive for perfection. I know I make a lot of mistakes. I don't know it all. I know a lot but I don't know it all."
Some might consider the manner of his victory against Victor Ortiz in 2011 a mistake.
After Ortiz headbutted Mayweather in frustration, Mayweather dropped Ortiz—who had his gloves down and was looking away—with two rapid punches right after the break to return to action and won the fight by knockout (2:58 mark of the video).
At the time, Ryan Maquinana of BoxingScene.com described the implications. Via Lem Satterfield of Ring TV:
But in the whole grand scheme of things, I felt that Floyd kind of robbed himself of a chance to really silence his detractors and show how great he really is inside that ring. Instead of leaving no doubt by dominating Ortiz without controversy, Floyd opened himself up for criticism and debate from the general public on whether or not what he did was ethical.
That incident has been absorbed by the continued perfection from Mayweather, but a loss to Maidana might re-open the debate and give some the opportunity to further question Mayweather's character and credentials.
A Money Mayweather loss would also open him up to criticisms of his personality. Tim Bradley, a fellow standout boxer, has commented on Mayweather's antics in the past.
Mayweather's attitude would be a lot easier to pick apart for some if he failed in his pursuit of perfection.
A loss against Maidana could also diminish the spotlight surrounding his remaining fights. Considering boxing's diminished status in the sporting landscape, Mayweather's loss could turn off even more boxing fans. Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports examines Mayweather's pursuit of perfection in comparison to record chases made in other sports:
There is little such hubbub surrounding Floyd Mayweather's perfect record, however, even though he's in the stretch run of an epic career. Maybe it says something about boxing's place in the American sporting landscape. Maybe it's that Mayweather isn't really chasing a record and doesn't have any shot whatsoever at getting one. Or maybe it's that Mayweather is so good, so dominant, that it's become boring.
Fights from someone no longer defending perfection could turn off plenty of casual observers and potential new fans. Mayweather's career shouldn't end with a series of increasingly uninteresting fights considering all he has accomplished beforehand.
Mayweather has reason to be concerned against Maidana because of the latter's excellent power. Maidana earned this fight by beating the previously undefeated Adrien Broner in May. Mayweather is unconvinced that this portends doom for him at the MGM Grand.
Expect Maidana, who works at a plodding pace compared to Mayweather, to look for an opportunity to land a few shots to the body before going after Mayweather with a haymaker. He doesn't have the defensive technique or quick hands to dance around with Money for 12 rounds and expect a victory. Maidana must rely on his power punching, which does make him highly susceptible to counters, especially from the wily Mayweather.
A draw is unlikely but still possible considering Maidana is known for his excellent stamina. The reaction to a draw would be interesting, as Mayweather could still claim triumph as an undefeated boxer at the end of his career. However, the strict definition of perfection he would trade in would certainly be hurt and would most likely damage his legacy, though not as much as an outright loss.