In what has become an annual event the first weekend in May, Floyd Mayweather will step into the ring on Saturday night to defend his WBC and Ring welterweight titles against Marcos Maidana, who is putting the WBA welterweight belt on the line.
Of course, titles aren't what everyone focuses on when Mayweather steps in the ring. Money has his legacy to worry about, as the 37-year-old is looking to extend his career-long winning streak to 46.
Unknown to mainstream fans until last year, Maidana isn't some flash in the pan who is going to be just another notch on Mayweather's belt. He is coming off a victory last December against the previously unbeaten Adrien Broner in a fight that saw El Chino knock down the champion for the first time in Broner's career.
If you are planning to watch the epic confrontation this Saturday in hopes of seeing a methodical back-and-forth showdown, it's in your best interest to skip the fight. Mayweather and Maidana are going to have a flat-out war to determine who is the best welterweight in the world.
With so much at stake, and with both fighters on a roll, predicting the outcome isn't as simple as saying Mayweather will win just because no one has ever been able to keep up with him. Here is our projected scorecard for the bout as well as what to watch for when the bell rings.
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Mayweather's Keys to Victory
Despite my earlier statement, it's impossible to predict a loss in this spot. Until you see Pretty Boy lose, you won't believe it's going to happen.
Eventually, Mayweather might meet his match in the ring, but we have no idea who that's going to be.
The list of accolades Money has built up throughout his career is staggering, as WBC Boxing highlighted on Twitter:
Even with that vast resume, the things that separate Mayweather from the pack are his preparation and his attention to detail. His ability to move in and out, creating separation on defense and leaning in to attack, are unparalleled, as Bernardo Pilatti of ESPN.com wrote: "Staying active at all times to avoid the powerful shots of the Argentine will be a priority. Mayweather will also need to throw punches from all angles, taking advantage of the robotic and slow style Maidana has, which leaves him open for counter shots."
Mayweather has faced his share of knockout artists, including Canelo Alvarez last September, and no one has been able to touch him. That speed is what separates him from the rest of the boxing world.
Maidana's Keys to Victory
Unlike Mayweather, who can wear an opponent down early to dominate the later rounds, Maidana has one way to win: power. Of his 35 career victories, 31 have come via knockout, including four of his last six.
[Maidana] fought Adrien Broner. Everybody sits there and says, "Adrien Broner is this mini Floyd Mayweather; he's a protege. He fights nothing like Floyd Mayweather. He uses that shoulder-roll style, big deal. He doesn't throw as many punches as Floyd, he's not as elusive as Floyd. He's a totally different fighter in that respect.
Not to disparage Maidana as a challenger to Mayweather, but the style that worked against Broner isn't going to work against the best fighter in the world. Maidana was all over the place with his punches, swinging wildly and uncontrollably.
Maidana's best shot to win this fight is by stunning Mayweather in the early rounds, like he did with Broner, and then ending it in the middle rounds with a knockout. He can't go a full 12 rounds with someone as athletic and resilient as Pretty Boy.
How will the fight end?
Even though Maidana is an overwhelming underdog in this fight, there's always the question of what could happen if he were to land that one punch. Mayweather is one of the greatest boxers in history, so whoever gives him his first defeat will need power to put him on the mat.
There's nothing Mayweather can't do in the ring. We have seen him defeat bigger fighters. We've seen what he can do with more than a year off in between fights (thanks to his destruction of Victor Ortiz nearly three years ago).
The one thing Mayweather hasn't done much recently is knock opponents out. He defeated Ortiz with a big right hand in the fourth round despite some controversy over whether the referee had restarted the fight.
How Mayweather wins doesn't matter. He's going to prove one more time that no one in the sport can compete with him.
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