Both Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Marcos Maidana will enter the MGM Grand in Las Vegas with a career full of memorable moments and epic victories that got them to this position.
Mayweather (45-0-0, 26 KO) enters the fight as the overwhelming favorite, with more career prestige and especially money—he's set to make at least $32 million, some 21 times more than Maidana's $1.5 million, according to Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. But the Argentine comes in with an impressive resume as well, boasting a 35-3-0 record with 31 knockouts and immense power.
"Money May" has battled in some of the best fights of the millennium and too many important ones to note. A win on Saturday would be just one more for the undefeated superstar, while a Maidana victory would be a defining moment for both him and the sport of boxing.
Let's take a glimpse into the most memorable moments of each fighter's career as they get set to duel in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Mayweather: Juan Manuel Marquez, 2009
After defeating Ricky Hatton in 2007 and making yet another statement, Mayweather retired from boxing for two years until 2009. When he returned to the ring, he ran into a nightmare matchup.
Juan Manuel Marquez had beaten up his last six opponents with a split-decision loss to Manny Pacquiao in between, and he came into his Mayweather fight as a serious threat and the sport's best technical fighter not named Mayweather. If Money May hadn't wiped off the rust, Marquez was going to do it for him.
But instead of looking out of shape or unprepared, Mayweather was never better, showing off his peak speed and defensive mechanics to wear down Marquez. The Mexican star boxer kept battling, but Mayweather knocked him to the canvas a couple of times, and his jaw remained unhittable as always with his quick head movement.
By the end of the fight, the 120-107, 119-108, 118-109 scorecards further showed that Marquez was hardly in a single round of the fight.
Mayweather has won 45 professional bouts, but this was one of the most convincing. After taking a hiatus from the sport and seeing Marquez and Pacquiao try to take over, he welcomed himself back into the spotlight and re-asserted his claim as the world's best active fighter.
Mayweather: Miguel Cotto, 2012
The 37-year-old has seen his fair share of valuable victories, but given where his career is in 2014, one recent result stands out as his signature moment.
May 5, 2012 had been hyped as a day in which Mayweather would make the dream bout between him and Pacquiao happen, but Miguel Cotto filled in when talks broke down. Considering the change of opponent, the tempered excitement wasn't too surprising.
But Cotto came out ready to make all of that a distant memory. Looking for his 38th career win, the Puerto Rican international was the aggressor in the opening rounds and was able to land a few of his punches.
By the end of the third round, he had seemingly won at least one—if not more—of the rounds convincingly and was in position to make the undefeated champion sweat down the stretch.
But just as Money May does against all of his opponents, he eventually wore Cotto down. The opponent's aggressive tempo left him fatigued, and Mayweather—bloodied up but energized from sitting back—pounced to assure an easy victory over the final rounds.
Cotto revealed a blueprint that can beat Mayweather—getting him on his heels with power and landing those punches. He just didn't land quite enough of them early on and didn't have anything left in the tank down the stretch to continue fighting that way.
Amid an era of his career that is filled with seemingly cupcake bouts, this hard-earned victory for Mayweather in 2012 further helped his case as the world's best boxer.
Maidana: Adrien Broner, 2013
There's no doubt that the biggest bout—by far—of Maidana's career was the one that got him this megafight with Mayweather.
On December 14, 2013, "El Chino" faced Adrien Broner, who was looking to defend his WBA welterweight title against a boxer six years older than him. And looking like boxers who were not even suited to fight against each other, the 30-year-old Maidana whooped up on the 24-year-old Broner.
Maidana's powerful punches were never on a better display than in the first few rounds, as he constantly landed big blows and knocked Broner down multiple times. The titleholder was heroic for even withstanding the onslaught and not getting knocked out from Maidana's sheer domination.
Somehow, Broner made it to the final bell, but the judges made no mistake about it with a unanimous decision for Maidana.
After the fight, Maidana said that his energy and will spurred him to victory, per ESPN's Dan Rafael: "This win is very satisfying to me. My plan was to win with my heart and keep going forward. Every time I landed a punch, I felt like I was hurting him."
Few fighters go into a fight and have as much success as Maidana had against Broner. How he is able to use that momentum heading into Saturday's fight will be key in his ability to set the tone early.
Broner emulates Mayweather's style but proved to be a few classes below him when Maidana came knocking. El Chino will have to handle that massive step up in class and continue to land his blows.
Maidana: Victor Ortiz, 2009
Considering Maidana is still a relatively unfamiliar name in boxing, you can imagine how out-of-nowhere he was in 2009.
El Chino was in his first fight in the United States, facing widely popular American 22-year-old Victor Ortiz. Despite having a 25-1 record, Maidana was making his U.S. debut.
He splashed onto the scene in a huge way. He went straight at the American poster boy who was threatening to make a quick ascension up the ranks, punishing him with his power and bloodying up his face.
Ortiz wasn't lying back, however. He bounced back at El Chino and got back into it. Both boxers went back and forth, and it was shaping up to be a classic.
But Ortiz had already tasted Maidana's power. The young American had a bad cut over his right eye, which began bleeding out of control in the sixth round and forced the referee to call a technical knockout in Maidana's favor.
It took a few more years for the now 30-year-old to face an elite boxer, but against a tough and popular opponent in Broner, he fought at his best. That could bode well for him going into Saturday, as he will be a massive underdog.
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