Floyd Mayweather signed his lucrative six-fight deal with Showtime and its parent company CBS last February, prompting Showtime Sports’ boss Stephen Espinoza to call the acquisition of the pound-for-pound king "a game-changer."
Nearly a year to the day later, Mayweather, 37, has announced the third fight of that contract and his May 3 opponent to be Marcos Maidana, a heavy-handed Argentine who is, likewise, considered a "game-changer" by Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.
"I'm very excited about May 3. You will see two game-changers in action. Floyd Mayweather is the game-changer in boxing. He owns the record for the biggest pay per view, the most revenue-generating pay per view, plus he's a game-changer outside of the ring with his flash. Mayweather is really is the face of the sport," said Schaefer a day after Mayweather announced he would fight Maidana at either the MGM Grand in Las Vegas or Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Showtime Pay Per View.
"But Marcos Maidana also has a game-changer, and his game-changer is his fists. With his fists, he can make people quit. You get hit, you go down. Without any question, he's the biggest puncher Floyd has ever faced, and he has the biggest knockout percentage of any opponent that Floyd has ever faced. So Floyd has to fight the perfect fight. Now is he capable of fighting the perfect fight? Yes, of course he is. But is Maidana capable of connecting just once, for a moment, of course he is."
MAIDANA 'GETTING BETTER AND BETTER' UNDER TRAINER ROBERT GARCIA
Maidana (35-3, 31 knockouts) is 4-0 with three knockouts since aligning himself with trainer Robert Garcia, and is coming off December's unanimous decision that dethroned previously unbeaten Adrien Broner as WBA welterweight titleholder.
Maidana, 30, last suffered defeat by unanimous decision to Devon Alexander in his 147-pound debut in February 2012, but has stoppage wins over Josesito Lopez and Jesus Soto Karass among his past three wins.
During a fight in which he dropped Broner in the fourth and eighth rounds, Maidana landed 120 more overall punches (269-to-149) than his opponent, connected on 109 more power shots (231-to-122), and 11 more jabs (38-to-27).
Also contributing to Maidana’s domination was his punishing work downstairs, where he connected on 101 body blows, according to statistics provided by Showtime.
"I really think that the world knows that Marcos Maidana is one of the most dangerous opponents and the biggest punchers. Once Garcia got involved with Marcos Maidana, I think that Maidana has been getting better and better. Also, with Alex Ariza as his strength and conditioning coach, I think that he has assembled a terrific team which will prepare him to be in the best shape of his life to go against the pound-for-pound king," said Schaefer.
"He has that game-changer. With that one punch, he could just end it all for Mayweather. If he connects with that one punch on Mayweather, then who knows what's going to happen. That's what challenges Floyd to train extra hard and to go the extra step. We know how everyone else has reacted so far once they get hit by Marcos Maidana. How is Floyd going to react? That's going to be the question."
WHAT'S NEXT FOR BRONER, KHAN?
Maidana will bypass a previously considered rematch with Broner to engage in the biggest fight of his career against Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs), who selected Maidana over Amir Khan, owner of a unanimous decision over Maidana in 2010.
"Both Adrien and Amir are big names and they're exciting fighters, and there will be exciting fights for them," said Schaefer. "When you're an exciting fighter, fans want to see you, networks want to see you, and that is exactly what I think will happen with Adrien and Amir."
Broner already has earned title belts over three weight classes, taking the WBO’s junior lightweight strap by third-round knockout over Vicente Martin Rodriguez in November 2011, and the WBC’s lightweight version following an eighth-round stoppage of Antonio DeMarco in November 2012.
In his previous bout in June before facing Maidana, Broner, 24, jumped two weight classes for his 147-pound debut with a split-decision victory that dethroned Paulie Malignaggi for the WBA’s belt.
Within a week of Broner's loss to Maidana, Mayweather advised against his taking a rematch against Maidana, even suggesting that he fight on the May 3 card.
“I don’t think he should be focused on chasing the Maidana fight," said Mayweather, at the time. "I think what would be a good move for him is this. May 3, fight on my undercard; you know, fight a solid guy at 140, get back on track."
Golden Boy has a host of fighters at 140- and 147 pounds who could be in the mix for bouts against Broner or Khan, including IBF junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson, fellow 140-pounder Lucas Matthysse, IBF welterweight beltholder Shawn Porter, and 147-pounders Malignaggi, Keith Thurman, Devon Alexander, Robert Guerrero and Luis Collazo.
"If Floyd would have picked Amir, Maidana would have still had a big fight, but Floyd picked Maidana, and so Amir is going to have a big fight as will Adrien Broner," said Schaefer.
"So now that we know what the pound-for-pound king is doing, it's going to be up to me and [advisor] Al [Haymon] to get all of these other fights done and lined up. That's what I'm going to be working on. We were sort of stuck until the main piece of the puzzle fell into place. Now, I can start putting it all together. I'm going to go to work now."
SEBASTIAN CONTURSI: MAIDANA 'HAS TO WIN THE FIGHT'
"If you review the opponents that Marcos Maidana has had to face, [Victor] Ortiz, [Erik ] Morales, Khan, Soto Karass, Alexander, and, of course, Broner, this is recognition for his career," said Maidana's manager, Sebastian Contursi.
"But I tell you what, we as a team don't think that Maidana won the lottery or hit the lottery like Mayweather has said. We take this as recognition, and we take this very seriously, and we have to win the fight.
Maidana was dropped three times but regrouped to score two knockdowns of his own during a sixth-round knockout win over future 147-pound beltholder Victor Ortiz in 2009.
"I am proud of Marcos as a boxer. The career that he has had has been very tough," said Contursi. "He has had many battles and it was never easy for him to succeed. It's probably the toughest of any Argentine boxer in the past few years."
Maidana echoed Contursi's sentiment on his Twitter account.
"Thanks a lot to everybody who supported me around the world! I'll give it all to give you a victory on May 3rd," wrote Maidana. "I'm just happy to face Mayweather, but it doesn't feel like I hit the lottery like he said. Only beating him it will."