LAS VEGAS – Floyd Mayweather Jr. went through a litany of the scenarios he faced before the major matches in his 18-year career, and you got the idea that it will be “been there, done that" when he steps into the ring against Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night.
“Everybody’s game plan is to come straight, keep pressure, hit him on the leg, hit him on the hip, hit him with a low blow, head butt him. I still find a way to win," he said on Wednesday.
“They say this guy here is super fast. But I still find a way to win. This guy got a good left hook. This guy has a good right hand. This guy goes to the body good. I still find a way to win. This guy got good defense. This guy got the best jab. This guy throws combinations. I still find a way to win. Saturday I’ll find a way to win."
You sense a theme. Yes, he always wins. Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) jokingly called trying to figure out a way to beat him the “May-Vinci Code." If Maidana (35-3, 31 KOs) does figure it out, he will have done something that 44 previous opponents (he fought Jose Luis Castillo twice) couldn’t do. And it will be a sports equivalent of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone.
The list of attributes and tactics that Mayweather listed belonged to a Who’s Who of world class caliber boxers including Genaro Hernandez, Jose Luis Castillo, the late Diego Corrales, DeMarcus Corley, Zab Judah, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley and Miguel Cotto.
Their common opponents are Ortiz and Corley. Maidana fought Corley six years later and beyond his prime and won a decision. Maidana scored a sixth-round TKO victory over Ortiz with the two trading knockdowns in the match. Mayweather knocked out Ortiz in the fourth round after Ortiz deliberately head butted him, tried to apologize and dropped his guard. Some say it was a cheap shot, but Ortiz, showing a lack of experience, forgot a cardinal rule of boxing: Protect yourself at all times.
Is Maidana better than all the previous opponents that Mayweather has faced or is he just another sacrificial lamb being led to the Showtime pay-per-view slaughter?
Maidana, who will earn $1.5 million, believes he has something special that no other boxer has been able to spring on Mayweather. He believes it involves his power and relentless pressure. If Mayweather adjusts, Maidana said he is ready to pull out another plan.
“I’m prepared for whatever he brings," Maidana said. “If he wants to trade blows, we’ll trade blows. If he wants to run, we can handle that, too. We’re prepared for everything."
Four of the best pure boxers that Maidana has faced are Amir Khan, Devon Alexander, Erik Morales (past his prime) and Adrien Broner. He lost decisions to Khan and Alexander, scored a majority decision against Morales and dominated Broner in a 12-round decision, which paved the way for him to get the match against Mayweather.
Khan dropped Maidana with a body shot in the first round and then had to hold off a relentless assault in the final round to secure a 12-round decision victory. He said Maidana has to be able to effectively counterpunch against Mayweather to have any shot at getting in his power shots and winning the fight.
“Mayweather is a quick fighter with quick reflexes," Khan said. “He’s going to have to find a lot of ways to give Maidana problems and the only way Maidana has to give Mayweather problems is to punch with him at the same time. That’s the only way that he might be able to land any shots."
Alexander outboxed the 30-year-old Argentine and Kevin Cunningham, Alexander’s trainer, said Alexander could have knocked him out if he had stepped on the gas. Cunningham believes Mayweather, who is guaranteed $32 million for the fight, will knock out Maidana, who is 4-0 since the loss to Alexander.
“Mayweather is going to have him so confused," Cunningham said. “Devon was on the way to stopping him. Maidana was really ready to get out of there. When Floyd senses that he’s ready to get out of there he’s going to get him out of there. I think eighth or ninth round he’s going to get potshot and counterpunched and Floyd is going to start digging into the body. He’s either going to quit or Floyd is going to knock him out and stop him."
Mayweather said Maidana has to be wondering why he couldn’t stop Broner and just what that means against an accomplished welterweight like Mayweather, boxing’s pound-for-pound best.
“He didn’t knock out Adrien Broner and he’s a blown up lightweight," Mayweather said. “Yeah he knocked him down, but he should have knocked him out. He was supposed to finish him. Who is the guy Josesito Lopez that he fought? He got hurt by Lopez. Canelo (Alvarez) walked through Lopez like he was wet tissue. You have to start looking at certain things."
Maidana will carry a truckload of motivation and hunger into the ring. But Mayweather pointed out it takes more than that to beat him.
“When the best fight the best, it takes more than just power. It takes more than just a great heart," Mayweather said. “You have to dig deep. You have to be mentally strong, not just physically strong, to win a fight like this."