• Steve Bunce

Can Maidana make Mayweather work for his money?

Steve Bunce April 29, 2014
Floyd Mayweather may be the overwhelming favourite against Marcos Maidana, but don't expect him to have it all his own way © Getty Images

This Saturday, five of the best welterweights in the world will fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and they could split about $75 million for their ring adventures.

The main attraction on the night, and also the biggest earner in the business of boxing for the last five or six years, is Floyd Mayweather, whose personal fortune is fast approaching the half-billion dollar mark. He fights an Argentine called Marcos Maidana and it could be a hard fight in parts for little Floyd, who will be defending his WBC welterweight title and trying to win Maidana's WBA version.

Buncey's Vaults

James Bonecrusher Smith was one of 16 heavyweights involved in the so-called People's Choice Championship © Getty Images
  • It was and remains boxing's craziest tournament but it came very close to never happening. "James Bonecrusher Smith and 15 other heavyweights, many of whom are in various states of decay, appeared still to be contemplating a unique sporting mutiny last night." That was one of my opening lines in the paper on the day of the event.
  • The problem was that the so-called 'People's Choice Championship', a one-day tournament for 16 heavyweights, was in financial trouble. The fighters had been given new contracts on the eve of the event and the money had been drastically reduced with the winner making £115,000 and not £750,000.
  • "There was a genuine threat of early and unscheduled violence," I wrote when the fighters and the promoters sat down poolside at the Waveland Inn, next to the "swamp-surrounded Casino Magic resort near the town of Waveland in South Mississippi". It was a remote adventure, that is for sure.
  • "'Man, I signed for the million and that is what I plan on making,'" said Peckham's former Commonwealth heavyweight champion Derek Williams. Meanwhile, Jason Williams, who had been freed from prison after serving a four-year sentence for a drug offence, insisted that he was fighting: "'I don't really care about the money.'"
  • The event did take place.
  • As reported in The Daily Telegraph, December 3, 1993

The main supporting contest is between Bolton's Amir Khan and former welterweight world champion Luis Collazo. The third fight features Adrien Broner, the fighter that too many boxing fans are too quick to condemn because he acts like a fool.

The five fighters will no doubt be watched from ringside by most of the other top welterweights in the world, and one or two from other divisions, who are desperate to get close to Mayweather's millions.

"Floyd is like Willie Wonka and getting a fight with him is like having a golden ticket," said Keith Thurman, the WBA welterweight champion.

"It's no secret that everybody wants a fight with Floyd because that is where the big money is," said Shawn Porter, the IBF welterweight champion.

The other world welterweight champion is the WBO's Manny Pacquiao and there is no chance that the Filipino politician will be anywhere near ringside. There is actually every chance that Mayweather and Pacquiao will never even be in the same room ever again - forget the fantasy of the pair fighting.

This Saturday will be Mayweather's third fight with his new paymaster's Showtime and there is, thankfully, every chance that a real fight will finally break out. Maidana is a genuine contender with that raw mix of power, belligerence and bravery that makes him far more dangerous than the last two men that disappointed in their fights against little Floyd.

Mayweather eats at the souls of the men he fights and by the time the first bell sounds they often act and fight like hollow versions of the men that originally signed contracts. In the ring his speed, timing and ability to not get hit further frustrates the broken men in front of him; they seem to quit on the job and from the first bell until the last it can often be a thrill-free ride. Mayweather, you see, is quite brilliant and that is not the same as being exciting.

Maidana, who lost to Khan in 2010 and ruined Broner last year, will not be so easily duped by Mayweather, Mayweather's cheerleaders and Mayweather's millions. "It's just us in the ring," said Maidana, who seems genuinely shocked and insulted that people think he will freeze and not try once the first bell sounds.

There is every chance that Maidana will have success and could even catch and hurt Mayweather. There is every chance that for a few rounds Mayweather will have to stand and deliver because Maidana simply refuses to follow the pattern of most recent challengers. Mayweather will, however, find the distance, the eye and the way to win. He has done so 45 times and this time it could even be a brutal stoppage, something that is increasingly rare when he fights.

In victory he might even allow himself a glance at ringside where the expectant and hopeful flock of future challengers will be gathered in silent prayer. Will it be Khan, Collazo or even his friend Broner in the opposite corner during the next 12 months?

Is it possible that the unbeaten duo of world champions Porter and Thurman will get the call, win the sweepstake and get the chance to hunt down the ring wizard? I think both are too in awe of Mayweather at the moment to stand much chance of an upset, which is not to say that they are not worthy of a fight; both would have the speed to cause Mayweather problems and Thurman also has the power to damage an ageing pugilist.

So this Saturday it is Maidana and he might not have that sexy American or Mexican unbeaten pedigree, he might not be slick or easy on the eye but he can fight and he is fearless. I have a feeling that Mayweather's routine plan will be deeply shaken on Saturday and I expect blood, thrills and spills before the end. The less invincible Mayweather looks, the more chance there is that future opponents will not start the fight looking like condemned men.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Steve Bunce Close
Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.