Pound-for-pound, “king” Floyd Mayweather Jr has what he considers the ideal strategy when he puts his perfect record on the line today against power-puncher Marcos Maidana.
“The game plan is to stay in the pocket. Make the guy miss and make the guy pay,” says Mayweather, who is the highest-paid athlete in North American sports, earning an estimated US$85 million a year, according to Forbes magazine.
The 37-year-old undefeated American is to be a 12-1 favorite when he defends his World Boxing Council welterweight crown against the World Boxing Association (WBA) champion Maidana in a unification bout at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.
Mayweather has won championship belts in five divisions and remains undefeated in 45 career fights.
He is a defensive-minded fighter who beats his opponents with Olympic-style tactics — racking up points with the judges.
His counterpunching strategy may not make for exciting knockouts, but it has served him well during his 18-year career.
“Is Marcos Maidana one of the best in the sport? Absolutely,” Mayweather said. “But I am the best there is. We are still wondering who’s going to solve the ‘MayVinci Code?’ But come Saturday I will find a way to win.”
The fight is the third of the 30-month, six-fight deal worth US$200 million-plus that Mayweather signed with pay-per-view outlet Showtime.
In his last fight, Mayweather became the unified super welterweight world champion by dominating Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez on Sept. 14 last year.
His fight against Alvarez was the highest-grossing pay-per-view bout of all time with revenues of more than US$150 million For today’s contest, Mayweather is guaranteed a purse of US$32 million, while Maidana is to receive US$1.5 million.
The 30-year-old Maidana (35-3, 31 KOs) will be making the first defense of his belt.
Some purists have a hard time getting excited for today’s fight.
Journeyman Maidana earned this shot by beating Adrien Broner for the WBA title in December last year. However, the heavy underdog has also lost to one of the fighters on the undercard, Amir Khan, who stopped Maidana in December 2010.
“Maidana is a predictable fighter,” said Floyd Mayweather Sr, who trains his son. “When I see Maidana, I see someone that Floyd can easily pick apart. Maidana may be able to punch strong, but here’s the thing — how you going to hit something you can’t catch.”
Today’s undercard features British superstar Khan squaring off against American Luis Collazo in a non-title fight that could put the winner in line to fight Mayweather in the fall.
Khan had thought he was on course to fight Mayweather on this card, but Mayweather plumped for facing Maidana instead.
The 27-year-old Khan is to end a 12-month hiatus today when he moves up to the welterweight division to face Collazo.
“He will be bigger than me on the night of the fight and at times I will have to dig deep,” Khan said.
There is also a non-title super-lightweight fight between Americans Adrien Broner and Carlos Molina.