This weekend boxing’s pound for pound king, Floyd Mayweather is back in action at his second home, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Floyd Mayweather’s opponent on this occasion is hard-hitting Argentine brawler Marcos Maidana. ‘Chino’ as he is known, earned his shot at the sport’s money man by beating Mayweather protégé Adrien Broner last December. Despite earning his shot, few give Maidana a realistic shot of victory. Anything other than a wide decision victory for Mayweather would be a real surprise. However, the presence of both Broner and Amir Khan on the undercard adds a bit more spice to the card. With this in mind, what are the major points of interest to look out for this weekend?
1. Will Father Time finally show up?
Two weeks ago we saw a 49-year-old Bernard Hopkins prove that Father Time appears to have taken a vacation, at least from boxing. Mayweather celebrated his 37th birthday in February and as a general rule in boxing, the lower the weight class, the earlier fighters tend to peak. Heavyweights will often enjoy their peak years in their mid-thirties whilst those from welterweight down have usually peaked before 30.
Twelve months ago, Mayweather ended a year of inactivity when he took on mandatory contender Robert Guerrero. The ring rust, prison spell and the fact that Mayweather hadn’t looked his best in his May 2012 showdown with Miguel Cotto had many people tipping Guerrero to finally take Floyd’s ‘0’. Mayweather showed how foolish it was to doubt him and delivered a master-class.
He followed that up last September with another boxing clinic against Canelo Alvarez and has shown no sign that his 17 year professional career was finally entering a decline. Maidana’s best chance this weekend is that Father Time returns with a vengeance and Mayweather suddenly begins to look his age.
2. How will Mayweather choose to fight?
Floyd is notorious for taking a couple of rounds to analyse his opponent and devise a game plan mid-fight. Against Guerrero he used his footwork to befuddle the challenger and by the 4th round, Guerrero looked lost and visibly demoralised. In September against Alvarez, Mayweather chose to stand in front of the bigger, heavier challenger and showed he doesn’t have to move his feet to make people miss. Personally, I believe he can comfortably win using either tactic against Maidana but replicating his tactics from the Canelo fight would be both more entertaining and significantly riskier against the hard hitting Argentine.
3. The Robert Garcia Effect
Robert Garcia is perhaps the best up-and-coming trainer in the sport right now. In 2012 he was voted the sport’s trainer of the year and his stable of improving fighters continues to expand. Garcia first began to work with Maidana in 2012 and the pair are unbeaten in four fights together so far. Maidana was already an accomplished fighter before he joined Garcia’s gym so the transformation has been more like polishing a rough diamond rather than unearthing one. Garcia has looked to tweak aspects of Maidana’s style rather than rebuild it.
So far the effects are promising. Chino has lost little of his aggressive brawling but has improved his defence and footwork. This weekend will be the biggest test, by far, for the new partnership.
4. Adrien Broner, has ‘The Problem’ been solved?
Broner is, or was, the most highly-rated young fighter in the sport before his loss to Maidana in December. He had the talent and loud-mouth personality to be a future PPV star in the mould of his ‘big brother’ Floyd. The defeat to Maidana has slowed talk of ‘The Problem’ being the heir to the throne but it may have been the best thing to happen to him. The natural ability is clearly there but, certainly against Maidana, his attitude was all wrong.
Defeat may humble him, a little at least, and force him to rededicate himself to his craft. On Saturday, he will drop down to 140 pounds and take on Carlos Molina. His opponent has, of course, been selected to get Broner back on track and a comfortable win is expected. However, his performance and attitude will be of greater interest. Hopefully we will see a focused and determined Adrien Broner who is all business.
5. Khan Amir still compete at the top?
Another man on the comeback trail is Britain’s Amir Khan. Although he has won his last two fights, Khan’s reputation is still suffering from his July 2012 knockout loss against Danny Garcia. His previous two victories have come against lesser opponents. This weekend he makes a step up in class against a rejuvenated Luis Collazo. Collazo is a one-time WBA welterweight titlist but lost his title to another Brit, Ricky Hatton, in 2006.
In recent years he had looked to be descending into journeyman status. However, his 2nd round KO of Victor Ortiz in January has put him back into the frame at the top 10 of the welterweight division. Collazo has some power and Khan is notorious for his chin problems. Combine that with Khan’s brilliant offensive skills and this fight has all the makings of a show stealer.
Predictions: I would expect to see a comfortable victory for Mayweather in the main event. It may not provide much in the way of drama but there is something almost scientific about watching Mayweather analyse and then dissect his opponent. Adrien Broner should deliver an exciting attacking performance and he should be able to secure a knock out. The fight of the night for action fans is likely to be Khan-Collazo. Amir is rarely in a dull fight. I expect him to get the victory but I wouldn’t bank on it and he may have to overcome a knockdown or two to do it.
Michael McCarthy, Pundit Arena.