LAS VEGAS – The hype machine for a big-money event like the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana pay-per-view bout has had its desired effect. It has slowly, subtly but unquestionably been shifting views over time.
For months now, we've been reminded of the significance of Maidana's December victory over Adrien Broner and how that somehow makes him a threat to defeat Mayweather when they meet Saturday for the WBA and WBC welterweight titles at the MGM Grand Garden.
The sports radio talk-show hosts, who normally ignore boxing unless Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao is fighting, regurgitate the message, minute after minute, segment after segment, hour after hour: Maidana hits very hard and has a chance to win.
At the final pre-fight news conference, the drumbeat continued. Speaker after speaker made a case for Maidana as a viable challenger. Before long, it sounded almost as if Mayweather were preparing to fight Sugar Ray Robinson rather than a guy who didn't win a round against Devon Alexander just two years ago.
The message isn't even so subtle: Maidana could win. Maidana might win. Maidana probably will win.
The preview shows recount in great detail Maidana's unexpectedly strong showing that included two knockdowns in his win over Broner and speak of his punching power in legendary terms.
It's all a bunch of bull.
Barring a miracle, Marcos Maidana will become Floyd Mayweather victim No. 46 on Saturday when they meet in their Showtime pay-per-view match.
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Maidana has about as much of a chance to beat Mayweather as he does of dating Scarlett Johansson. The public is less likely to buy pay-per-views when it expects a blowout and more likely to buy when it believes it could see history and that Mayweather might lose.
It's not happening.
Maidana is a good, solid professional boxer who is on a nice roll. In the four fights he's had since he hired trainer Robert Garcia after being blown out by Alexander, he's 4-0 with three knockouts in victories over Broner, Josesito Lopez, Angel Martinez and Jesus Soto Karass.
None of those men, though, would have a prayer of beating Mayweather and, truthfully, neither does Maidana.
Maidana is a hard puncher and is probably one of the hardest hitters in and around 147 pounds. He's got a knockout percentage of 81.6, which is eye-poppingly good.
But dig a little deeper and it's not nearly as impressive. When you consider Maidana's knockout record against better opposition, it's much less.
He essentially entered boxing's big-time in 2009 when he dropped a split decision to 2000 Olympic silver medalist Andriy Kotelnik.
The Kotelnik match started a stretch of 13 bouts that included 11 fights against opposition that could be considered world class. The only opponents who really aren't considered world-class during that run are William Gonzalez and Angel Martinez, both of whom Maidana knocked out in the third.
But for the sake of this point, we'll include those fights in this argument. So since Feb. 7, 2009, when he began to meet world-class opposition, Maidana is 10-3 with seven knockouts.
That's a knockout percentage of 53.8, much less than his overall percentage. By way of comparison, his knockout rate in his 25 bouts before meeting Kotelnik was 96 percent.
That means his knockout percentage against quality fighters dropped by more than 40 percent.
And given that Mayweather is harder to knock out than most, what does that say about Maidana's chance to actually win? It says it's very slim.
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The two factors that would favor Maidana are Mayweather's age and the odds. The odds would suggest that sooner or later, Mayweather will be caught by one of those big shots and won't be able to get away.
And he's 37 years old and it's not uncommon for athletes of that age to lose it overnight and be unable to sustain past performance.
There has been nothing to suggest that's the case with Mayweather, who should roll to a unanimous decision Saturday in which he wins 10 or more rounds.
That would leave him three fights remaining on his contract. He spoke several times this week of retirement, and even his closest friend and the CEO of his promotional company, Leonard Ellerbe, was caught off-guard by it.
"Floyd and I talk about everything, but when he started talking about retiring, that was news to me," Ellerbe said. "Just me personally, if Saturday is his last fight, I'd be the happiest person in the world for him, because I know what he's put into this sport.
"You get to a point where it's like, 'How much money can you make?' He's done what he needs to do. Obviously, any decision like that is Floyd's and Floyd's alone, but if he chooses to retire, I would support him fully."
If he continues to fight, there is no one logical opponent outside of Manny Pacquiao who would both stir the masses and get Mayweather's competitive juices flowing.
If Mayweather and Pacquiao had fought in 2010, it would have been close to a pick 'em fight. Though I think Mayweather would have outboxed him, those who believed at the time that Pacquiao's pressure and power would have caused Mayweather big problems have a good argument.
Only Pacquiao's most ardent supporters would argue now that a distance hasn't been created between them over the years since that match was first discussed. While Pacquiao remains among the elite fighters in the sport, he's no longer the menace that he once was, and Mayweather would be a comfortable favorite.
A Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, though, is unlikely to occur, so it's not worth spending much time discussing.
Most likely, if Mayweather comes through Saturday's bout unscathed, he'll fight Amir Khan next. After that, he'd pick from a list of Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Miguel Cotto and, less likely, Kell Brook, for the final two fights on his contract in 2015.
There are some Mayweather detractors who would suggest he should move up to middleweight to fight a champion there. The problem is, Mayweather isn't a big welterweight.
After the weigh-in and after he rehydrates, he's not likely to weigh 151 in the ring on Saturday.
Peter Quillin is the WBO middleweight champion and, like Mayweather, is originally from Grand Rapids. He's 31-0 with 22 knockouts and is promoted by Golden Boy and fights on Showtime, all of which make it easier to make a fight for him against Mayweather.
If Mayweather goes into the final fight of his contract at 48-0, the last bout, which tentatively would come off in the fall of 2015, would be massive whether he fought an elite opponent or the toughest custodian available at the MGM Grand.
Taking a risk to go up to middleweight to face an unbeaten Quillin in his final fight could push interest to stratospheric levels, however.
But size is a very legitimate issue in a potential match between them. There are weight classes for a reason.
The speculation about Mayweather's future will begin anew late Saturday, not long after he dispatches Maidana.
The clock is ticking and there is no one on the horizon everyone can get behind and believe has a legitimate chance to be the first to hand Mayweather a defeat.
Barring some unexpectedly miraculous event, that someone sure doesn't figure to be Maidana.
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