Why Marcos Maidana is happy to let Floyd Mayweather talk the talk

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports

LAS VEGAS – The day, as it usually is when fight night gets close, is all about Floyd Mayweather.

The world's greatest boxer talked about his interest in buying the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, and thanked MGM Resorts International for buying him a $1.6 million car and a $400,000 watch as gifts.

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Mayweather declined to talk about the break-off of his engagement with Shantel Jackson, which he had revealed on Episode 1 of All-Access on Showtime. On Tuesday, when Jackson's name was mentioned, he interrupted his questioner and said of Jackson, "Her good outweighs her bad."

He said he is at least considering retirement before the end of his current contract and sloughed off the obligatory question about a Manny Pacquiao fight as if it were a plant from Pacquiao promoter and Mayweather rival Bob Arum.

"I know how Bob Arum operates," he said.

[Related: Why Floyd Mayweather's perfect record doesn't get the respect it deserves]

Ignored in most of this was the guy he'll make $32 million plus pay-per-view upside to fight on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden, Marcos Maidana.

For big Las Vegas fights, it has become a tradition for Tuesday to be the grand arrival day for the fighters, where a DJ screams in the lobby of the hotel to fans clamoring for a glimpse of their heroes.

A vastly larger than normal media contingent gathered in the VIP room just off the main lobby at the MGM Grand, proof to some degree that speculation that the Mayweather-Maidana fight wouldn't be so big is wrong. There was a pack of reporters from Maidana's native Argentina. A large group of reporters from the United Kingdom were there. And so were reporters from around the country, most of whom tend not to arrive in Las Vegas until closer to the fight.

But this was a chance to hear Mayweather talk, and the clock on his brilliant career is winding down, so the big crowd turned out.

In the midst of it, Maidana is being treated as a necessary evil. The odds are big and are rising, with Mayweather an 11 ½-1 favorite. Maidana is making $1.5 million, not a bad payday by any means, but it's far less than other Mayweather challengers, and it's the same amount Amir Khan will make to fight Luis Collazo on the undercard.

Maidana seemed uncomfortable Tuesday, though not nervous about the impending fight. He was seated on a three-person couch along with two burly reporters and his trainer, Robert Garcia, and went through the obligatory question-and-answer period while appearing like he'd rather have been just about anywhere else.

Maidana is a cowboy from Santa Fe, Argentina, much more comfortable in the wild with nature than in the midst of all the glitz, hype and glamor of a place like Las Vegas.

He's not even a boxing fan and pays little attention to the sport when he's not fighting.

And that, Garcia believes, is the reason why Maidana may be the first to succeed where 45 others failed against Mayweather.

Maidana has the punching power, to be sure, to knock Mayweather out. He's pound-for-pound one of the hardest punchers in the game.

Having the power and being able to use it against a difficult-to-hit opponent like Mayweather are two different things.

For most of training camp, Mayweather has had his good guy hat on, but as fight night nears, he's developed an edge. As he is asked about Maidana's power, he begins to show his competitive side.

He's only been knocked down once officially, and that was when a broken hand was so painful that in the waning seconds of a fight, he touched his glove to the mat to get a break.

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Mayweather, though, sneers at talk that Maidana may be the first to either truly knock him down or knock him out. Maidana got the fight with Mayweather in large part because of his Dec. 14 upset of heavily favored Adrien Broner. Maidana knocked Broner down and generally battered Broner en route to a 12-round decision.

The fact that Maidana failed to knock out Broner didn't escape the sharp eye of Mayweather.

"He was fighting Adrien Broner, a blown-up lightweight, and he knocked him down but he couldn't finish him, and you think he's going to knock me out?" Mayweather asked, sounding indignant.

But Garcia thinks that Maidana may indeed pull it off for a variety of reasons, including a full training camp of work with conditioning coach Alex Ariza.

Maidana is – you guessed it – in the best shape of his life, Garcia said, after working seven weeks with Ariza.

As important as his conditioning and his power is his attitude. Because he doesn't follow boxing much, he's not such in tune with the Mayweather legend and isn't awed by facing him.

"He doesn't have that respect and so he'll get right in his face and fight him," Garcia said.

One of the most underrated aspects of Mayweather's game is his ability to take a punch. He's not hit all that often and so he doesn't regularly show it off, but when he was cracked by the likes of Shane Mosley and DeMarcus Corley and hurt in fights earlier in his career, he didn't go down.

In order to get Mayweather out, it almost is certain Maidana would need to land a combination, not just one punch unless it happened to be the punch of his lifetime.

"If I hit him, I'm going to punch again and then punch again and again," Maidana said. "I'm going to keep punching."

He's the co-star of the show, but in truth, he's a bit player in what is a one-man show. And that's OK with him.

Maidana isn't concerned about fame, or telling funny stories, or bragging about his car collection.

He's got an infant baby at home in Argentina he's anxious to return to see. She was only a handful of days old when he had to leave for Oxnard, Calif., to begin training camp for Saturday's bout.

Mayweather opened as an 8 ½-1 betting favorite, went up to as high as 12-1 and now sits as 11 ½-1. Bettors, at least for the time being, are not giving Maidana much of a shot, even though there is next-to-no value in betting Mayweather.

At the current odds, it would take a bet of $1,150 to make a $100 profit. A wager of $100 on Maidana to win, though, would bring a $650 profit.

Still, for the time being, the bettors are avoiding the heavy-handed Argentine.

Like most things, though, he's not worried. He's content to play second fiddle to Mayweather in just about everything because, crazy or not, he's convinced he'll win.

"Things will change then," he said. "Once I win, it will be a lot different."

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