Floyd Mayweather, Jr. turned 37 years old on Monday and he gave himself a fantastic birthday present – the best one possible.
It was a hand-picked, gift-wrapped present imported from Argentina that will yield to Mayweather’s dictates in the ring during another big-money boxing extravaganza on May 3.
After much anticipation, Mayweather announced on Monday that he will be fighting Marcos Maidana, a big puncher with underwhelming boxing skills, in a 12-round WBC/WBA welterweight unification championship match. No site has been determined, but the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn are in the running.
Mayweather selected Maidana over Amir Khan, who had been the subject of months of speculation that he would be Mayweather’s opponent on May 3. Khan of Bolton, England had gotten to the threshold, negotiating a deal with Mayweather, but he couldn’t make it through the doorway as Mayweather never signed the agreement.
This past Friday Khan, feeling frustrated by Mayweather dragging his feet on making a decision, took himself out of consideration for the fight. That left the door opened for Maidana, a 30-year-old from Margarita, Santa Fe, Argentina who thrust himself into consideration by soundly defeating Adrien Broner and taking away his WBA welterweight title in a 12-round decision this past December.
"Marcos Maidana's last performance immediately brought him to my attention," Mayweather said in a statement released by his publicists. "He is an extremely skilled fighter who brings knockout danger to the ring. I think this is a great fight for me and he deserves the opportunity to see if he can do what 45 others have tried to do before him - beat me."
Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) should beware of Argentines bearing gifts. There is another welterweight champion’s cautionary tale here. Zab Judah was the undisputed welterweight champion when he took on a lightly regarded Argentine named Carlos Baldomir. Judah brought Baldomir to his back yard, Madison Square Garden, to fight him in a showcase match before his hometown crowd. Baldomir nearly knocked out Judah and handily defeated him to take away the undisputed championship.
It’s highly unlikely that Mayweather will fall victim to Maidana the way that Judah did against Baldomir. But it’s something to keep in the back of your mind when they climb into the ring at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in May. Even though Mayweather is now 37, Maidana lacks the necessary boxing IQ to match wits with Mayweather. And Maidana (35-3, 31 KOs) is an inviting target. His defense is more than suspect. It has been arrested and convicted. He gets hit – a lot.
"I am extremely happy to be facing Floyd Mayweather because it will give me the opportunity to show the world that I am the best welterweight in the division," Maidana said in a statement released by Mayweather Promotions. "I just handed a great defensive fighter his first loss and I plan to do the same to Mayweather. I don't care whether he's the best and undefeated. I will bring some real Latino power to him on May 3."
That’s a nice thought. But Broner is not a great defensive fighter. And Saul “Canelo’’ Alvarez, the WBC 154-pound world champion, brought more power to the ring, and more speed, than Maidana and he couldn’t touch Mayweather.
On a business side, Mayweather-Maidana won’t even get close to the bonanza that Mayweather-Alvarez was. That fight did 2 million pay-per-view buys and grossed $150 million, making it the highest-grossing pay-per-view boxing match in history. Mayweather-Maidana will be lucky to crack the 1 million pay-per-view mark.
Khan might have been a better choice from a pure boxing standpoint. And in a poll that Mayweather conducted on his own website asking fans to vote for either Khan or Maidana as his next opponent, Khan won the polling. But it was a suspect poll because only fans that were on Twitter or had Facebook were allowed to vote. Khan has 1.4 million Twitter followers. On polls conducted on three other websites that was open to all voters, Maidana won. Mayweather said he yielded to the dictates of those fans who voted for Maidana.
Monday’s announcement that Mayweather had selected Maidana must have been a bitter disappointment for Khan, who defeated Maidana in 2010.
Khan tweeted as much when he pulled himself from consideration via Twitter last Friday.
"No response from Mayweather or his team," Khan tweeted. "Fights not happening. I should of taken the title fight last December against Alexander. Very disrespected by (Mayweather's) team. Wasted my time. Good luck to Maidana against Mayweather. Can I apologize to the thousands of people who are let down. You me and everyone wanted the Mayweather fight. He's running scared."
Khan had placed his career on hold for a year waiting for a lucrative, high-profile match against Mayweather. Now Khan is left holding the bag as Mayweather has moved on to another big-money score against an opponent who won’t give him a minute’s trouble on May 3.