By Steve Kim
After what seemed like months of waiting, legions of Floyd Mayweather fans and boxing aficionados got an answer as to who the world's most-decorated prizefighter would face in May when he tweeted on Monday: "I will be fighting Marcos Maidana May 3rd on Pay-per-view Showtime/CBS."
In a Showtime press release, Mayweather said, "Marcos Maidana's last performance immediately brought him to my attention. 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."
Late last year it was widely believed that Amir Khan, the talented yet chinny boxer from the United Kingdom, would land this coveted card. Khan even canceled a scheduled bout on Dec. 7 versus IBF welterweight titlist Devon Alexander so as not to risk the Mayweather payday. The waiting game backfired on Khan, who has not fought since April, when he struggled mightily against Julio Diaz.
For all his flaws, Khan made sense on many levels. He has been a consistent presence on HBO and Showtime throughout his up-and-down career. Not only does he speak English, but he could have carried a robust UK television market, which is always key in the pay-per-view business as it relates to revenue.
So, how did Maidana cut in front of Khan in the "Money" sweepstakes?
"Dec. 14 happened," said one boxing insider. That night in San Antonio, Maidana beat the brash Adrien Broner at the Alamodome to earn a WBA welterweight title and become a folk hero among a hardcore fan base yearning for Broner to get his comeuppance.
Maidana is an easy guy to root for. The hard-hitting Argentine brings a fan-friendly style and is a no-frills fighter. What you see is what you get. However, his track record (his professional mark is 35-3, 31 knockouts) tells you that while he's a wrecking ball, he's relatively immobile and has been troubled by movement in the past. His blemishes have come against Andriy Kotelnik, Khan and Devon Alexander -- all three used their mobility to offset Maidana's power.
Yes, Maidana just defeated Broner, but he's going from Faux Mayweather to Floyd Mayweather. The defensive deficiencies he was able to exploit in his last fight likely won't exist against the stealthy Mayweather.
No matter how dominant Mayweather is versus Maidana, there will be a chorus of critics who will state -- perhaps with some legitimacy -- that this was another carefully hand-picked foe who was built to order for Mayweather. Some betting sites have listed Maidana as high as a 10-1 underdog.
This is not a knock on Maidana, who's had a solid professional career, but rather a tribute to the sublime skills of Mayweather, a prohibitive favorite against anyone from 140 to 147 pounds. While Mayweather continues to fulfill his incredibly lucrative six-fight deal with Showtime/CBS, this is also an indictment of the state of the business where Mayweather's greatest threats (Tim Bradley, Manny Pacquiao and Gennady Golovkin) are not in the mix by their mere association with either Top Rank -- a former Mayweather promoter before a nasty, public divorce -- or HBO, which for years broadcasted Mayweather's bouts until he made his move last year to Showtime/CBS.
The bottom line is the world's best boxer isn't willing to do his part to thaw boxing's cold war and will continually face sub-par opponents. And with that, every victory (Maidana would be No. 46) will come with an asterisk.
But, with a reported $30 million guarantee for each outing, does he really care?
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Steve Kim began covering boxing in 1996 and has been writing for Maxboxing.com since 2001. He is also a regular contributor for Boxing News. He can be reached at email@example.com and he tweets (a lot.)