Where will you be…..when the “moment” comes? For the past 8 weeks, fight fans around the globe have been asked this question. Where each of us may be is a pretty intriguing slogan; but a better question would be what can fans expect when that “moment” finally arrives? Will this moment be one in the same with every other Floyd Mayweather fight of the past? Will it be that proverbial “shot heard around the world”, finally removing the layer of invincibility that has surrounding Mayweather for so long? Will it be the foul stench of controversy that often rears its ugly head in boxing after a potential bad decision surfaces? Each of these questions remain to be seen.
In just a few hours, all questions will be answered, yet if the past any indication, on the heels of a recent Pacquiao victory, perhaps those answers could lead to more questions. With an angle for the future already in the back of our collective minds, we narrow things down for tonight’s event by taking a look at each man’s “Keys to Victory”, “Four to Explore”, and in the end, a “Final Prediction”:
FLOYD MAYWEATHER: KEYS TO VICTORY
For Floyd Mayweather, keys to victory may be a bit more complex than normal. At age 37, taming a bull in the likes of Maidana is no easy task. Based on this truth, Mayweather will need to exercise an angle that he’s always found a way to exercise in the past: control the pace! Mayweather is a master-of-ceremony, as it relates to being able to control his opponents. Everything from space, to punch rate, and beyond. His stronghold on tempo typically earns him a points victory on the cards. In this fight, Mayweather will be facing a young power puncher who averages high volumes of punches per round. An inability to avoid them could spell trouble. Mayweather will need to use his jab consistently and setup his offense with traps and speed. If he sticks to the basics without letting his recently wavering emotional state get the best of him, it’s his fight to lose.
MARCOS MAIDANA: KEYS TO VICTORY
For Maidana, there are several things he’ll need to have in place to shock the world tonight, but none bigger than the fearless heart we’ve seen him display in the past! Many Mayweather opponents enter the ring gun-shy and timid, knowing that they’re standing across from a man who has shown few flaws. For Maidana, the same relentless approach we’ve seen in the past will be the initiation point of any success he can mount. A relentless approach, coupled with intelligence, and led by a jab will create his best shot at victory. Under Robert Garcia, Maidana has established a solid double and triple jab, which he actually used as a decoy to set traps that led to early knockdowns against Broner. Mayweather is much smarter, but if Maidana can vary his shot selection and create confusion, his power could make for an interesting night which could lead to a shocker.
FOUR TO EXPLORE – CRITICAL GAME-CHANGERS TO WATCH
(PUMP UP THE VOLUME): Statistics provide an angle at solving the “May-Vinci Code”. 45 have tried and 45 have failed, but if he’s smart, #46 will press for 50. Statistics reveal that Floyd Mayweather has his toughest time with fighters who throw more than 50 punches per round, and each time a fighter does that, they land 10 on average. Miguel Cotto had the best recent success we’ve seen against Mayweather. The closer he got to 50 punches thrown per round, the more he landed, with a 23% connect rate and above. The irony here is not only about sustained activity, but also the fact that Mayweather threw more punches to compensate, which left him open for punishment – explaining the bloody nose from powershots taken. Maidana averages more than 700 punches per fight, and at times, over 60 per round. How equipped is Mayweather to handle this at age 37?
(RISK TAKER/DEAL BREAKER): Many say Maidana has no shot, because he lost to Amir Khan, among others. As the old adage has it, styles make fights. Although Mayweather is perceived to be the better fighter, men like Khan and Alexander throw a lot more punches, and are typically more prone to stand in the pocket and mix it up. Each opponent who has endured that risk and landed enough return fire to frequently pause Maidana found that to be the blueprint necessary to defeat him. Will Mayweather be bold enough to stand in the pocket with a powerful volume puncher for 12rds? The past says this is what he needs to do for a victory. It also tells us the answer to that question could be a resounding “NO”. What will give in the end?
(THE FISH BOWL): Marcos Maidana has had a few fights with a decent crowd, but none like the one he can expect when the two square off this evening! Most say they’re “ready” for this moment, but the visual aid of seeing him cautiously smiling before breaking back into a stone face amidst the screaming crowd at the weigh-in tells me he understands that this is in fact a different world. Execution is critical against Mayweather. And one can’t execute on this grand stage if they’re too trapped in the moment. Can Maidana rise above the “fish bowl” to finally breath again? Or will the deafening buzz of Las Vegas’ MGM Grand drown him and his chances to find victory out?
(MIND PLAYIN’ TRICKS?): Doesn’t take a genius to realize that the last few weeks have been an emotional roller-coaster for Floyd Mayweather. Talks about purchasing the Los Angeles Clippers hold very little space in a mind filled with a love lost who’s apparently found her new boss! Even for arguably the best tactician the ring has seen, executing to perfection is no easy task; and on the heels of a tumultuous week that saw him nearly break down at the podium, one can only wonder whether or not Mayweather is truly prepared for this moment? Fortunately for him, there lies his strength! These type of questions have always served as fuel for Mayweather. With the finish line in sight, tonight will be another step closer to actually crossing it….but does he have enough “fuel” left in the tank to get there? Stay tuned!
A few years ago, this fight would easily justify the 12-1 odds that currently loom over the city. Today….not quite so! Coming in, everyone seems to apply a blanket logic that presents a strong case for a man who has been perfect in the pass. The old adage says that “all good things must come to an end”. When we think about that adage, and parallel those words next to a promotional banner that tells us this is “The Moment”, suddenly, out of thin air, a once simplified plot has thickened. At age 37 and facing the “west side” of his sun-setting career, you can’t help but question whether or not Mayweather can find that magic touch one more time? Or has the time for that magic simply run out?
Moments after the weigh-in, one source sent a paraphrased text message yesterday that said “Right now he’s dealing with some life circumstances and he’s a bit on edge. I can’t deny that. But the worst thing that could have happened is that tomorrow night he gets to take that all out on someone without worrying about the law coming after him. That’s a dangerous thing!” Truth of the matter, it is a dangerous thing. But one has to question exactly who it’s dangerous for, until the final bell rings. Is it dangerous for Mayweather, as he contends with countless distractions? Or is it dangerous for his opponent who he very well could take out on? All it takes is one thunderous shot to steal the headlines. Trouble is, I don’t see that ‘card’ anywhere in the palm of this “ace” of spades!
(FLOYD MAYWEATHER: TKO 12 – UPSET BAROMETER PEAKS AT A 4 of 5 – MAIDANA’S PUNCHERS CHANCE COULD COME INTO PLAY LATE)
(LUIS COLLAZO: TKO 10 – UPSET BAROMETER PEAKS AT 5 OF 5 – KHAN HAS THE SKILL, BUT WILL NOT SEAL THE DEAL)
(ADRIEN BRONER: UD – UPSET BAROMETER PEAKS AT 4 OF 5 – BRONER WILL EARN THE ONLY QUESTIONABLE DECISION OF NIGHT)