LAS VEGAS: Floyd Mayweather returns to the ring for the first time since his demolition of Canelo Alvarez seven months ago looking to add another welterweight belt to his list of titles.
The 37-year-old undefeated American will defend his World Boxing Council 147-pound crown tomorrow against the World Boxing Association champ Marcos Maidana in a unification bout at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.
Pound-for-pound king Mayweather said that the key to dethroning the power-punching Maidana is to use his ring smarts to avoid getting hit by the Argentinian’s knockout blow.
“It takes more than just power to beat me,” Mayweather told a news conference at the Hollywood Theatre inside the MGM Grand on Wednesday. “You got to dig deep and be mentally strong, not just physically strong.
“You have never seen me on the canvas and I have been hit by some of the biggest punches.”
Saturday’s fight at the Grand Garden arena will unify Mayweather and Maidana’s 147-pound (67 kg) titles.
It is also the third of the 30-month, six-fight deal worth $200 million-plus that Mayweather signed with Showtime.
In his last fight, Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) became the unified super welterweight world champ by dominating Mexico’s Alvarez on September 14, 2013. Asked if he expects a fight similar to his 2012 decision over the hard-hitting Miguel Cotto, Mayweather said he doesn’t know until he feels Maidana’s punches in the ring.
“I am looking to win,” Mayweather said. “He is going to come straight ahead. Even though he has an 80 percent knockout ratio I can’t say if his punches will be harder than Cotto.”
Maidana (35-3, 31 KOs) will be making the first defence of his belt.
Maidana tried to dispel the belief that he is just another one of Mayweather’s handpicked opponents designed to pad the American’s 18-year-long undefeated record.
“I trained harder for this fight than I ever trained before,” said Maidana, speaking in Spanish. “I earned this opportunity for myself.”
His language got more colourful as he boasted he would be the first to beat Mayweather, energising the news conference as he declared: “Me vale madre! (I don’t give a shit!)”
Mayweather’s focus on the fight hasn’t stopped him from noticing the drama erupting around the Los Angeles Clippers and owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life by the NBA after racist comments Sterling made.
Mayweather said he’s interested in joining the long list of suitors seeking to buy the Clippers. if Sterling is indeed forced to sell. AFP