There aren’t many out there who believe that Marcos Maidana has any chance this Saturday night when he meets Floyd Mayweather, Jr. for all the marbles and a whole lot more at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. But “there is a reason why they fight the fights” as the old saying goes and at times such as these I always remember what Larry Merchant once said; “There ain’t a horse that can’t be rode or a rider that can’t be throwed.”
If there was ever any fighter in boxing history that was unbeatable at any one point in time it is perhaps Mayweather. Universally regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxer on the face of the planet he is praised by fans, industry types and even other fighters as the best there is right now. Unbeaten in 18 years with a record of 45-0 it is tough to argue with him or anyone that says he is the top dog.
But one thing you must understand about boxing is that just when a fighter appears to be at the point where he is most untouchable is when he is most vulnerable. Boxing history is full of examples of champions that nobody thought could be touched who were then beaten in shocking fashion.
The vicious Sonny Liston was thought of so highly that 51 of 55 sportswriters picked him to demolish the 7-1 underdog Cassius Clay, but Liston was humiliated and quit on his stool. Undefeated George Foreman was thought to be an invincible force before being rope-a-doped and knocked out by Muhammad Ali. Unbeaten Mike Tyson was the baddest man on the planet at precisely the moment that Buster Douglas upset Mike’s apple cart and stopped him in his tracks. Roy Jones, Jr. was fresh off winning a heavyweight title before struggling in his first fight against Antonio Tarver and being knocked out cold in the next.
The point of all this is that no fighter is unbeatable. Only a few have gone through an entire career unbeaten and you have to think “Lady Luck” was smiling down upon those fortunate souls. There is nothing saying that Marcos Maidana is going to pull off the impossible and as a 12-1 betting underdog it is tough to see how he could possibly upset Mayweather this weekend. But stranger things have happened in the past.
Mayweather was recently overheard telling a friend, “I am tired of boxing.” At 37-years-old, having spent his entire life in the fight racket, that would certainly be understandable. Mayweather has never done anything in his life except be a boxer. He has never held a “real” job per se where he was employed or paid by the hour. He must look around and wonder if anyone can seriously challenge him. There must be times when he is bored with running, pounding on sparring partners or answering the same questions over and over again from the same boxing beat reporters. He has been at this thing his entire life and you have to wonder if he ever wonders what it would like to do something different with himself.
Mayweather’s right hand man, Leonard Ellerbe, has said that Marcos Maidana is “different” than anybody Mayweather has ever faced. Perhaps best described as a real-life "gaucho" there is a rawness to Maidana that is tough to describe. He shoots game, dons a cowboy hat and he rides horses on the pampas of his Argentine homeland. A man of few words, he has trained for this opportunity like he has never trained before. Watching him go through his daily routine at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Oxnard, California he has listened to every word from Garcia as well as from strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza and as time has gone by he seems to be more determined. Away from his family in Argentina, and except for a few trusted camp confidantes, Maidana has spent the past several weeks in practical isolation. He has not missed a day of training and the difference in his body is noticeable as he is now a lean, mean fighting machine.
Maidana is powerful and awkward and against Adrian Broner in his most recent bout he was also tireless. It was a massive upset when he sent the undefeated Broner to the floor on two occasions and laid a pretty good beating on him for twelve rounds. Maidana mixes up his attack and alternates between the head and body surprisingly well. He is not without skill. As evidenced in the Broner fight, the overhand right that he throws seems able to get through the type of shoulder roll defense that Mayweather employs. If Maidana can crack that particular code he will be the first.
The odds are long for Maidana. But if boxing history is any guide, and it often is, Mayweather could be there for the taking and we could be looking at another one of those nights where the horse gets rode or the rider gets throwed.