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 crown on Saturday against the World Boxing Association champion Marcos Maidana in a unification bout at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Pound-for-pound king Mayweather says 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,” said Mayweather told a news conference 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 MGM Grand Garden arena will unify Mayweather and Maidana’s 67kg titles.
It is also the third of the 30-month, six-fight deal worth $US200 million-plus that Mayweather signed with Showtime.
In his last fight, Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) became the unified super welterweight world champion 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.”
The 30-year-old Maidana (35-3, 31 KOs) will be making the first defence of his belt.
Maidana used the news conference to try and 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.”
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 to his girlfriend were made public.
Mayweather says he’s interested in joining the long list of suitors seeking to buy the Clippers if Sterling is indeed forced to sell but only if he gets a sizeable share in a consortium.
Mayweather says he often accepts invitations from Sterling to attend Clipper games and sits next to the owner. He says he has never seen the side of Sterling that was featured in the audio tape, telling his girlfriend “don’t bring blacks” to his games.
“I don’t have anything negative to say about the guy,” Mayweather told a Las Vegas newspaper. “He has always treated me with the utmost respect and he has always invited me to games, and he said, ‘Floyd, I want you to sit next to me and my wife,’.”