Tuesday, April 29, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. will not attempt to keep any secrets going into his Saturday bout against Marcos Maidana.
The world’s best pound-for-pound boxer willingly revealed the strategy he’s worked on with his father on a conference call promoting the Maidana fight last week.
“The game plan is to stay in the pocket,” Mayweather said. “Make the guy miss, and make the guy pay.”
Sounds simple enough, but also a tad surprising. Mayweather’s fights are hardly known for turning into slugfests.
The 37-year-old has won titles in five divisions and stayed undefeated in 45 career fights by putting defense first, rarely getting touched while establishing an offense based on counters. Exchanging in the pocket could expose Mayweather to rare punishment.
It could also be the best — or only — route to victory for Maidana who’s known as a heavy-handed puncher.
“That’s obviously his best attribute,” Mayweather said. “But a lot of times when a guy’s swinging a lot of big shots and they’re not landing, you get fatigued like that.”
Maidana’s usually land. In 35 career victories, the Argentinian has 31 knockouts.
It was one of the four nonfinishes that caught Mayweather’s eye, however, and enabled Maidana to get the WBC welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Maidana knocked down Mayweather’s “little brother,” previously undefeated Adrien Broner, twice last December en route to a unanimous-decision victory.
“He roughed up Adrien Broner, and he got the victory so we can’t say what this guy can or can’t do,” Mayweather said. “We cannot overlook the guy. I can’t say he’s going to be an easy fight.”
Mayweather recounted trying to offer advice before the fight, but Broner resisted and asserted that he would be fine. Mayweather felt Broner underestimated Maidana, a mistake he’s not going to make himself.
Mayweather wouldn’t commit to calling Maidana the hardest puncher he’s ever fought, but he didn’t rule it out either.
“You have a rugged guy that comes straight ahead with an attitude of ‘I just don’t care,’” Mayweather said. “He just dethroned one of the top undefeated fighters, so like I said before, it’s a good matchup.”
Unlike Mayweather’s last two opponents — Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Robert Guerrero were a combined 73-1 before the fights — an established blueprint exists on how to get the best of Maidana. The challenger has lost three times, including two of his last eight.
But Mayweather’s camp has its own explanations for the losses. While Mayweather tried to hold off on flat-out accusing Alex Ariza of putting fighters on performance-enhancing drugs, he hinted at it by noting the esteemed trainer was in Amir Khan’s corner when the British boxer defeated Maidana in 2010.
Khan looked stronger than normal in the fight, according to Mayweather. He’s only gone 4-2 since. Mayweather said recent performance played a role in picking to face Maidana over Khan, whom was the other candidate and instead appears on the pay-per-view undercard.
As for Maidana’s last loss, a unanimous-decision setback to Devon Alexander in February 2012, Mayweather’s team believes he shouldn’t have fought to begin with. Maidana was severely ill for days leading up to the fight, according to Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe.
“He was asked to pull out but he refused to,” Ellerbe said. “He’s not one, obviously, to make any excuses but the facts are what the facts are.”
So Mayweather won’t take anything out of the Alexander or Khan fight in his approach for Maidana. He doesn’t feel like he needs to, and hasn’t reviewed video of either fight.
Mayweather’s gotten this far with his own tactics, which he’ll continue to employ regardless of how unordinary they may sound.
“You get hit with big shots sometimes,” Mayweather said. “But any true champion just shakes it off and keeps fighting. That’s just part of the game.”