Friday, May 2, 2014 | 2 a.m.
The promoters and executives of Saturday night’s Floyd Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana event have repeatedly referred to the pay-per-view preliminary bouts as “the most expensive undercard in boxing history.”
It’s a tough claim to confirm but even more difficult to doubt. Boxing isn’t known for wasting its stars on a single night, which is why the card slated for the MGM Grand and dubbed “The Moment” stands out.
Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather Promotions wanted to do something different and bulk up the support. An initial plan, partially commissioned by Mayweather himself, called for top welterweights Amir Khan and Arien Broner to face off against each other.
When Khan vs. Broner — which could potentially headline a pay-per-view on its own merits — fell through, organizers still managed to keep both of them on the card by finding other adequate matchups. They topped off the pay-per-view portion of the event with a fourth bout between two recognizable fighters, both of whom are on the rise.
“It really isn’t an undercard,” Richard Schaefer, Golden Boy Promotions CEO, said at a press conference Thursday. “It’s really an accumulation of three main events underneath the Super Bowl of boxing.”
Look below for a preview of each of the three fights preceding Mayweather vs. Maidana on “The Moment” undercard.
Amir Khan (28-3) vs. Luis Collazo (35-5)
The odds: Khan minus-250, Collazo plus-200
Khan already suffered two bitter defeats ahead of Saturday’s card.
Neither happened in the ring. Before a potential mega undercard fight with Broner fell through, Khan lost an opportunity to challenge Mayweather.
The 27-year-old British star was regarded as the heavy favorite to land the spot everyone in boxing craves opposite Mayweather until the champion surprised by reversing course to pick Maidana. Having beaten Maidana in a headliner at the Mandalay Bay Events Center less than four years ago, Khan could understandably feel slighted.
“I would have loved to fight Floyd Mayweather, but I believe maybe it’s for the best,” Khan said. “It gives me a few fights at this weight class to get my feet wet first.”
Unless the more-than-capable Collazo knocks Khan off his feet. The 33-year-old veteran from Brooklyn, N.Y., has the ability.
He’s riding a four-fight win streak into his welterweight debut at “The Moment,” including an upset of Victor Ortiz via second-round knockout in January. Three of Collazo’s five career losses came against decorated champions in Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton and Andre Berto.
Khan needed a viable contender because the consensus remains he’s next for Mayweather with another victory. Collazo fits the bill.
“People say I’m looking past Collazo and looking to a Mayweather fight or whatever opponents,” Khan said. “I’m not looking past this fight because this is a big fight for me. If I lose this fight, then I’m not getting the Mayweather fight.”
Adrien Broner (27-1) vs. Carlos Molina (17-1-1)
The odds: Broner minus-2500, Molina plus-1000
“The Problem” fancies himself an entertainer as much as a fighter.
He put on the usual show at the press conference, tiptoeing to the podium before whispering the usual fighter platitudes into the microphone. Anyone who’s the least bit familiar with the 24-year old welterweight from Cincinnati knew it wouldn’t last.
“Get the hell out of here,” Broner raised his voice. “If y’all thought a loss was going to put me in my place, then y’all can stick that right up your (expletive). I come to do damage, man. I’m punching with bad intentions. I’m back.”
No one doubts Broner has the charisma to someday reach the status he desperately craves as Mayweather’s replacement as boxing’s biggest draw. But suddenly there are questions about his fighting ability as Maidana snapped Broner’s undefeated record with a stunning unanimous-decision win last December in San Antonio.
Broner ridicules such concerns.
“You put Carlos Molina in front of me,” Broner said. “That’s kind of disrespectful to me. I’m going to make an example out of this (expletive). He’s talking about he’s going for broke. (Expletive), ain’t he already broke? He’s maintaining. He’s getting the biggest payday he’s ever got and he’s about to get his (expletive) whooped. AB is still AB — about billions.”
Broner can’t fathom any fewer people wanting to watch him fight after a single loss, and he’s probably right. The Maidana loss will wither into a distant memory if he can bounce back with a couple of wins.
There’s real trouble if he slips against the 28-year-old Molina, though. Broner’s profile alone puts him on another level than Molina, whose only major fight ended in a 10th-round TKO loss to Khan in December 2012.
J’Leon Love (16-0) vs. Marco Periban (20-1)
The odds: Love minus-135, Periban minus-105
Mayweather likes to say that closely behind ensuring his legacy as the best fighter ever, his other current priority is improving the future of boxing.
Labeling future stars of the sport comes with that responsibility. Mayweather mentions the 26-year-old Love right with his “little brother” Broner and former foe Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in the group that could ascend to the throne.
Because Love is signed to Mayweather Promotions, some write off the champion’s hype as biased. That could be true to an extent, but Mayweather has several fighters signed under his banner.
To keep coming back to Love so often, Mayweather must see something in him. Now it’s time for Love to show everyone else, as the winner of this fight could make for a super-middleweight top contender.
Periban is just two fights removed from challenging for the WBC belt and losing via majority decision to champion Sakio Bika. Love remains unbeaten, but his past appearance on a Mayweather undercard might as well have been a defeat.
The vast majority of media scores had Gabriel Rosado beating Love on this same weekend a year ago, when Mayweather defeated Robert Guerrero, but the judges sided with the local. Love pulled out a controversial split-decision win; however, it was later overturned to a no contest when he failed a post-fight drug test.
Love served a seven-month suspension and drew the scorn of his mentor, Mayweather. He bounced back with a sixth-round knockout of an overmatched Lajuan Simon last December, but the whole episode puts a bigger onus on Love this time around.
“I’m looking to put on a good performance and let you know I’m the future of this sport,” he said.