by Rick Reeno
Kevin Cunningham, trainer of former two-division champion Devon Alexander, says WBA king Marcos Maidana earned the opportunity to face WBC counterpart Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a unification showdown on May 3rd, likely at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Maidana, along with former champion Amir Khan, were the two frontrunners being considered for the Mayweather date.
Even prior to Mayweather officially selecting Maidana as the opponent for May, Khan was openly complaining that Mayweather made him waste his time by making it appear that a deal was coming. Khan claims to have signed a contract for the fight in December and beat Maidana in an official poll, which Mayweather's company put together to allow the fans to select the pound-for-pound king's next opponent. Khan has been inactive since last April's tough win over Julio Diaz.
Cunningham has no sympathy for Khan, because Alexander spent several months of 2013 waiting for a deal to get reached with Khan for a December fight. Khan passed on the opportunity to face Alexander, who at the time was the IBF champion, to pursue the opportunity with Mayweather. Alexander instead fought Shawn Porter, who secured an upset decision to claim the belt.
"I think Maidana earned the Mayweather fight more so than Amir Khan. What has Amir Khan done to deserve the Mayweather fight? He beat that little lightweight kid Carlos Molina, who had 16 fights, and then fought old washed-up Julio Diaz. That shouldn't earn you a Mayweather fight. I think the right guy got the fight," Cunningham told BoxingScene.com.
"Maidana went in and beat a guy that everybody was comparing to Mayweather, [Broner] has the closest style to Mayweather. He earned it and that's the way a fight should be made. A guy should earn it, not give it to a guy who hasn't done sh*t because he's popular in another country, but he hasn't done sh*t to earn it. Khan thinks he's entitled to the fight, and Maidana did it the old fashioned way and fought one guy after another to earn the fight."
Alexander was the last man to defeat Maidana, and the fight was a one-sided ten round decision in 2012. Since that loss, Maidana hired trainer Robert Garcia and later retained the services of strength/conditioning coach Alex Ariza. Maidana is riding a four fight win streak, with last December's statement making decision victory over previously undefeated Adrien Broner.
Despite his belief that Maidana fully earned the Mayweather opportunity, Cunningham doesn't see any vast improvement in Maidana's in-ring abilities and expects Mayweather to win.
"He's got a puncher's chance, but that's about it," Cunningham said.
"I ain't seen no improvement [in Maidana], not really. He's a good, tough rugged fighter and he's the same good, tough rugged fighter that I've always seen. Broner fought the wrong fight. It was more so of Broner not using all of his skill, talent and abilities in that fight. That's what happened in that fight, more so than what Maidana did or any improvements made in Maidana. I think Broner didn't use all of the tools in his toolbox when he fought that fight."