By Lyle Fitzsimmons
Who knows? Maybe Marcos Maidana can do what 44 other men haven’t done.
Maybe the rugged Argentine will play the same trick on Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May that he did on Adrien Broner in December, introducing him to his power early on in the fight and emerging the winner of almost every significant exchange en route to a jaw-dropping unanimous decision upset.
But a very interested observer – WBO welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley, who shares the 147-pound throne with Mayweather (WBC), Maidana (WBA) and newly minted IBF champ Shawn Porter – isn’t holding his breath for that prohibitive underdog lightning to strike twice.
In fact, he’s so sure of the outcome that he can’t help but repeat himself.
“Hell no,” Bradley said. “No. No. No. No. No. No. I like Maidana. He’s a brawler-type fighter. But listen, when you get in there with Floyd you can’t be sloppy. And there’s times when Maidana gets sloppy. Floyd’s going to make you pay. He’s so smart. He reads you and he’s like 10 steps ahead of you. There’s no way. There’s no way Maidana’s gonna touch Floyd Mayweather.”
Mayweather ended months of speculation via social media on Monday evening, when he disclosed the 30-year-old “El Chino” as winner of the race to accompany him on the marquee for the May 3 Showtime pay-per-view card that will presumably originate from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, though a spokesperson for the cable network said Monday night that the site was not yet decided.
Mayweather hasn’t fought anywhere else since beating Carlos Baldomir at Mandalay Bay in 2006.
Amir Khan was the early front-runner to get the fight and sidestepped a match with then-champ Devon Alexander to stay in line for it, but Bradley doesn’t imagine his fellow former 140-pound belt-holder – or anyone else campaigning within a stone’s throw of welterweight, for that matter – would fare any better against “Money” than recent victims Saul Alvarez, Robert Guerrero or Miguel Cotto.
To push Mayweather, whom Bradley dubbed “the Michael Jordan of boxing,” he insists it’d take a champion with a significantly heavier resume.
“I think (168-pound kingpin) Andre Ward gives him issues,” he said. “If they fought at a lower weight, that fight would be like a chess match. Andre Ward is like Kobe. You got Jordan, you got Kobe and people are all like ‘Who's better?' It depends on how you rank it. Who's got more rings? Well, of course, Mayweather's got more rings. But Andre Ward is right there with him.”
As for a match between Mayweather and himself, Bradley – who’ll face Manny Pacquiao in a big-ticket HBO PPV rematch of their 2012 controversy on April 12 – said the sport’s behind-the-scenes conflicts make it frustratingly unlikely to ever occur.
“I want to fight the best, and right now the best guy in the business is Mayweather,” he said. “I can probably never go and stick the gun up to Bob and say ‘I want that fight.' I'm not going to mess up my business doing a foolish move like that. But Floyd says over and over and over and over, ‘I'm my own boss. I do what I want to do.' If he's his own boss and if he wants the fight, he can make the fight happen. If he wanted to fight me, he could fight me, no problem.
“But if he's not willing to work with my people, then it's not going to happen.”
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This week’s title-fight schedule:
IBO strawweight title – Johannesburg, South Africa
Hekkie Budler (champion) vs. Karluis Diaz (No. 9 contender)
Budler (24-1, 7 KO): Fifth title defense; Held IBO title at 108 (2010-11, one defense)
Diaz (21-4, 14 KO): First title fight; Never won a fight scheduled for 12 rounds (0-4)
Fitzbitz says: “Budler is one of those guys who’s gotten better as champion – especially at a lower weight – and it doesn’t hurt here that he’s fighting a guy who simply doesn’t belong.” Budler by decision
WBO super middleweight title – Magdeburg, Germany
Robert Stieglitz (champion) vs. Arthur Abraham (No. 1 contender)
Stieglitz (46-3, 26 KO): Third title defense; Held WBO title (2009-12, six defenses)
Abraham (38-4, 28 KO): Seventeenth title fight (13-3); Split two fights with Stieglitz in 2012-13
Fitzbitz says: “Steiglitz lost his belt by close decision in their first fight and won it back by TKO just seven months later. It says here that the second result is closer to reality with these guys.” Stieglitz by decision
WBO lightweight title – Glasgow, Scotland
Ricky Burns (champion) vs. Terence Crawford (No. 1 contender)
Burns (36-2-1, 11 KO): Fifth title defense; Held WBO title at 130 (2010-11, three defenses)
Crawford (22-0, 16 KO): First title fight; First fight outside United States
Fitzbitz says: “It’s a long road trip and a genuine step up in class and distance for the unbeaten Top Rank prospect, but he’s still does everything the Scotsman does, only better.” Crawford by decision
WBO featherweight title – San Antonio, Texas
Orlando Salido (champion) vs. Vasyl Lomachenko (No. 5 contender)
Salido (40-12-2, 28 KO): First title defense; Held IBF and WBO titles (2010/2011-13, two defenses)
Lomachenko (1-0, 1 KO): First title fight; First fight scheduled for 12 rounds
Fitzbitz says: “It’s hard not to be fascinated by the respected veteran champion facing the comparative upstart so soon in his career, and Lomachenko should prove he’s the real deal.” Lomachenko in 9
Last week's picks: 1-0
2014 picks record: 8-2 (80.0 percent)
Overall picks record: 555-196 (73.9 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder - no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.