Khan or Maidana?

By Steve Bateson on February 7, 2014
Khan or Maidana?
Khan or Maidana, who will be Floyd Mayweather's opponent on May 3rd?

Who do you think Floyd Mayweather should fight on May 3rd?

According to the man himself there are two names currently in the running for the lucrative opportunity; Britain’s Amir Khan (28-3 with 19 KO’s) or the hammer-fisted Argentinian Marcos Maidana (35-3 with 31 KO’s)

For months it has been speculated that Khan would be the 46th opponent to step in the ring with the man known as “Money” but since Maidana’s shock victory over Adrien Broner (12 round UD) in December it is the man known as “El Chino” who seems to have jumped the queue to headline 2014’s biggest pay per view attraction.

Mayweather has also taken to Twitter to offer his fans a chance to vote on which opponent they would prefer and the general consensus is that Maidana is the much preferred choice, but why?

You can argue for and against both competitors for the reasons why they should be next in line whilst there are others who believe neither is a credible challenge for Mayweather and his All-Time Great status. Whichever side of the fence you fall on, everyone still wants to know what the decision is going to be.

Amir Khan is lightning quick, very fast hands and a good jab that enables him to keep his opponent’s on the back foot whilst he moves in and out with fantastic combination punching. Khan’s speed is the ultimate factor as to why many believe he should be the man to secure the fight, arguing that Mayweather’s most testing contests have been against men who not only matched his agility but perhaps even surpassed it. The first six rounds of the 2006 fight with Zab Judah showed the difficulties Mayweather can have with a quick opponent, is that enough to justify Khan as a choice?

Mayweather went on to dominate Judah from that point on and whilst he may be getting older, his reflexes and hand-speed don’t seem to have depleted enough for Khan to take true advantage of that. There is also the rather big factor in that Amir Khan has a very susceptible jawline and whilst Floyd isn’t known as having “dynamite” in his fists he has enough power to expose the biggest flaw in Khan’s game. Breidis Prescott and Danny Garcia both handed Khan knockout defeats whilst Julio Diaz, many years past his prime, dropped Khan and had him on jelly legs more than once during their battle just twelve months ago.

But Khan’s punch resistance could also play into his hands as far getting the deal goes, it does nothing for his chances of winning, because it is well known that Showtime want Mayweather in exciting fights. Essentially they want their money’s worth for the amount of cash they are handing out to the P4P king. Mayweather doesn’t have a knockout on his record since 2011 and he and his camp may feel that Khan is the perfect opponent to break that streak against.

Khan is a fine fighter, a former light-welterweight world champion, and has beaten plenty of top tier fighters including Paulie Malignaggi (11th round TKO), Zab Judah (5th round KO) and the man who is also in the running for the Mayweather fight, Marcos Maidana (12 round UD) but he has never fought at 147 pounds before and has not stepped foot in the ring with a genuine world class star since his 2012 defeat to Danny Garcia. On these details alone it seems like Mayweather would be taking an easier option if Khan was to be standing on the opposite side of the ring to him on May 3rd.

But then what about Marcos Maidana? The current WBA Welterweight champion wasn’t even on Mayweather’s radar until he battered Adrien Broner in December. It was that one performance, a fine one at that, that raised the Argentinian’s stock to such a height that he is now considered a main contender for the shot at the big-time.

Maidana’s record is an excellent one with victories over Victor Ortiz (6th round TKO), Erik Morales (12 round MD), Josesito Lopez (6th round TKO) and Adrien Broner (12 round UD) but his defeats to Amir Khan, Andriy Kotelnik and Devon Alexander lend weight to the belief that Maidana struggles against a target that moves away from his heavy-hands, refusing to engage him.

That is exactly what Mayweather would do, he is known for it, and many believe he would frustrate Maidana to the point where the bout stopped resembling a fight and looked more like a sparring session. It could be a carbon copy of Mayweather’s last outing with Canelo Alvarez and the paying customers may not be too happy with that because the fans would like to see an opponent who forces Mayweather to put on a performance.

But on the other hand we have to consider Maidana’s toughness and his improvement under Robert Garcia. Whilst he could be considered a come-forward slugger, Maidana has begun to move his head more on approach and his looping hooks (the ones that caused Broner so much trouble) are nowhere near as telegraphed as they once were. Maidana also punches fantastically well to the body and that is the same tactic that caused Mayweather trouble against the great Jose Luis Castillo in 2002. If Maidana can trap Mayweather up on the ropes, similar to what Miguel Cotto did, then it will be interesting to see how well he can force the pace and whether he can pierce through the tight guard of Floyd. Everybody said Adrien Broner would be too defensively cute for Maidana but “Chino” found holes and he bulldozed his way through, could we see something similar?

It is all in hypotheticals and the Maidana fight is one that can swing either way, you either get a one-way boxing masterclass or if Mayweather gets a bit sloppy then Maidana can possibly give him a tough night. The real stumbling block for this fight is Adrien Broner and the fact that he seems to have cashed in his re-match clause with Maidana for a bout in April. Although there is no official confirmation as of yet, if true, it would mean that Maidana has no chance of fighting again in May and the path would be open for Amir Khan.

If I had to throw my hat in the ring I would back Maidana as the opponent as I believe he has more of a chance, although minute, of causing an upset and making Mayweather fight at a much higher pace. Khan has speed and may be tricky to figure out in the early stages but Mayweather would work on him, time his openings, and once the straight right begins to land I can only see a KO victory for “Money” around round 6. I think Maidana would likely go down on the scorecards but there would be one or two shocking moments along the way that make Floyd take his opponent seriously, something I don’t believe he would do against Amir Khan.

If it wasn’t for the political divide between Golden Boy and Top Rank then my preferred choice would have been Timothy Bradley but I would also have liked to see Danny Garcia, Gennady Golovkin and Erislandy Lara in the running for this clash. Many still want to see the Manny Pacquiao fight we should have had on 2009, but the chances on that are slim to none.

Sometimes though in boxing, especially involving Mayweather, it isn’t just about what we want to see, it is about how much money it is going to make. Money talks and for 45 fights before this one…Money wins.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

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  1. The Fight Film Collector 10:12am, 02/12/2014

    Steve, excellent article and analysis.  I’m respectfully going to disagree with you on the last point.  Floyd might be telling himself it’s about the money, but it really isn’t.  With the wealth he has accumulated, another payday won’t change his life in any way or make his future any more secure.  It’s about managing his status, and ultimately his record, which are the two things he won’ be able to control once he stops fighting.  It’s great to speculate about Mayweather’s options, but he’s is utterly predictable at this stage of his career.  Whomever he chooses to fight, it will the opponent he believes will offer him the least resistance, to be held at a venue most favorable to him, and with officials likely to prefer his style of boxing.  Between now and May 3rd, every promotional dollar will be spent to inflate his challenger into a potential threat, so that even in winning, Floyd’s victory might be passed off as more than a mismatch.

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