Marcos Maidana believes he can settle the increasingly hostile dispute between boxing's leading factions.
The Argentinean power puncher will face Floyd Mayweather at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 3 and has been the unwitting fall guy in an acrimonious battle involving the sport's two biggest promoters, its most important networks and its highest-profile fighters.
Top Rank chief Bob Arum blasted the Mayweather camp and its broadcast ally Showtime last week in a vitriolic rant in which he accused the pound-for-pound king of cherry-picking weak opposition instead of squaring off with Manny Pacquiao.
While Arum's method of delivery came under scrutiny – he repeatedly used the term "thug" to refer to the Mayweather crew and urged fans to boycott the broadcast – Maidana was caught along in the crossfire of the 82-year-old's rant, which attempted to minimise his credentials as a legitimate opponent.
Although few give Maidana a chance to win, he believes he can settle the argument of whether Mayweather is picking opponents of sufficient quality.
"It doesn't frighten me what Bob Arum has to say," Maidana said during a conference call on Wednesday. "A lot of times I have been the underdog and won fights. Bob Arum should know better than that.
"He is just trying to prevent us from having a great night and a great pay-per-view. I am training to beat Floyd Mayweather and after I do that no one will be saying that he takes easy fights anymore."
Maidana is a 7-to-1 underdog and has three blemishes on his career record, having lost to Devon Alexander, Amir Khan and Andreas Kotelnik. However, his recent performances have been impressive, most notably when handing a boxing lesson to previously undefeated Adrien Broner at the Alamodome last December to claim the WBA welterweight title.
Mayweather supporters insist Maidana is a genuinely challenging opponent, pointing to the spectacular punching power that has given him 31 knockouts in his 35 victories.
"We know we are in a tough fight," said Mayweather's advisor Leonard Ellerbe. "When [Maidana] hits guys, they fall."
Ellerbe was impressed by what he saw when taking time out to visit Maidana's training camp this week and was adamant that Mayweather would not be taking him lightly.
He was less enthused by Arum's remarks after Pacquiao's victory over Timothy Bradley on Saturday, and the growing rift between Arum's Top Rank (backed by HBO) and the Mayweather/Golden Boy Promotions collaboration means any chance of the bout all of boxing wants to see is still unlikely.
"I don't think about a damn thing that comes out of [Arum's] mouth," Ellerbe said when asked for a response. "Everything that comes out of Bob Arum's mouth is a lie."
Golden Boy boss Oscar De La Hoya had an interesting spin on the saga, insisting that Arum's rant was fueled by the concern that Mayweather-Maidana would turn into a classic contest that would vastly overshadow Top Rank's Pacquiao promotion from last week.
"It is reverse psychology from Bob," De La Hoya said. "Maybe what he really feels is that Maidana is going to beat Mayweather and he is trying to get people away from what will be a great fight."
That approach seemed like a bit of a stretch, to say the least, and Arum would surely contest the interpretation.
But, then again, boxing's powerbrokers don't seem to agree on much these days, and each faction remains steadfastly tied to its own corner.
The Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown the sport has long craved is still dead in the water, but a great performance from Maidana on May 3 would at least give the sport's blowhards something new to talk about.
- Sports & Recreation
- Floyd Mayweather
- Marcos Maidana
- Bob Arum
- Manny Pacquiao