Floyd Mayweather Jr. has said it many times — he has earned the right to pick his opponent and where he wants to fight.
On Saturday, Mayweather showed up for a news conference at the MGM Grand, fashionably late of course, to explain why Marcos Maidana is his opponent instead of Amir Kahn on May 3 at the MGM Grand Garden. The welterweight title fight will be shown on Showtime Pay Per View.
“He’s a tough fighter; he brings it,” Mayweather said of Maidana (35-3, 31 knockouts). “Against Adrien Broner, Maidana went out there and looked tremendous. Look at Maidana’s last four fights compared to Khan’s last four fights. Maidana’s got three knockouts and four wins. He’s the better fighter.”
Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) said if Khan has a problem with that, so be it.
“For the record, Floyd Mayweather is scared of no one,” Mayweather said. “I don’t duck anyone. I pick and choose who I want to fight. Nobody forces anyone to watch.”
Maidana, who didn’t attend Saturday’s news conference, was impressive in beating Broner by unanimous decision in San Antonio on Dec. 14 to win the World Boxing Association welterweight title. But he’ll have to be even better to beat Mayweather, boxing’s pound-for-pound king and the World Boxing Council champion at 147 pounds.
“Chino Maidana earned this fight,” said Maidana’s trainer, Robert Garcia. “Mayweather is boxing, but Chino is going to come out and do his best and give the fans a great fight and come out with a win.”
Tickets for the fight went on sale Saturday morning, and within two hours 14,700 of the available 16,000 were gone. Richard Sturm, president of sports and entertainment for MGM Resorts International, said Mayweather’s star power has a major impact in the Las Vegas Valley.
“All of the events we do at the MGM are important to us, but when Floyd fights here, he creates an electricity that’s different,” Sturm said.
The MGM had competition for this fight from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. But Sturm said he was confident the hotel’s relationship with Mayweather would work to the MGM’s advantage.
“I don’t think there’s any place in the world that has the cachet Las Vegas has,” Sturm said. “Big fights do well in Las Vegas, and I don’t think you can duplicate the infrastructure we have here.”
Mayweather began training Monday and sparred three times. The fight will be his first since he won a majority decision over Canelo Alvarez on Sept. 14 at the Grand Garden.
“I was shocked when I went to the gym and saw how sharp I was,” Mayweather said. “I was impressed. I’m happy, but I can do better.”
Mayweather doesn’t like to make comparisons, saying each fight stands on its own and each fighter is different. But he will be prepared to engage with the hard-hitting, volume-punching Maidana if necessary.
“I feel like I got a good chin,” Mayweather said. “But I don’t want to get hit on the chin.”
At age 37, Mayweather continues to perform at the highest level. He said 2013 was arguably the best year of his career, as he defeated Robert Guerrero in May and Alvarez with little difficulty while earning approximately $80 million.
“Last year was a great year, a tremendous year,” Mayweather said. “But I haven’t reached my highest peak yet.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.