LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather Jr. came to sell his May 3 welterweight title fight at MGM Grand on Saturday, hyping the idea his opponent, Marcos Maidana, has a chance to stain Mayweather’s spotless 45-0 record.
“You can’t take any fighter for granted, anything can happen,” Mayweather said. “… This guy is tailor-made to make a war.”
If that’s not enough reason to know his confidence is brimming despite Maidana’s impressive 2013 knockouts of Josesito Lopez and Adrien Broner, checking in with Mayweather’s close friend and assistant trainer Nate Jones seals the deal about the fast-moving defensive wizard.
“He looks so good,” said Jones, who was in Mayweather’s Las Vegas gym this week as the boxer began training. “It’s going to be a boxing exhibition. [Maidana] will never find him. And Floyd may get him [by knockout].”
Fight promoter Richard Schaefer said more than 14,700 tickets were sold Saturday as sales began at 10 a.m. Schaefer said there’s more than $12 million in the bank, with the potential to reach $15 million in sales.
Mayweather is coming off what he said was his sharpest year in his career, as he routed Robert Guerrero and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in unanimous-decision victories and was named the Boxing Writers Assn. of America fighter of the year.
The 37-year-old joked he’s getting better with age. “I’m like Benjamin Button,” he said. … “It’s like a sixth sense, I can do certain things to burn a fighter. It comes with experience.”
For months, it appeared Mayweather was going to select England’s Amir Khan as his opponent, but then Maidana knocked out Broner and a series of events inspired a change.
“Look at his last four fights [three knockouts, two knockdowns in the Broner decision] and look at Khan’s last four fights [two losses],” Mayweather said. “I had to go with the best choice.
"He’s made a big impact on the sport of boxing in his last fight. He hits with both hands. He looked tremendous [against Broner].
“We weren’t impressed with that [about Khan].”
The 30-year-old Maidana (35-3, 31 knockouts) missed the news conference to be with his wife, who’s expecting to deliver a baby soon, but his trainer, Robert Garcia, of Oxnard appeared.
“Nobody has the blueprint, but we’ll give it our best,” Garcia said.
Along with Garcia came Brandon Rios, who lost a decision to Manny Pacquiao in November. Mayweather spotted Rios, inspiring the day’s only mention of the fighter long linked but never agreed upon as Mayweather’s opponent.
“Don’t worry about Pacquiao,” Mayweather told Rios. “That’s a minor setback for a major comeback.”
With three fights left on his Showtime contract, Mayweather’s September date might be the most optimal time to finally make the fight that has eluded him for so long, if Pacquiao can beat Timothy Bradley on April 12.
Mayweather alluded to the juice he has in calling his own opponents as the world’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter.
Since 2007, that has meant selecting an opponent promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
“Floyd Mayweather’s not scared of any opponent, I’ve earned my stripes and fight who I want to fight,” Mayweather said. “Nobody is forced to watch.”
Mayweather’s advisor Leonard Ellerbe said, “We’re fighting the biggest fights out there. Floyd’s made it very clear about what that is. We don’t know what we’re doing in September. We’re focused on May 3. How can you get to September without getting past May 3?"
Showtime Vice President Stephen Espinoza said Mayweather has “expressed reservations about fighting a Top Rank fighter,” Pacquiao’s promoter, but going outside of Golden Boy to someone like [Miguel] Cotto, [Sergio] Martinez is not a problem.”
Those two fight in June.
As for Maidana, Showtime’s Espinoza said he expects the bout to draw more pay-per-view buys than Guerrero after the Alvarez fight generated a record $150 million in sales.
“People didn’t believe there was a level of risk with Guerrero,” Espinoza said. “We only have to look to December with Maidana to see his punching power is a threat.
“And with a real threat, there’s real risk that makes people tune in.”
Don’t they say that before every Mayweather fight?
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