Boxing: Mayweather plans to neutralise Maidana's power

Floyd Mayweather Jr (left) and Marcos Maidana at a news conference at the MGM Grand Hotel on April 30, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. -- PHOTO: AFP
Floyd Mayweather Jr (left) and Marcos Maidana at a news conference at the MGM Grand Hotel on April 30, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. -- PHOTO: AFP

LAS VEGAS (AFP) - Floyd Mayweather returns to the ring for the first time since his demolition of Canelo Alvarez seven months ago looking to add another welterweight belt to his list of titles.

The 37-year-old undefeated American will defend his World Boxing Council 147-pound crown on Saturday against the World Boxing Association champ Marcos Maidana in a unification bout at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.

Pound-for-pound king Mayweather said on Wednesday that the key to dethroning the power-punching Maidana is to use his ring smarts to avoid getting hit by the Argentinian's knockout blow.

"It takes more than just power to beat me," Mayweather told a news conference at the Hollywood Theatre inside the MGM Grand on Wednesday. "You got to dig deep and be mentally strong, not just physically strong.

"You have never seen me on the canvas and I have been hit by some of the biggest punches."

Saturday's fight at the Grand Garden arena will unify Mayweather and Maidana's 67kg titles.

It is also the third of the 30-month, six-fight deal worth over US$200 million (S$251 million) that Mayweather signed with Showtime.

In his last fight, Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) became the unified super welterweight world champ by dominating Mexico's Alvarez on Sept 14, 2013.

Asked if he expects a fight similar to his 2012 decision over the hard-hitting Miguel Cotto, Mayweather said he doesn't know until he feels Maidana's punches in the ring.

"I am looking to win," Mayweather said. "He is going to come straight ahead. Even though he has an 80 per cent knockout ratio I can't say if his punches will be harder than Cotto."

The 30-year-old Maidana (35-3, 31 KOs) will be making the first defence of his belt.

Maidana used the news conference to try and dispel the belief that he is just another one of Mayweather's handpicked opponents designed to pad the American's 18-year-long undefeated record.

"I trained harder for this fight than I ever trained before," said Maidana, speaking in Spanish. "I earned this opportunity for myself."

His language got more colourful as he boasted he would be the first to beat Mayweather, energising the news conference as he declared: "Me vale madre! (I don't give a sh*t!)"

Mayweather's focus on the fight hasn't stopped him from noticing the drama erupting around the Los Angeles Clippers and owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life by the National Basketball Association after racist comments Sterling made to his girlfriend were made public.

Mayweather says he's interested in joining the long list of suitors seeking to buy the Clippers if Sterling is indeed forced to sell.

Mayweather told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he would only do it if he gets a sizeable share in a consortium, "I can't come in here talking about Mayweather only going to get 3 per cent or 4 per cent."

Mayweather says he often accepts invitations from Sterling to attend Clipper games and sits next to the owner. He says he has never seen the side of Sterling that was featured in the audio tape, telling his girlfriend "don't bring blacks" to his games.

"I don't have anything negative to say about the guy," Mayweather said. "He has always treated me with the utmost respect and he has always invited me to games, and he said, 'Floyd, I want you to sit next to me and my wife'," Mayweather told the newspaper.

Saturday's undercard also features British superstar Amir Khan squaring off against American Luis Collazo in a non-title fight that could put Khan in line to fight Mayweather next.