Floyd Mayweather, the undisputed top pound-for-pound fighter in boxing, will defend his WBC welterweight title against WBA titleholder Marcos Maidana on May 3. The fight, announced by Mayweather on Twitter Monday, will be televised by Showtime Pay-Per-View.
Mayweather is coming off a decisive win over 154-pound champion Saul Alvarez last September and has been weighing two possible options for his next fight: Maidana and Amir Khan, a former unified junior welterweight titleholder. Last December, Khan was believed to be a strong favorite to land the fight. Khan had pulled out of a proposed 147-pound title fight against Devon Alexander and talks between Mayweather and Khan's camp had progressed to the point that multiple sources close to the negotiations believed it to be a done deal.
The landscape changed on Dec. 14, when Maidana (35-3) defeated highly touted -- and immensely popular -- titleholder Adrien Broner. Maidana's performance against Broner, which drew 1.3 million viewers, the third largest audience on record for a fight on Showtime, thrust him into the potential pool of opponents for Mayweather. And after two months of negotiating -- which included Mayweather posting a poll on his website asking fans who he should fight next -- Maidana was selected.
When asked if Mayweather (45-0) would be preparing to fight Khan had Maidana not beaten Broner, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer told SI.com, "I would say yes."
With Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley unavailable -- both are promoted by Top Rank, the promotional company Mayweather has refused to do business with -- Maidana possesses the strongest résumé of any available contender. Since losing to Alexander in 2012, Maidana has won four straight fights. He picked up knockout wins over Jesus Soto Karass, Angel Martinez and Josesito Lopez before winning a one-sided decision against Broner. Khan, on the other hand, has lost two of his last four fights, including a knockout loss to junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia.
"Marcos Maidana's last performance immediately brought him to my attention," Mayweather said. "He is an extremely skilled fighter who brings knockout danger to the ring. I think this is a great fight for me and he deserves the opportunity to see if he can do what 45 others have tried to do before him: beat me."
Added Maidana, "I am extremely happy to be facing Floyd Mayweather because it will give me the opportunity to show the world that I am the best welterweight in the division. I just handed a great defensive fighter his first loss and I plan to do the same to Mayweather. I don't care whether he's the best and undefeated. I will bring some real Latino power to him on May 3rd."
While no venue was announced, Mayweather-Maidana is likely headed to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where Mayweather has fought his last eight fights. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn has made a strong pitch to bring a Mayweather fight to New York, but state taxes makes it difficult to compete with Nevada, Mayweather's home state, which levies no income or business tax on fighters.
Schaefer said he hoped to have a venue locked down in the next 24-48 hours.
Schaefer added that Mayweather has informed him he expects strong fights on his undercard. The co-feature to Mayweather's last fight -- an anticipated junior welterweight showdown between Garcia and Lucas Matthysse -- was one of the best pay-per-view undercard fights in history. Schaefer wouldn't speak to specific fights but said Khan, Broner, welterweight titleholder Shawn Porter, welterweight contenders Paulie Malignaggi, Keith Thurman and Luis Collazo, featherweight Abner Mares, junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse and middleweight champion Peter Quillin all are possibilities for the available slots.
As for Khan, Schaefer said he hopes he can put the disappointment of losing out on the Mayweather fight behind him quickly.
"He's obviously very disappointed," Schaefer said. "He was going for the big fish, he had him on the hook and then somehow he jumps off. It looked for a while that Amir was going to get the fight. That doesn't mean Amir is out of the race forever. There are a lot of big names at 140 or 147. It's not like it's the end of everything. It's a little detour."