If you haven't heard, Marcos
Maidana, who faces Floyd Mayweather this Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las
Vegas, is a heavy underdog. Some books have “Money” as high as a 14-1 favorite.
Is that reflective of Mayweather’s superlative skills of Mayweather or Maidana’s
limitations? And is this number from the oddsmakers - who, again, are the real
experts - indicative of the type of competition we'll see between the two?
Many are taking this as an
indictment of Maidana but ask yourself this: Other than Manny Pacquiao (who is
on the other side of the current “Cold War” that plagues boxing), or bigger men
like Gennady Golovkin, how many fighters wouldn't be such prohibitive underdogs
You keep hearing the
comparisons of Maidana to Carlos Baldomir, largely based on the fact that both
are Argentines. But this rather lazy narrative is not only an insult to “Chino”
but is simply untrue. For the most part, Baldomir was a career journeyman who
rose to prominence largely on one night against the perennially inconsistent
Zab Judah for the recognized welterweight title. This victory was enough for
him to parlay this into an eventual payday versus the undersized Arturo Gatti
and a cash-out versus Mayweather, basically ending his relevancy at the
Maidana, on the other hand,
has always been on a higher plateau than Baldomir. Who can forget his Stateside
debut when he was brought in as the B-side to the heavily-hyped Victor Ortiz at
the Staples Center five years ago? Having to get off the canvas a couple of
times, he was the first to expose the front-running tendencies of Ortiz and
out-tough him on his way to a memorable sixth round TKO. From that point on,
Maidana - for whatever limitations he's saddled with - has consistently been
one of the most hardnosed and fan-friendly fighters in the sport. When you see
Maidana, the chances are you're going to see some ol' fashioned fisticuffs and
a real fight. He's as honest a fighter there is in the game today. He has no
real airs or pretenses about him; he's there to knock your block off and he's
not hard to find.
Maidana has a solid set of
victories that includes the names of Ortiz, Victor Cayo, DeMarcus Corley, Erik
Morales, Petr Petrov, Jesus Soto Karass and Josesito Lopez. But he forever
became a fan favorite by delivering a brutal comeuppance to the brash Adrien
Broner last December in San Antonio, which wasn't just so much a victory for
him but a legion of boxing fans who wanted “The Problem” solved, embarrassed
and taken down a few notches. It made Maidana a heroic figure.
And in many ways, it was how
he leap-frogged Amir Khan in the Mayweather sweepstakes while Khan was putting
himself on the sidelines and bypassing matches against the declining Devon
Alexander. Meanwhile, Maidana did what many fans yearn for: he actually went
out and stated his case inside the ring. While Khan was hoping his
marketability and the lucrative foreign rights in the U.K. would be enough to
get him this opportunity, Maidana just went out and punched out the likes of
Lopez and Broner in entertaining affairs. Fighters fight and Maidana did just
that. It's why he's on the main event and why Khan is relegated to facing Luis
Collazo on the undercard.
But there is a reason why no
one outside of Buenos Aires or Oxnard are giving him much of a chance this
weekend. Because for all his wins, what stands out are the three blemishes in
his career: Andriy Kotelnik, Amir Khan and Devon Alexander. This trio was able
to outbox and outmaneuver Maidana, who's as heavy-footed as he is heavy-handed.
Last week, this scribe believed John Molina had a legitimate “puncher’s chance”
against Lucas Matthysse. Perhaps, Maidana does too but not all “puncher’s
chances” are not created equal. Molina was facing a fighter who was coming off
a loss and perhaps had some lingering self-doubts. Also, by nature, “The
Machine” likes to mix it up and his style was conducive for Molina to touch him
up a bit. In this case, Maidana is facing one of the most elusive and slippery
boxers in the history of the sport.
There is a chance that
Mayweather puts on another display of master-class boxing and shuts out Maidana
over 12 rounds. But you get the sense that unlike a Victor Ortiz or Robert
Guerrero, there will be no meltdown or capitulation from Maidana. He might lose
all 36 minutes of this fight but he'll never stop fighting.
Yeah, I get it, to see a guy
“try” for 12 rounds - while you fork out over $70 – might not float your boat.
And there is a plenty of backlash and derision over this fight and Maidana as
the dance partner but that seems unfair. By all accounts, Maidana has done what
should be reasonably expected of him to get his number called. Perhaps his
biggest crime is that he isn't Pacquiao and is caught in the crossfire from
fans who are frustrated by the inability (or is it unwillingness?) of
Mayweather and Pacquiao to ultimately face each other.
Yeah, there's no doubt
Maidana is a longshot.
But it's also a (long)shot
he rightfully deserves.
It has to be noted that under
trainer Robert Garcia, Maidana is undefeated and while they haven't reinvented
the wheel, what is now evident from Maidana is improved balance. On Saturday
night, Maidana will have to pressure from the beginning of the fight (and in an
intelligent manner) and not let up. Again, versus Mayweather that's easier said
“Those that have tried and
come forward, they have failed but the fact is that Floyd has never faced
somebody with the power and the heart, the determination that ‘Chino’ has. This
is a fighter who doesn't worry about anything. He's not worrying about ‘I'm
fighting the best pound-for-pound in the world or the best fighter in history.’
He's not worried about that. He gets ready to fight and do what he does best
and he does it against anybody,” said Garcia on a national media conference
“[Maidana] doesn't have to
be the best in the world. He goes out there just to try to hurt his opponent
and that's what he's training to do. He throws punches from different angles.
He has tremendous power in both hands. Everybody knows that. There is no secret
to that,” continued Garcia. “He doesn't respect whoever is in front of him.
That's one thing that he's going in and not thinking of or not having in mind. ‘I'm
[indiscernible]. I have no chance against him.’ No, he doesn't feel like that.
He feels like he could beat him and anybody else in the ring in front of him.”
Maidana states, “I’m better now that I’m been working with Robert Garcia. I
feel much better. My punches are connecting even stronger now because the
punches are being thrown in a better location and with precision. I feel a lot
better. I feel much, much better now that I've been working with Robert Garcia.”
This man speaks softly and carries a big stick.
“I am a champion and I am ready to fight for my title. Most importantly, I am
preparing to beat Mayweather. The last thing that I'm worried about is my
title. I want to just train and beat Mayweather.”
Here's the latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
Maxboxing Live: The Next Round Episode 478 "The
The IBF has ruled that the winner of the June 21st bout between
Anatoliy Dudchenko and Nadjib Mohammedi will be mandated to face its beltholder,
Bernard Hopkins...I'm picking Luis Collazo in an upset special over Amir
Khan...Karim Mayfield is no longer with Top Rank Promotions...Floyd Mayweather
says he's interested in buying the Clippers. Uh, let's see him do a bit more
with Philthy Rich Records first...Speaking of which, Donald Sterling, Adrien
Broner and Paulie Malignaggi would have one interesting discussion about “sidepieces,”
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