You might not be familiar with the name Daniel Maldonado or have even seen this kid fight yet, but get ready for a show when you witness this boxing, brawling warrior battle it out. The 24-year-old future superstar will be facing Chad Wright this weekend at the Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, and hopes to capitalize on his superior work ethic along with his speed and power. The hard-hitting Maldonado, who normally shoots out one hundred punches per round, won the NABA & WBC Latin American featherweight titles against Whyber Garcia last February when he stopped the Panama born fighter in 2:23 in round nine to get the win by the way of TKO. The 'Kentuckian Killer' started in the sweet science when he was fifteen years old when he received a boxing bag and gloves for Christmas and went on to compete in the amateurs sporting a final record of 52-10 and was a Golden Gloves champion in 1996, 97, 98, 99, ’00 and made it to the nationals in 97, 98, 99, ’00. Daniel works his own roofing business and is happily married with four children and he knows the importance of hard work. That hard work combined with his determination and boxing ability has propelled him to a 16-0 as an professional with eight of those wins coming by way of knockout. In 2000 Maldonado stepped in the pro ranks at the age of twenty to get his first win by stopping Carl Carlson in the opening round and went on to drop five of his victims by knockout within three rounds until he faced then unbeaten Angel Torres. Against Torres he was forced to battle it out until the final bell and got his first call by the judges, winning by unanimous decision. Daniel went on to win once again that same month and continued to stay busy all the way up until he fought and beat Terrell Hargrove in his home state for the Kentucky State Featherweight Title. Maldonado graciously handed out defeats to his opposition and took on the 13-1 Garcia for his titles in a fight which Daniel was expected to lose, but instead the hard-nosed fighter laid his opponent out and took his belts along with the victory. Maldonado battled it out against Terrence Roy earlier this month and Daniel produced a cut over Roy’s eye and got the go ahead on the scorecards when the fight was stopped in the fourth. And this gets us up to date on the featherweight sensation. Will Maldonado continue his quest for glory with another win and remain undefeated? He sure thinks so and the confident fighter is prepared to do so in an entertaining fashion. In this exclusive interview Daniel Maldonado conducted with the Doghouse we get to know the fighter as a boxer and a person. Here is how it went.
Benny Henderson Jr.: At what age did you get into boxing and what prompted you to do so?
Daniel Maldonado: I was fifteen years old and to be honest with you it was fate because there was no boxing around where I was from. I’m from a little country town where we never really done nothing except for fish, hunt and chop down trees and that’s about it. There wasn’t a whole lot going on, I played basketball and everything, I enjoyed those sports but there was always somebody else to blame for the reason we lost the game so I liked an independent sport. My Dad bought me a speed bag and told me to hit it because it would make my hands quicker so I played with that all the time but we never really boxed or anything. Then one year for Christmas I asked for a boxing bag and gloves and February of 1995 I started actually boxing. I found somebody who was training a few Toughman fighters and amateur fighters and I called him up and he told me to come up there and try it out. I ended up sparring with two guys that have been boxing for three or four months and whopped the tar out of them and he was really impressed and from that point on I have been in the game since.
BH: Who were your boxing heroes growing up?
DM: I was an Oscar De La Hoya fan when I was like fifteen years old and I was really impressed with him and looked up to him as an idol. But honestly after his loss to Felix Trinidad the running thing just put me down on him to be honest. From that point on I haven’t really had one. Myself I guess. [Laughs]
BH: Your pro debut was just about four years ago to the day. What was it like to step in the pro ranks and what was running through your mind in the ring entrance?
DM: Well I really didn’t get a lot of training for my first professional fight. I was working on the river at the time and I was working twenty-eight days on and twenty-eight days off. I got a call when I was on the boat and my trainer asked me if I wanted to fight in this amateur fight so I fought that fight and the very next weekend I received a call from a guy and he was like hey I got a pro show up here do you want to come turn pro? I was like yeah I guess I’ll go ahead and try it because I was about done with the amateurs anyway. I have a family so I was like hell it is a payday and everything so I went up there and I was nervous because I have never fought with out head gear and never fought with eight ounce gloves so actually I was really nervous. I didn’t know the guy across the ring, I didn’t know his experience or nothing like that so I was shook. We fought in a horse stable [Laughs] it was basically a horse auction barn. So there was grass on the ground and the smell of horse poop and everything else. But I made it out victoriously, I knocked him out in the first round and it was interesting.
BH: Daniel, you will be facing 11-3 Southpaw Chad Wright this weekend in Ohio. What can you tell us about your upcoming opponent?
DM: I know he is a southpaw and I heard he could hit hard. He fought a buddy of mine with whom I fought in my second professional fight and I knocked him out in the third round.
BH: Ya’ll still buddies?
DM: Oh yeah real good friends, we are just awesome buddies really. He fought him when Chad was like 5-0 and he beat him so my thoughts upon him and I heard he has gotten a lot better since that fight and I heard he is pretty doggone tough. But as hard as I train man and I train for every bout like it is a world title fight so I am confident in every fight I go into man. I feel that is going to be a devastating performance. It will be my first time on Showtime and hopefully I will get out there and let the fans know that there is a new superstar in town and it is me.
BH: You won the NABA & WBC Latin American Featherweight Titles earlier this year by knocking out Whyber Garcia. Explain how it felt to get not one but two titles with one victory and to become a contender in the process?
DM: Unexplainable, really unexplainable that was the most awesome feeling cause I mean everyone I talked to and who offered me the fight they basically told me by there actions that I was just going down there for a payday. They did not think I was going to go down there and beat that boy. I never thought in my mind the whole time that I was training that I was taking a payday, I knew in my mind I was training to beat this guy. I promised my grandpa on his deathbed that I would win all the titles. He was on his deathbed and he wasn’t functioning or anything or anything no more and I asked him if it would make him feel really good for me to win the titles and he smiled and that was the last thing he done ever before he died. That is my motivation in every fight that I have that he is on my shoulder. He’s always there and I honestly knew when I went down there I was going to beat this guy. Even after the cut in the third round no matter what it was that possibly was going to be my trials in that fight I knew I would over come them because I had my grandpa with me.
BH: For the ones who are not aware of Daniel Maldonado’s style or skill level, how would you describe your attributes to them?
DM: I’m a boxer puncher. I haven’t had anyone whatsoever who could out fight me like when it comes toe-to-toe. I have an awesome chin, I just never had any problems banging with anybody. I’m actually starting to perfect getting down and being able to box for these better boxers. Some guys outbox me and I end up going toe-to-toe in war with them and being in good shape I always beat them. We have been working a whole lot with my boxing skills and I’m getting better, so basically I’m a boxer puncher.
BH: What is your training regime?
DM: I was training seven days a week but I slowed down to about six days a week. If I don’t have a fight coming up then I bare minimum three days a week.
BH: You fight in a competitive division that has fighters such as WBC champion Eric Morales, Jose Cotto, Joel Casamayor. You are still young but are continuing to improve and move up with every bout, when you and your team feel that you are ready to step up who would you like to face to make a statement to the division and how do you see yourself faring up against the top ten?
DM: Manny Paq, Rocky Juarez, Marco Antonio Barrera, them are your three big names and I am just a confident fighter. I would like to face Rocky Juarez as my first big step up. Rocky is a real awesome fighter, he takes his time and is real calm and patient but I can’t me getting hurt against him.
BH: What can the boxing world expect from you in the near future?
DM: We are really stepping it up and getting busy right now. I just fought last weekend and I will be fighting this coming weekend and I’m fighting in January in Louisville, Kentucky, and then possibly I might be the co-main event on the Laila Ali card in Atlanta Georgia in February. So I have really stepped it up and am getting busy so I definitely see a lot of devastating performances, I’m really going to be busting my butt training really hard man. I want to get my family out of where we are at and increase our lifestyle so I will be giving it my best and I promise that I will succeed.
BH: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview or say to the fans or your division?
DM: If you watch me fight and if you are there please yell for me because that is what honestly drives me. I can’t hear any particular screams, but I can hear the oohs and ahhs. When somebody hits me and I hear the fans go ohh, you better believe that I’m getting my ahh back. So I would really appreciate it if they would scream there heads off when I fight and I appreciate it.
I would like to thank Chris Webb of StraightUpPromotions.com for getting me an interview with Daniel and I would like to give a big shout out to Maldonado for his time and thoughts, I had a good time man.
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