Maidana Looks To Turn The Tables On Mayweather

It was a rare uncomfortable moment for Floyd Mayweather, as he hesitantly shook hands with Marcos Maidana’s trainer, Robert Garcia, agreeing to a rematch only a few minutes after Mayweather
14 Sep 2014 13:16
Maidana Looks To Turn The Tables On Mayweather
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It was a rare uncomfortable moment for Floyd Mayweather, as he hesitantly shook hands with Marcos Maidana’s trainer, Robert Garcia, agreeing to a rematch only a few minutes after Mayweather had escaped in May with a majority-decision victory.

In their first bout, Maidana was dismissed by Nevada oddsmakers as a 14-1 underdog. But he repeatedly fired well-plotted right hooks at Mayweather, surprising the champion through the first half of their fight before Mayweather rallied. One judge scored it a draw, the other two favoured Mayweather (46-0, 26 knockouts).

But the fierce bout earned the Argentine only the second rematch in Mayweather’s storied 18-year career. The World Boxing Council and World Boxing Assn. welterweight title fight is set for today’s (Fiji time) fight at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

For Maidana (35-4, 31 KOs), the event is the latest stop on a journey dotted by moments in which he endured just when it looked as if he might be throwing in a towel.

His childhood was spent living on farmland, where his father worked local fields on horse- and cow-pulled plows. “Whatever we could get to eat came from the land,” Maidana’s younger brother, Fabian, said in Spanish through an interpreter. “Potatoes and watermelon from the ground, or we could go fish or hunt.”

Later, the Maidanas moved to the rough neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires.

“He was a street boy, getting in fights, dodging bullets, going to jail,” Garcia said recently at his Oxnard gym.

“All of the other great fighters, they go in there knowing it’s Mayweather, he has power in this sport. Maidana doesn’t care.

“Knowing where he’s come from, why would he be worried about anyone wearing gloves? … He doesn’t respect anyone in the ring. … He’s in there to put a beating on whoever’s in front of him.”

Maidana started 18-0 as a pro fighter in his home country with 17 stoppages, then, swayed by promises of greater purses, was sent to Germany for nearly two years. He felt uncomfortable there, though, and each night after training retreated to his room.

His ring success, however, landed him a US debut bout five years ago at Staples Centre against Victor Ortiz, and his manager laid out the high stakes of the bout: Win, and Golden Boy Promotions would sign him, keeping Maidana in the US for more bouts. Defeat meant a return to Germany.

“If I would’ve lost that fight, I’d have never been found again,” Maidana said recently through a Spanish interpreter. Maidana and Ortiz exchanged knockdowns in the first round, and Maidana was knocked down twice in the second. “Not going back to Germany … that was my motivation to get up,” Maidana said. “That’s what my life has been all about: Every time I get dropped, I come back and win.”

He rallied with a merciless attack on Ortiz in the sixth round, making the then-rising star quit.

So in December 2010, Maidana earned a 140-pound world title shot against England’s Amir Khan, only to be greeted with a first-round liver punch that put Maidana on the canvas.

“I don’t know how I got up, but it felt like someone was lifting me,” Maidana said.

Maidana rallied, often battering Khan. But Khan hung on, surviving punishment in the late rounds to win a decision in what was voted the fight of the year by the Boxing Writers Assn. of America.

What Maidana sensed after the Khan defeat, that he needed to improve his boxing fundamentals, became obvious a little more than a year later. He ventured to Devon Alexander’s hometown of St. Louis and was picked apart by a superior boxer, losing a lopsided 10-round bout that left Maidana so frustrated he pondered retirement.

That’s when Maidana changed trainers and asked Garcia for help.

“When he got here, he was unhappy … but little by little, he fell in love with the sport again,” Garcia said.


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