Hardened Argentine Marcos Maidana goes into his defining night this weekend attempting to avoid becoming just ‘Otro número’ (another number) on Floyd Mayweather Jr’s perfect and seemingly impenetrable 45-0 record.
The 30 year-old has come up through the ranks the hard way, dealing with two controversial losses and one possibly career-determining defeat, on his way to finally finding his place with Oxnard trainer Robert Garcia.
Looking back at Maidana’s first taste of the big time in 2009, a close points reverse in Germany to Andriy Kotelnik could have easily have been the first world title of the South American’s career with three different judges residing at ringside.
After dusting himself off, ‘Chino’ came back to put together and impressive run of victories, including knockout wins over Victor Ortiz, William Gonzalez and Victor Cayo in the run-up to a unanimous win over DeMarcus Corley for the WBA interim belt at 140lbs.
Then came the bout we all remember against Amir Khan, which was the last time Maidana touched the canvas as the Briton hit him with a sweeter body shot as you are likely to see in the first round. Maidana did well to recover from it so early in the fight after being caught cold, and then followed eleven entertaining rounds that could have also gone either way on the scorecards.
The popular Khan got the decision on the night, although Maidana won the hearts of the boxing world with his gutsy and stalking performance that may have resulted in a late stoppage triumph on another night.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Maidana stepped in and defeated the great, although past his prime, Erik Morales at the MGM Grand, before a slightly more low-key win followed as Petr Petrov was swept aside in four brutal rounds. Maidana was then pitted against Devon Alexander in February 2012 in a fight that would ultimately change his career for the better, but not without the hurt of going through the worst performance of his boxing life.
With his head all over the place due to outside of the ring distractions, Maidana was totally dominated over ten rounds in a fight that you would be hard pushed to even give the disillusioned puncher a round. Taking nothing away from the skilful Alexander as he did what he had to do and got rid of what was in front of him emphatically, but Maidana had reached a point in his career where something had to change.
Enter new coach Garcia and a switch to California, which has since brought four wins, three stoppages, a first defeat for touted future pound for pounder Adrien Broner and the golden ticket that now presents itself against Mayweather.
Garcia must be credited with harnessing Maidana’s best assets, his power and ability to corner opponents. Couple that with some newly taught body attacks and the now WBA title holder is a real threat to any welterweight in the world, including the best out there in Mayweather.
A gameplan not too dissimilar to the one that dropped and humbled Broner is in the works, although as Mayweather is considerably cuter than his ‘little brother,’ Maidana will have to raise the bar two or three notches higher to have any chance of taking the most lucrative unbeaten record in history.
Mayweather has hinted as aiming for a knockout of his own this weekend as ‘The Moment’ finally arrives, with bookmakers disagreeing as usual and favouring a points win for the five-weight king of the sport. Odds of 12/1 for a Maidana knockout reflect the general consensus of how the fight will unfold come Saturday night as Santa Fe’s finest looks to mimic Jose Luis Castillo’s attempt and give Mayweather considerably more than he has bargained for.
Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay for tweets of upcoming news on WBN