by Kieran Mulvaney
Lamont Peterson was first into the ring at yesterday's open workout, and the former world title challenger -- hoping to put his career on track with a victory over Victor Ortiz in the co-main event of Saturday's card -- is not actually expected to do so. He is the B side of the support bout, and although he announced each punch as loudly when hitting the mitts as he does when throwing bombs in a fight ("I may need to wear my headphones ringside on Saturday," muttered one scribe) not too many of the largely British press contingent were paying attention. They weren't there for Peterson.
As Lamont finished, Marcos Maidana arrived, an appearance that caused greater commotion among the Her Majesty's press. Maidana is fighting their man on Saturday, and before he worked out, he found himself engulfed in a crowd of amply-proportioned inquisitors. Maidana, speaking through an interpreter, said little, the kind of man who, as they say, prefers to let his fists do the talking.
The power of Maidana's punches was evident last year when they handed defeat to Victor Ortiz, who showed up while Maidana was going through his routine and who, as always, had smiles, handshakes and hugs for those he knew. Professional boxers by nature as a rule have impressive physiques, but Ortiz took obvious pride in stripping off to the waist when he stepped into the ring, showing a shockingly thin waist tapering upward into an immensely strong upper body that he torqued as he ripped punches into his trainer's mitt.
"Been working out much?" cracked an HBO blogger.
"Nah," deadpanned Ortiz. "Hanging out on the couch, eating popcorn, watching Harry Potter."
He laughed, leaped exuberantly down from the ring apron, and for a fraction of a second there was mild panic as the mat on the floor gave way and he almost lost his footing. The thought flashed through the mind of his big night being derailed by a sprained ankle or worse, but he recovered his balance and laughed at the anxious faces, before departing the gym and leaving the stage to the big star.
Amir Khan's trainer Freddie Roach wrapped the fighter's hands, and the throng watched reverently.The relative quiet was broken by the presentation of a cake for the fighter's 24th birthday, a cake that he of course will not be able to eat. Khan and Roach climbed into the ring, and a difference was immediately apparent: Whereas other fighters tend to go through the motions during open workouts, Roach was using this as a teachable moment, encouraging Khan to practice stepping to one side, outside Maidana's left, and throwing a three-punch combination to the jaw. Over and over they worked on that move and others, until Roach, satisfied with the work, allowed his pupil to climb back out through the ropes.