by Michael Gluckstadt
As fight week approaches, we'll take our first Inside Fight Week look at how each fight is shaping up:
Eric Morales vs Marcos Rene Maidana:
In the main event, a 12-round junior welterweight fight, Erik "El Terrible" is taking on Marcos "El Chino" Maidana. The 34-year-old Morales, who retired in 2007 before stringing together three victories on his Mexican comeback trail, feels he's prepared to get back to the top level of competition. "I am very calm and ready," he says. "The junior welterweight division gives me the opportunity to eat well and to make weight without sacrificing my body like I had to in the past."
The hard-throwing Maidana is coming off a close but unanimous decision loss to Amir Khan, and the defeat has left a bitter taste in his mouth. "I want to be a world champion again and move past the frustration I have felt since my fight with Amir Khan," the Argentine says. "I am definitely prepared and hungry for this fight."
Robert Guerrero vs Michael Katsidis:
Robert Guerrero and Michael Katsidis will be fighting for the vacant WBA and WBO Interim Lightweight belt. The fight had been scheduled for early last year, but was canceled when Guerrero stepped away from boxing to care for his ailing wife, Casey. Now that Casey has been cancer-free for over a year, Robert has been able to focus on boxing. "It takes a huge weight off your shoulders and makes everything easier to prepare for fights," he says. "I'm tremendously prepared for this fight.”
The always-dangerous Katsidis is coming off a loss in a slugfest with Juan Manuel Marquez. With his focus now on Guerrero, he's been training for the fight in Thailand. "It's not comfortable in the ring," he says. "Thailand is very tough and the conditions here are rugged."
Paulie Malignaggi vs Jose Miguel Cotto:
The former Junior Welterweight World Champion, Paulie Malignaggi is stepping back onto the big stage against Puerto Rico's Jose Miguel Cotto in a 10-round welterweight fight. The flashy Brooklynite is looking to avenge his first ever professional loss, suffered at the hands of Cotto's older brother Miguel. "I know when fighting a Cotto I have to be prepared," he says. "I’m excited for the challenge." The younger Cotto isn't just a famous name. He's gone 32-2-1 with 24 KOs in his 14-year professional career.
James Kirkland vs Nobuhiro Ishida:
In one of the night's most compelling stories, James Kirkland makes his highest profile return to the ring since spending two years in prison for violating parole and purchasing a gun. Kirkland was a rising talent and spectacular knockout artist when he took his forced hiatus. Since returning to the ring, Kirkland's scored two impressive KOs, both within the first two rounds, and looks to make the light middleweight from Japan his third.