By Kieran Mulvaney
Marcos Maidana does not, at first sight, appear to match his reputation. A boxer’s muscles are generally lean rather than bulky, built for speed and reflexes rather than weight-lifting strength, but even by the standards of his weight division, Maidana seems slight. He is not obviously a man possessed of frightening punching power. But if Devon Alexander, who faces Maidana in the year’s first Boxing After Dark broadcast on February 25, needs any convincing of just how real that punching power in fact is, we offer three fighters who experienced it firsthand:
Victor Ortiz. When Ortiz stepped into the ring with Maidana in June 2009, he was the rising star who had been bowling over one foe after another. The little-known Maidana was expected to be another notch in the belt as Ortiz continued his path to glory, and when the Argentine went down in the first round after an Ortiz assault, the script seemed to be unfolding as planned. But then Ortiz, overeager, ran headlong into a Maidana right hand that flattened him. He recovered, and knocked his opponent down twice more in the second. But Maidana would not be denied, constantly powering forward and landing brutal blows that took the fight out of the young American, knocking him down and causing him to retreat from battle in the eighth round.
Amir Khan. Unlike Ortiz, the Briton emerged victorious from his encounter with Maidana, but like Ortiz, he doubtless expected on the basis of a first-round knockdown that his night would be easier than it turned out. That knockdown, which came at the end of the opening frame of their December 2010 clash, was the result of a Khan body shot that had Maidana grimacing in pain. Once again, however, Maidana proved resilient and relentless. He hauled Khan in down the stretch – including a furious tenth-round assault that all but sent his head flying into the crowd – only to fall agonizingly short on the scorecards.
Erik Morales. The veteran exposed the weaknesses in Maidana’s style, showing just enough defensive movement to blunt his opponent’s occasionally crude assault, and enough offensive variety to pierce his guard. But even the wiles Morales had acquired over almost two decades of professional pugilism were not enough to prevent Maidana from inflicting an injury so grotesque, a right eye so horrendously swollen, that outside of a boxing ring it would have been photographed as evidence that a violent assailant was at large.
Alexander, who possesses the kind of boxing skills that could leave Maidana swinging and missing, is confident. “I've got my legs strong and fast, and I'm ready to rock and roll,” he says. But many a thoroughbred has become bogged down in the rough terrain that is a Maidana fight. Will Alexander prove the exception?