Marcos Maidana: The King of Argentina
By Hector Franco
August 15, 2016
After nearly a two-year hiatus from the sport of boxing, this past Tuesday Marcos Maidana (35-5, 31 KOs) announced his official retirement from the sport of boxing. Maidana is walking away from the sport at just 33 years of age. It’s a rarity in the sport of boxing for a fighter to leave on his own terms. There are so many examples throughout boxing history of fighters overstaying their welcome.
Maidana is leaving boxing with fans wanting to see him in the ring one more time. Fighters like Maidana tend to be overlooked in boxing history. The amount of titles they win are secondary to the amount of great fights they produce. For a fighter who reportedly treated the sport as a job, still fought with a passion that always entertained. If not for anything else, that’s what Maidana will be remembered for.
Maidana entered the sport at a time to help produce a trio of great fighters from Argentina. Sergio Martinez would become the undisputed middleweight champion of the world. Lucas Matthysse was one of the best and most feared 140-pounders of this era. Maidana is arguably the best of the trio and certainly the most exciting of the three. These three fighters are now all effectively out of the sport with only Lucas Matthysse possibly coming back in the future. With Maidana, now officially retired from the sport it leaves a hole in the sport and specifically the welterweight division. Where Maidana could have still made money in highly lucrative bouts. But, Maidana has given enough to boxing where no one can complain about his retirement.
First impressions are important, especially in boxing. In June 2009, Maidana was brought in as an opponent for Golden Boy’s heir apparent, Victor Ortiz (31-6, 24 KOs). Maidana was coming off the first loss of his career in a close decision loss to, Andriy Kotelnik. The fight was shown on HBO and took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. When the two men met in the ring it produced immediate fireworks. The two men traded knockdowns in the first round. Ortiz was able to score two more knockdowns, but it never stopped Maidana from coming forward. After six rounds of action and another knockdown from Maidana on Ortiz, the fight was stopped in the corner. Ortiz had taken enough punishment. The fight for Ortiz changed how boxing fans for the rest of his career perceived him. For Maidana, this was the opportunity he was waiting for and he took full advantage. The fight was considered one of the best fights of 2009.
After a string of victories by knockout including Victor Ortiz and the undefeated Victor Cayo, Maidana was considered the biggest puncher at 140-pounds and one of the biggest in the sport. After the departure of Timothy Bradley from the 140-pound division, the biggest star in the division was Amir Khan (31-4, 19 KOs). Khan was determined to show the world that he wasn’t afraid of any fighter. It was his choice to face Maidana to prove he wasn’t afraid of punchers after his first round knockout loss to, Breidis Prescott. The fight would be for the WBA championship and take place at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada in December 2010.
The fight started with Khan attempting to touch gloves with Maidana. Maidana would have none of that and attempted to land a punch on Khan instead. From the start, Maidana was putting the pressure on Khan with a high volume of punches. That ended when Khan landed a tremendous body shot that sent Maidana thriving in pain on the canvas. The fight looked like it was over, but Maidana got up just in time to beat the count. The body shot took its toll on Maidana. Khan was landing in combination for most of the fight. Then the tenth round came. In the tenth round, Maidana landed a Hail Mary overhand right that hurt Khan and sent him reeling into the ropes. Maidana tried his best to stop Khan as he was wobbling all over the ring. Referee Joe Cortez broke up the two fighters anytime Maidana got close. Khan survived the last two rounds to win a unanimous decision. This was another fight of the year candidate for Maidana. After the bout with Khan, we would see a downturn in Maidana’s career.
Maidana would once again be challenged, this time by a fighter trying to prove not only to himself but also to his fans that he was still capable of competing at the world-class level. This fighter was Erik Morales (52-9, 36 KOs). A legend at 122 and 126, Morales was making a comeback to the sport after seemingly having been retired after a fight with David Diaz in 2007. Morales won 3 fights in 2010 and in his mind was ready to challenge a fighter like Marcos Maidana. Beforehand, the fight was seen as a mismatch as Morales was past his prime and fighting at a weight he had only recently competed at.
The Maidana-Morales fight took place in April 2011 as part of a card that featured nothing but action packed fights including the likes of Robert Guerrero, Michael Katsidis, and Edwin Valero. Maidana-Morales was the main event of the PPV. Maidana couldn’t have had a better start to the fight as he pounded on Morales and caused his eye to swell up in grotesque fashion. In dramatic fashion, Morales battled back with one eye and landed some hellacious punches on Maidana. Maidana needed to win the last round to win the fight. Maidana got a majority decision victory in a fight that could have gone either way. Maidana and Morales have had so many great fights in their careers that this fight is often overlooked. This was another fight of the year candidate for Maidana. For him to struggle with a fighter past his prime showed how great Morales was, but highlighted that he may not be in the best place in his career.
After Morales, Maidana took a fight in Argentina against Petr Petrov. His next fight would be a low point in his career. Maidana challenged Devon Alexander (26-4, 14 KOs) in February 2012 at welterweight in St. Louis. Alexander dominated Maidana as he landed in combination and grabbed Maidana all night. Alexander may have held Maidana more than he landed punches as Steve Smoger who is usually a competent referee proved to be useless on this night. Regardless of the referee, Maidana looked uninspired in the fight and never stopped Alexander from holding. Afterward, Maidana would think about retirement as his love for the sport was waning.
Later that same year in 2012, Maidana’s team made a phone call to, famed trainer, Robert Garcia. It was a final attempt for Maidana to redirect his career. Maidana’s first opponent under Robert Garcia was Jesus Soto Karass (28-10, 18 KOs). Karass is a fighter in the same vein as Antonio Margarito. The fight took place in September 2012. The tensions were high before and during the fight as both men jawed at each other and landed punches after the bell. Maidana was able to show a new wrinkle to his game as he displayed a jab. This wrinkle ultimately led to Maidana’s victory in the eighth round as he set up a right hand with the jab that dropped Soto Karass. The referee then stopped the fight. On this same night, Maidana’s next high profile opponent, Josesito Lopez(33-7, 19 KOs), fought Canelo Alvarez.
Before facing Josesito Lopez, Maidana fought another opponent in Argentina in December 2012. He was then ready to take on Josesito Lopez at the then-named Home Depot Center in June 2013. Besides the body shot knockdown against Amir Khan, Josesito Lopez was able to hurt Maidana to the point of almost stopping him. After three back and forth rounds, Lopez in the fourth round hurt Maidana and beat him up. It was a round that should have been scored 10-8 for Lopez without scoring a knockdown. Maidana rallied back and scored a knockdown on Lopez in the sixth round with a right hand. It forced Lopez to take a knee and the fight was soon stopped after. Lopez kept getting hit with the right hand leaving the referee no choice but to stop the fight. This was Maidana’s third win in a row by knockout under Robert Garcia. His next fight would end up being the one fans remember him for the most.
In December 2013, Adrien Broner (32-2, 24 KOs) was one of the biggest stars in the sport. He was seen as the next great fighter in boxing. Broner recently stepped up to welterweight and won the WBA title against Paulie Malignaggi. The young champion from Cincinnati was riding high and overlooking his next opponent. Marcos Maidana took advantage of the opportunity.
In what turned out to be this generation's Barrera-Hamed, Marcos Maidana put a beating on Adrien Broner. Broner attempted to hump Maidana in the first round after the two fighters switched positions in the corner. This led to Maidana scoring a knockdown in the second round with a left hand after baiting Broner with a jab to the body. Broner was knocked down once more in the 8th round. Broner showed heart in the loss by fighting back and at times it seemed like he hurt Maidana. This wasn’t enough, however, as Maidana got a unanimous decision victory. Broner left the ring without giving a post-fight interview while Maidana was put on his handler’s shoulders with a crown. It was the biggest victory of his career and one that resonated with boxing fans worldwide. He was the underdog and thoroughly beat down one of boxing’s, most divisive fighters. This victory would lead to Maidana facing off against the man considered to be the best of this era.
In a unification bout for the WBA and WBC welterweight titles, Marcos Maidana would challenge Floyd Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs) in his third fight on his Showtime contract. Mayweather as always was the favorite. Going into the bout, Maidana knew that while Broner may have had some similarities to Mayweather, Mayweather was a much smarter and more experienced fighter. The fight turned out to be one of Mayweather’s toughest. It took place in May 2014.
Maidana started fast in the first half of the fight throwing an average of 100 punches per round in the first half. Through the first six rounds, many observers had Maidana up 5-1, 4-2 or the fight a draw at 3 rounds apiece. Mayweather through the second half of the bout was able to land an impressive 66% of his punches. He also showcased an often-overlooked part of his game in body punching. This caused Maidana to slow down in the second half of the fight. It allowed Mayweather to win rounds that Maidana could have won with more energy. Mayweather ended up winning a majority decision, but many observers felt that Maidana had done enough to get a win or a draw.
Before the fight, because Maidana chose to stay in Argentina. This gave him a shorter training camp for his fight with Mayweather. If he had come so close to defeating Mayweather with a short camp, the thought was that he could do much better in a rematch. Whether he could defeat Mayweather was one thing, but the greater victory was that Maidana did what he always did. Produce an entertaining bout. It wasn’t one of Maidana’s most exciting fights, but it was certainly one of Mayweather’s.
The rematch was set for September 2014. The event and fight as a whole turned out to be a disappointment. Leo Santa Cruz fought a former sparring partner on the undercard. Mickey Bey and Miguel Vasquez put on a fight so devoid of action it made John Ruiz-Fres Oquendo look like Barrera-Morales. Needless to say by the time the main event started fans were hoping to be woken up.
On this night, Mayweather decided to take the route of "win today, look good tomorrow". Maidana was in a similar situation on this night as he was against Devon Alexander. Kenny Bayless allowed Floyd Mayweather to hold as much as he needed to and broke up the fighters anytime Maidana got in close. Maidana had one moment of brilliance at the end of the third round. Mayweather was feinting for his usual pull counter and instead of pulling back like most opponents do; Maidana pulled in and landed the hardest punch of the fight. A great straight right hand. Mayweather was visibly hurt and was lucky that the punch took place at the end of the round. The next two rounds were Maidana’s best rounds and it seemed that the fight was going back to resembling their first fight. After the fifth, Mayweather took back control of the fight and cruised to a unanimous decision victory.
This would be the last time fans got to see Maidana in the ring. He would leave for his native Argentina and enjoy the fruits of his labor. Within a 10-month span, Maidana fought three times and garnered the biggest paydays of his career. After almost two years out of the ring, the inevitable came and Maidana announced his official retirement.
He is one of the few fighters that fans would love to see come out of retirement. With the recent announcement of Manny Pacquiao facing Jessie Vargas, a Pacquiao-Maidana fight to this day would still garner much anticipation. This is wishful thinking. Fans should instead look at Maidana as an example of leaving the sport on your own terms. Maidana would certainly get my vote if he ever showed up on the ballot of the Hall-of-Fame. The number of great fights he gave to boxing should be considered.
Thank you, Chino. The King of Argentina.
(Featured Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)