Punching and kicking are meant to disrupt and neutralize grappling and throwing. Just as grappling and throwing serve the purpose of disrupting and neutralizing punching and kicking. In professional boxing straight punches reach the target first and usually impede hooks and uppercuts. The fight is usually decided by the fighter who can impose his game/style over the other. If the fighter throwing straight lefts and rights is effective then the fighter who wants to get inside and land his hooks and uppercuts is at the disadvantage. And of course the opposite applies if the fighter who makes his living with his uppercut and hooks gets inside. Because once he’s there the fighter who is at his best launching straight lefts and rights is smothered and doesn’t have the space and leverage to get off.
This past weekend’s junior welterweight bout between Erik Morales 51-7 (35) and Marcos Maidana 30-2 (27) was a great exhibit of crisp straight lefts and rights (Morales) versus thudding hooks and uppercuts (Maidana). Forget for a moment that Morales is an old 34 and was fighting 10 pounds over his best weight, and Maidana is in his prime at 27 and fought at his natural ring weight of 140. The fight basically came down to whether or not Maidana could get past Morales’ stiff lefts and rights in order to work Morales’s head and body with his powerful hooks and uppercuts. And on my scorecard Maidana was better at forcing his fight on Morales during seven of the 12 rounds they fought. In the five rounds that went to Morales, he was very effective at getting through with his straight and hard left jab followed by a perfectly timed right behind the left that Maidana was forced to stop with his face and chin.
Maidana won the fight conclusively, but he had to really dig deep within himself to earn the majority decision he left the ring with. The fight, at least on my card, was decided during the final two rounds. And during those rounds Morales only had enough stamina to prevent Maidana from really seizing the fight. For the first 10 rounds Morales was able to stabilize the bout every time Maidana was trying to impose himself over his older opponent. But after dipping into his reserve every other round from rounds one through 10, Morales was too old, tired and spent to hold the surging Maidana off down the stretch.
There’s no controversy regarding the decision or the fight, it was Maidana’s fight. However, it was Morales’s night. Yes, Morales was supposed to get destroyed and prior to the fight it was said here that he was flirting with suicide. And that’s one of the reasons why boxing is the greatest sport of all because you just don’t know when the unexpected is going to happen. Who would’ve believed it before the fight if they were told Maidana was going to catch Morales all night with his Sunday left-hook and over hand right – and yet he’d never once be close to going down or out? In fact it was the opposite. Maidana was shook really good on at least two occasions during the fight and it looked for a brief moment that he was within a Morales combination of going down.
Maidana won the fight, but after watching he and Morales wage war for 12-rounds, there’s no doubt as to who the superior fighter is, and that’s Morales. Erik saw everything that Maidana, a dangerous one dimensional fighter, threw before it reached him (and he only had one good eye being that his right eye was completely swollen shut due to a beautiful Maidana left uppercut at the end of the first round), but due to his age and declining skills, he wasn’t able to get out of the way or counter it enough to gain the upper hand. His fundamentals and boxing basics really prevented him from being steam rolled and his technical superiority really exposed Maidana as the hard punching crude fighter he his. Morales’ sound structure and spacing really left Maidana open and vulnerable. Unfortunately for Morales at 34 he wasn’t capable of making Maidana really pay for his non-existent defense.
Coming into the fight everyone knew Erik Morales was not only a Hall of Fame fighter, but a great one at that. Against Marcos Maidana this past Saturday night his performance further endorsed that. Prior to the fight I didn’t think Morales was gonna make it beyond the sixth round. In addition to that, I liked Shane Mosley as a 6-1 underdog to upset Manny Pacquiao much more than I liked Morales as a 6-1 underdog to upset Maidana.
If Mosley gives Pacquiao the scare that Morales gave Maidana, Floyd Mayweather will be the happiest man alive and the boxing world will be in shock.
Frank Lotierzo can be reached at GlovedFist@Gmail.com