Marcos Maidana is the one that deserves the megafight with Floyd Mayweather this May, not Amir Khan.
While there’s no end-of-year award given by the Boxing Writers Association of America for upset-of-the-year, if there was, it probably would have been given to the December 14 battle between Maidana and Adrien Broner.
While the other candidate (Jhonny Gonzalez’s Round 1 knockout of Abner Mares) was equally shocking to most fight observers, Maidana’s win wasn’t a case of one punch winning a fight. Rather, it was a clear and decisive win over the full 36 minutes of action.
The 12-round bout took place at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas and was broadcast live on Showtime.
A huge underdog, Maidana put Broner down to the canvas in Rounds 2 and 8, hurt him numerous other times and outworked Broner during the late rounds to take home a clear and unanimous decision victory.
Judges at ringside scored the bout 115-110, 116-109 and 117-109.
Could he do the same or similar against Mayweather? To help me decide, I asked world-renowned trainer Ronnie Shields to break down the Maidana-Broner fight for me. While I was ringside for the fight, I wouldn’t pretend to know a fraction of what Shields knows about the sweet science. I’m no boxing expert. I’m just a guy who writes about it.
“Maidana did what he was supposed to do,” said Shields. “He jumped on him early, hurt him early, dropped him early, and he was ahead on the scorecards, so Broner had to suck it up. And he did. He sucked it up the best he could. But Maidana’s power was there from the beginning to the end, and that’s what allowed him to win the fight.”
I asked Shields what he thought of Broner’s adoption of the shoulder roll defense, the one Mayweather has helped make famous. Should Broner, I asked, drop the style altogether and not try so hard to mimic the best fighter on the planet? Where Broner seems to get hit so easily, I reasoned, Mayweather almost never gets hit with the same punch twice.
“He’s adopted the style very well. He’s been successful at it. It’s worked for him. But he’s got to understand that different styles make different fights. And with Maidana’s style, he never saw the wide punches coming.”
Shields made a shoulder roll gesture himself as he told (and showed) me what Broner was doing wrong.
“With the style [Broner] has, when he puts his shoulder up, it blocks his view. And [Maidana] knew that. They knew he could come wide to this side, then wider on the other side…Broner never saw the punches coming.”
It’s true. Poor Broner was rocked early and often in the bout, and even though he made several shows to the crowd as it was happening to prove the punches were not having an impact on him, the reality of the situation was written all over his bruised and puffy face. He was hurt by the punches, and he was embarrassed he was getting hit by them.
“This is why you study opponents,” said Shields. “When you study an opponent, you’ve got to realize that everybody can’t fight the same kind of fight that you’d expect them to fight. You have to expect them to do something different.”
It’s unclear what Broner thought Maidana’s strategy would be going into the fight. While the slugger’s craft has improved mightily under the tutelage of Robert Garcia, his erratic punch patterns and multi-punch combinations are still the bread-and-butter of his game.
That, and his power, Shields reminded me.
“Maidana is so strong that he can punch with both hands…he just put everything together and it all worked for him. Even his jab was working.”
It sure was. While Broner fought back hard, he just couldn’t seem to get out the way of Maidana’s punches. It all added up to a huge, huge upset.
“He caught Broner on a great night,” said Shields.
He sure did.
And for my money, I’d rather pay $70 to see Mayweather fight a guy like Maidana, someone who has already shown he can come through against long odds against a similar-styled opponent.
Because maybe he can catch Floyd on a great night, too.