I ventured down to Oxnard, California yesterday to get a good look at May 3rd’s 12 to 1 underdog, Argentina’s Marcos Maidana. As I stepped into The Robert Garcia Boxing Academy, the first thing that took ahold of my sight was the plethora of current and former world champions painted up on the wall. The painting of each fighter was proudly lined up one by one. A line of fighters that included Antonio Margarito, Brandon Rios, Nonito Doniare, and of course, Marcos Maidana. Standing in the other corner of this gym was the phenomenal WBO junior lightweight world champion, Mikey Garcia. It is obvious that 2013 trainer of the year, Robert Garcia, has put together one of the most talented gyms in the world.
Two years ago Marcos Maidana lost to Devon Alexander in what can be called the worst performance of Maidana’s career. Since joining forces with Garcia, they have run off of four straight victories. Maidana, 30, has shown improvement in each win. This past December all of the hard work Maidana’s put in the gym under Garcia’s guidance culminated into the biggest victory of the Argentine slugger’s career. A memorable pummeling of Adrien Broner. Maidana came into the bout a heavy underdog. Maidana floored Broner twice, took his WBA welterweight championship, and Garcia’s Trainer of The Year award was sealed.
In Garcia’s opinon, Maidana’s showdown with Floyd Mayweather is coming at the best time possible for his fighter. “Maidana has improved little by little. It’s been 2 years, 4 fights, but he’s improved so much. I think this fight couldn’t have come at a better moment”, Garcia told me as we waited for Maidana to emerge onto the scene.
After a short while of speaking with Garcia the WBA welterweight world champion enters the room, Marcos Maidana. Maidana has a very calm demeanor as he walks in, unfazed by the onslaught of media members and fans. He almost looks to, in many ways, treat this like any other training camp. Any other fight. After answering some questions and getting his hand wraps on, he’s ready to show the room what he can do.
Maidana gets into the ring with Garcia and begins his media day work out. Immediately, the power of Maidana surprised and impressed me. Everyone knows Maidana can really punch, but the impact of his punches up close is down right fearsome. Maidana can really punch, he posses an elite level of power.
When I asked Garcia of Maidana’s power in comparison to other opponents, Garcia responded, “I know he’s (Mayweather) fought fighters like Cotto, or even Canelo Alvarez who are bigger and stronger, but I don’t think they hit as hard as Maidana. I think Maidana is the hardest puncher he’s ever faced, and when he feels those punches he’s going to be in pain.”
After seeing Maidana on the mitts and heavy bag, I came away thinking Garcia may just be correct about that. Power alone, of course is not going to beat Floyd Mayweather. Neither is strength, but Maidana also looked to be in great shape and already close to the welterweight limit of 147 pounds just three weeks away from May 3rd. Maidana has a very sturdy frame, and he is a naturally heavier man than Mayweather is. Maidana is almost always going to be the slower man, but his technique and defense have certainly tightened up under Garcia. All in all, Maidana looks as good or better than ever.
Despite Maidana’s impressive showing, I still could not bring myself to think he is going to pull off what would be one of boxing’s all time great upsets. Mayweather is still, despite being 37 years old, at the peak of his powers. That being said, I no longer view this fight as an exhibition.
Marcos Maidana is in his prime. He has not lost since joining up with one of the best trainer’s in boxing, and he has the heaviest hands in the welterweight division. He is now a world champion, coming off of the best performance of his career. If Maidana were set to lace them up with any other fighter in his division, the oddsmakers would give him a legitimate chance, even against Manny Pacquiao. A 12 to 1 spread suggests that Maidana should not be able to win a single round. As I drove home from Oxnard, I found those odds just a little too long.