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Amir Khan’s Moment of Truth: The Marcos Maidana Showdown

By Delroy Hill

On December 11, Amir Khan, 23-1, 17 KO’s, will defend his WBA Light Welterweight Title against Marcos Rene Maidana, 29-1, 27 KO’s, at the Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort in Las Vegas.

Fans have been anticipating a fight between Khan and Maidana as the two have engaged in a war of words over the past year on Twitter and in the press. The bout presents an interesting clash of styles as Khan is a fast, technical boxer facing a come forward, power puncher in Maidana.

In his first fight at 140 pounds, Khan faced then champion Andriy Kotelnik at the Manchester Evening News Arena in the United Kingdom. Kotelnik, coming off a split decision victory over Maidana just five months prior, was easily out-boxed, arguably losing every round.

After losing to Kotelnik, “El Chino” captured the interim WBA world light welterweight title with a sixth round technical knockout of the highly regarded Victor Ortiz (28-2-1, 22ko). Maidana displayed the heart of a real fighter, getting up off the canvas three times to stop the rising star, breaking Ortiz’s will and making him quit. A few short weeks later Khan decisioned Kotelnik for the title, starting the talk of a fight between himself and Maidana.

Immediately, the Argentine began looking for a fight with Khan, who instead fought then undefeated Dmitriy Salita. Salita looked out of his league as Khan dropped him three times in round one, once in 10 seconds, to earn the first round technical knockout. That’s when things began to heat up. Maidana expected to be Khan’s next opponent, but was again denied the opportunity to fight for the world title.

Freddie Roach, who was brought in as Amir’s trainer after his first round knockout to then undefeated Breidis Prescott seemed hesitant to put Khan in the ring with Maidana. Instead, Golden Boy Promotions paid Maidana money to step aside and allow Khan to fight the feather fisted Paulie Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Team Khan claimed that Maidana was not a big enough name amongst boxing fans for Khan to make the type of impact they wanted for his debut on American soil. Though Malignaggi is a popular, former world champion most fans failed to give him any chance at all in beating the bigger, stronger Khan. When the two did climb the canvas, Malignaggi was unable to deal with Khan’s speed and reach advantages, and lost every round before being stopped via TKO in round 11.

Marcos Maidana went on to defend the interim title three times. He looked very impressive in the first two defenses with a third round knockout of William Gonzalez in Argentina, and a sixth round knockout via debilitating body shot, of then undefeated Victor Cayo. He looked average in his third defense where he went life and death with 36 year old former champion DeMarcus “Chop Cop” Corley. Just as many suspected of “El Chino’s” sub par performance, Khan stated to the press that he wanted Maidana as his next opponent, the very next day.

At this point, the fight seemed inevitable, but Khan again looked to fight smaller men in lightweight king Juan Manuel Marquez or Michael Katsidis. Once negotiations got under way, doubt the fight would materialize came in the form of Khan saying that Maidana was pricing himself out of the fight, by asking for too much money. Although the offer from Golden Boy was about three times Maidana’s highest purse, and also higher than offers from the other 140 pound champions, Tim Bradley and Devon Alexander, he felt he deserved more. Having played the cat and mouse game of getting Khan into the ring, Maidana wrote a letter to the WBA, asking them to force a purse bid to make Khan fight or vacate his title.

Khan accepted the challenge, and both have agreed to terms. They are now set to do battle at the end of the year.

Maidana has two advantages in this fight. Obviously, having won 27 of his 29 victories by way of knockout, the Argentine has big time power. He applies pressure throughout the fight similar to Antonio Margarito, and possesses power in each hand. As he showed in the Ortiz fight, he has a lot of heart. Ortiz is no light puncher, and Maidana took the best he had to offer being dropped once in the first round and twice in the second. He shook it off and stopped Ortiz just three rounds later.

King Khan is the better overall boxer. The only disadvantage most fans believe he has in the fight is his sometimes questionable chin. I personally believe his chin problems are a bit exaggerated. He has been down a few times in his young career, but so has Maidana.

Sure, he was knocked out in the first round of his Sky Box Office debut against Prescott, but at the time Prescott was undefeated, with 17 of his 19 victories coming by knockout. Khan was also in his first fight under trainer Jorge Rubio. Khan made the switch to Roach to tighten up his offense and to protect himself better on defense. He hasn’t been tested much since his only loss, but he has shown improvement in not leaving himself open when he punches.

Khan has many advantages in the fight against Maidana. He has faster hands and feet, a height and reach advantage, a better jab, better boxing skills, and Roach in his corner.

Khan should be able to keep Maidana on the end of his fast and crisp jab. If he’s smart, he will throw very short combinations and not give his opponent the chance to plant his feet and throw his hard shots. After Khan lands, he should be able to circle away from Maidana’s power, always remembering to keep his chin tucked.

Though most would assume the same, that Khan would box Maidana, he seems to have other plans for dispatching of the Argentine. At the presser he said “I’m going to do something different in this fight, something nobody’s ever seen me do. I’m changing my style. I’m going to come in and be the big puncher. This fight, is going to be explosive.” He also told AOL Fanhouse “Maidana is going to get knocked out” earlier this month.

Maidana sounded relieved to have finally gotten this fight signed. “I felt Amir was scared of me because he wasn’t giving me the opportunity to fight him. It’s been almost a year and a half since I won the interim title. I’m excited that we’re going to fight,” he said when he took the podium.

We’re all excited to see this two meet, but Khan will be too much for him.

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