Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Betting on Boxing: Andriy Kotelnik vs. Marcos Rene Maidana

By Michael Nelson

In a potential great fight that's flying under the radar in the boxing community outside of Europe, defending WBA Jr. Welterweight titlist Andriy Kotelnik faces a relatively unknown Argentinian banger named Marcos Rene Maidana on February 7th.

Maidana is 25-0 with 24 knockouts, but take a cursory look into this glossy record and you'll see he's fought weak, non-descript competition. Immediately, a stereotype might pop into your head. We've seen this before: seemingly 2-3 times a year, an undefeated South American boxer with a big knockout record travels to the US and gets flattened by a more experienced foe on Friday Night Fights. To be fair, there are some, like Edison Miranda, that end up being good fighters. But the majority of these men lack the seasoning to compete on a world class level.

Trying not to judge a book by its cover though, I got a hold of a few fights of Maidana. What I saw was pretty impressive. He has a wide array of punches, thrown in quick, compact fashion. He cuts off the ring very well. He invests heavily into body work. And he appears to have a pretty high ring IQ.

In his most telling fight, he fought a journeyman named Juan Carlos Rodriguez with a 56-21 record. Rodriguez was the only opponent of Maidana who had been in with recognizable names, losing to all of them. But he at least served as a gauge as far as comparing how Maidana did with how Cosme Rivera, Danny Perez, Antonio Diaz, Daniel Santos, Herman Ngoudjo, and other Rodriguez opponents did. Marcos passed the mini-test in that regard, winning virtually every minute of the fight, adapting and transitioning from relentless pressure to a more patient boxer-puncher style when he couldn't blow Rodriguez out in the first few rounds. Eventually, he placed a perfectly timed uppercut to Rodriguez' chin and knocked him cold in the 7th.

Because of the limited hand speed and offensive ability of Rodriguez, it is hard to discern exactly how good Carlos is defensively. He does roll his shoulders well, allowing him to get off crisp counter punches.

Andriy Kotelnik is the type of technical boxer we've become accustomed to seeing out of Germany. Similar to Felix Sturm and Arthur Abraham, his defense comprises of keeping earmuffs on; that is, walking to or circling around his opponent while deflecting punches off his forearms and gloves. While his opponent is busy figuring out how to penetrate his defense, he stings them with sharp jabs and straight right hands. Junior Witter caught his fair share of flack for struggling with this man, but the fact is his style is a difficult one to overcome.

Will it be too difficult for the inexperienced Marcos Maidana to overcome? It could be, but it certainly appears that Maidana has the right tools for the job. Kotelnik's earmuffs leaves his body open, and Maidana is a very busy, emphatic body puncher. He's also a dynamic one, mixing in with straight shots to the gut and uppercuts to the sternum to go with wider punches to the sides. That, and the multiple layers he has shown to have in his attack, leads me to believe he will win the title in a hotly contested battle. Fears of a homecooked decision may be somewhat of a concern, but Maidana has fought five times in Germany himself, and has developed a nice following there.

Betting Line - Andrily Kotelnik: -165 Marcos Rene Maidana: +140
My adjusted line - Andrily Kotelnik: +120 Marcos Rene Maidana: -150

Recommendation: Put some cash on the Argentinian prospect.

e-mail Michael Nelson


Mark Lyons said...

Agree completely!