Sunday, June 28, 2009

Maidana Forces Himself Into Forefront With Scintillating Upset

Micheal Nelson gives his thoughts on Marcos Rene Maidana's stirring come from behind upset win over Victor Ortiz.

Marcos Rene Maidana wore a discouraged look on his face, having just suffered his third knockdown within two rounds. His young opponent threw quicker, shorter punches to go along with jolting power Maidana had not yet encountered in his career.

He continued to fight on, looking to land the same right hand that deposited Victor Ortiz on the canvas in the opening round. But the speed and technique deficit became increasingly apparent in rounds three and four and the momentum was firmly in Ortiz' corner.

Still, the hard-hitting Argentinian confidently came forward. He had been here before, having engaged in a gut check four months earlier in Germany against WBA titlist Andriy Kotelnik. It went into the books as a split decision loss, but most who viewed the fight had a healthy respect for the grit Maidana displayed in the championship rounds as he tore into Kotelnik in hopes of taking the verdict out of the hands of the judges.

The 22 year old Victor Ortiz, while looking phenomenal in making short work of most of his victims, had never gone through anything close to that in a professional prize fight.

So perhaps it shouldn't have been a shock when Ortiz came away from a violent exchange in the middle of round 5 a changed man. While Maidana was becoming more comfortable with the young man's power, Ortiz was beginning to unravel. He had a gash over his eye from one of Maidana's slashing right hands. He got hammered with two more big right hands as the round ended and walked back to his corner on unsteady legs.

When his trainer threatened to stop the fight, Victor was silent. His fighting spirit had been broken by his aggressive opponent. He came out for the sixth, but Maidana ended the proceedings quickly as Ortiz crumpled under an onslaught of right hands. In conjunction with the fight doctor, he decided he had enough.

Having now been in two of the top ten fights of 2009, Maidana's future is promising. He makes for an excellent bout with any of the best that 140 has to offer. The winner of the July 18th matchup between Andriy Kotelnik and Amir Khan could be a natural fight to make... given that a Kotelnik win sets up an appealing rematch. I have my doubts that Khan's trainer Freddie Roach is ready to throw the explosive, but iffy-whiskered Brit into the lion's den.

A fight with fellow South American bangers Juan Urango or Ricardo Torres would be a treat as well. The jr. welterweight division has developed into a vibrant mix of young personalities within the last year, and with his scintillating victory over a highly touted knockout artist in a headlining HBO bout, Maidana has pushed himself out of obscurity and near the forefront.

Meanwhile, the way Victor Ortiz ended the fight and the subsequent comments made in his interview with Max Kellerman ("I'm young but I don't think I deserve to be getting beat up like this") can't be encouraging to fans hoping for an ascent to stardom for the Golden Boy Promotions (and by default, HBO) prodigy. But he's young and talented enough to bounce back. There's a good chance that the loss can make him a better, tougher fighter.

His time may still come. For now, Maidana has the spotlight. There's little doubt that he'll use it to make boxing a little brighter.

e-mail Michael Nelson