When the welterweight match between Marcos “El Chino” Maidana Vs. Josesito Lopez was announced by Golden Boy Promotions – it was a terrific style match-up that made perfect sense to make such a fight. And at this point in both fighters’ careers, it was not necessarily to be seen as a crossroads fight, but certainly the prospect of a very definitive moment for either man to stake his claim as a force to be reckoned with in the welterweight division, among other things, was and is clearly present.
It has been nearly four years since the general boxing public became aware of who one Marcos Maidana was, when he was poised to face the heavy favorite, “Vicious” Victor Ortiz in a Jr. Welterweight WBA interim bout. It was a fight in which Maidana won by 6th-round TKO, shocking all in attendance and watching on HBO.
In the days leading up to that fight, I, myself, saw something in Maidana. At the time, still not very knowledgeable on who he was, something caught my eye, just by images of him in his media day workout. Initially, I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. But soon after, I realized Maidana possessed a hidden confidence about him that he carries at all times. That confidence surely had to have helped Maidana travel from his native Argentina to fight in Ortiz’ adopted backyard of southern California on what was to be Ortiz’ coming out party.
Only once the opening bell rang that night on June 27th in 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Ortiz quickly realized he was in with the wrong guy, and his coming out party would soon be crashed. Maidana stood, traded, and mixed it up with Ortiz, and overcame tasting the canvas twice, before also dropping Ortiz twice and ultimately making Ortiz quit in the first minute of the 6th round. It was evident that Ortiz simply wanted no mas.
Since that fight, Maidana(33-3, 30 KO’s), 29, has gone on to fight an impressive list of names ranging from Erik Morales, to Amir Khan, to Devon Alexander – winning, losing, and racking up experience in the process. He moved up from the 140-lb. division up to welterweight, but the big change for Maidana, and the wisest one he could have made considering a boxer’s shelf life is not very long, was to obtain the services of trainer-of-the-year, Robert Garcia. Garcia joined Maidana after the Alexander loss(Maidana’s first fight at 147-lbs.) and has since managed to pull Marcos slightly away from his hard-nosed, brawler style into more of a boxer-puncher. The most significant difference in Maidana’s technique is his left jab, a key instrument that had been quite absent from his toolbox in his career, prior. Maidana showed the Garcia-tuned version of himself best when he soundly beat the sturdy veteran, Jesus Soto-Karass, by TKO in the 8th round on September 15th of last year. Thereafter, Maidana knocked Angel Martinez out in 3 rounds in Argentina, three months later. Now Maidana will face-off against a fighter who also made Ortiz quit, Josesito Lopez, as they will be fighting for the vacant WBA Inter-Continental title.
Lopez(30-5, 18 KO’s), 28, was also the huge underdog when he jumped up from his mostly comfortable junior welterweight limit, up seven pounds, to fight Ortiz. Almost exactly three years from Maidana’s win at Staples Center. In a fight very similar to Ortiz-Maidana, Lopez also engaged in a toe-to-toe war with Ortiz. In an exciting back and forth, action packed fight, Lopez’ heart and surprising power shots prevailed, as the later-coined “Riverside Rocky” went on to shatter Ortiz’ jaw and eventually made him quit on his stool after the 9th round. Since then, Lopez was basically thrown into the lion’s den as he bravely accepted a fight against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez(the guy who Ortiz was all but set to fight, assuming Ortiz was going to beat Lopez) – at Alvarez’ much higher weight of 154-lbs. A move that only made sense from a financial aspect for Lopez. But he paid the cost, physically, as he was down in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds, ultimately getting TKO’d by Alvarez in the 5th round of their September 15th fight last year. Lopez was game, as he always is, and though he got in a few nice shots against Canelo, he was simply outgunned by the bigger and stronger man – at a weight he had no business ever being in.
On paper, and to the eye, this fight is really as split down the middle as it gets. No true favorite here. Two fan-friendly fighters, who come to fight – and to WIN. Both Maidana and Lopez have terrific chins, and Maidana has a slight edge in power, though that power has mildly declined since his departure from 140-lbs. Maidana should start off early by using his jab and tagging Lopez with some stinging shots to see how well Lopez reacts to his power. And though Robert Garcia has done some slight remodeling to Maidana’s style, Maidana will always revert back to his brawler ways if he’s lured into an exchange, like he did against Soto-Karass, and Lopez is no different. Lopez’ trainer, Henry Ramirez, has already stated that the game plan they have formulated for Maidana, is for Lopez to pick and choose his spots in which to attack Maidana. Both guys have been in tremendous wars, and Maidana is debatably a bit more shopworn, however, Canelo Alvarez did do a lot of damage to Lopez’ body in their fight, so on that end, they’re seemingly even.
At the end of all the arguments and justifications as to who wins this fight and why or how, it really doesn’t matter. Why, you ask? Because this is an excellent match-up any way you want to look at it. A bout that I see going all twelve rounds. I expect a lot of back and forth action, and I see both fighters trying to outbox the other, however once each chin is checked – there will be some violent and barbaric exchanges. I see Maidana winning a close, split decision, but ultimately I will have to exhaust a promoter tagline that reads as follows: “the fans will be the real winners here,” as I truly believe we are all in for what could be an explosive fight come Saturday night, regardless of which fighter walks away with the win.
Showtime Sports will air Marcos Maidana Vs. Josesito Lopez – live from the Home Depot Center, Saturday, June 8th at 10PM EST/7 PM PST.