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‘Iron’ Maidana Set to Light up The Joint

Story by Mariano A. Agmi
Photos by Chris Cozzone

Argentine strongman Marcos “El Chino” Maidana (27-1, 26 KOs) returns to the US and HBO on March 27th to defend his WBA interim light welterweight title against number two ranked contender Victor “Mermelada” Cayo (24-0, 16 KOs) at the Joint, located in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“El Chino” burst onto the American scene last June, winning the interim strap in a spectacular five-knockdown slugfest against rising star Victor Ortiz. After trading knockdowns in round one and being dropped twice in round two, Maidana stormed his way back into the fight, landing hellish right hands that dropped and forced the young Mexican-American to quit in round six.

Blessed with raw power and an iron determination, Maidana impressed the American media and fight fans so much that the 26-year-old bomber found himself named amongst the most exciting up and coming fighters to watch today. “The Ortiz fight opened up many opportunities for my career,” explains Maidana. “I want to fight in the US, and this performance went a long way in launching my career outside of Argentina.”

Also a young southpaw, Victor Cayo is stylistically worlds apart from the power-punching Ortiz. Known as “Mermelada” (Spanish for “marmalade”) due to his slick style and boxing ability, Cayo is the best pure boxer that Maidana has faced.

“We viewed some of Cayo’s fights, he’s a good boxer with quick feet and fast hands,” states the soft-spoken yet confident Argentine. “We’re looking to use lateral movement to cut off the ring. I’m focusing on a body attack that will wear down the Dominican and set him up for bigger punches later in the fight,” explains Maidana on how he plans to deal with the fleet footed Cayo.

The 25-year-old Cayo has quietly risen up the ranks, accumulating a record of 24-0 (16 KOs) with impressive wins over former lightweight titlist Julio Diaz and undefeated prospect Julio Reyes. Like his stablemate Sergio Martinez, Mermelada fights in an awkward manner, often dropping his hands and daring his opponent to attack.

“They’re similar, but Cayo is more of a boxer while Martinez is more of a puncher,” asserts Maidana. “I’m ready for whatever style he brings.”

Maidana acknowledged that fighting a pure boxer is often a tougher task than facing an in your face puncher like Ortiz. The Argentine became so accustomed to winning by knockout that a split-decision loss to then WBA 140 pound champion Andriy Kotelnik in February 2009 convinced El Chino to learn the subtleties of the sport. “I decided to rectify a few things after that loss,” observed Maidana. “I tend to come right after my opponent from the opening bell, so [trainer] Miguel Diaz and I are working on setting up my punches better and being more patient.”

Diaz and Maidana have now been together for three straight bouts, beginning with the barn-burner against Ortiz. “The fight with Ortiz was so intense that I had no choice but to engage in a brawl,” admits El Chino. “My next fight took place in Argentina, so I was able to relax in front of my countrymen and display my skills.”

Maidana showed speed, patience, and deadly accuracy in beating William Gonzalez by third round knockout last November. Maidana agrees that it will take that type of focused determination to down a slick boxer like Cayo: “We’re ready to fight and we’ll see if he can take my power. If he can, I’m prepared to box and win by decision.”

Will the real WBA 140lb Champion please stand up?

Following Maidana’s interim title winning performance, there has been wide speculation as to why a bout against WBA light welterweight champion Amir Khan was not consummated.

Maidana dispelled the rumors: “It looks like Khan either didn’t want to fight me or didn’t think it was in his best interest to face me at this time,” explains Maidana. “Instead, my manager negotiated a 3-fight deal where I received step-aside money with the understanding that after two fights each, we’ll unify the titles in a bigger fight.”

El Chino is unnerved by the fact that he is relegated to fighting a dangerous, virtual unknown while Khan and his next opponent, Paulie Malignaggi, will fight for a larger purse on a bigger stage in a few months.

In fact, Maidana is not concerned with the actions of any of his fellow 140lb titlists, including WBO Champion Tim Bradley and WBC/IBF Champion Devon Alexander. The fighter feels that in due time, his peers will have no choice but to fight him.

“I feel that I am amongst the best boxers at this weight class. I feel that I can fight well against any of those guys and I’m waiting to face them all eventually. I don’t have a preference as to which guy I’ll fight next – I’m focusing on my career and I leave it up to my manager, Mario Margossian, to set up those fights.”

However, probed as to how a future bout between him and Khan would play out, Maidana answers assertively: “I’ve seen several of Khan’s fights and I know him well. He would not be able to withstand my attack.” Maidana concludes: “I’m sure I’d knock him out”.

Maidana vs. Cayo is part of a World Championship doubleheader also featuring the rematch between Joan Guzman and Ali “Rush Hour” Funeka for the vacant IBF lightweight title. The bouts will air live on HBO’s Boxing After Dark beginning at 10:30pm EST.



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