Something Wicked: Amir Khan Finally Meets Marcos Maidana

NEW YORK - MAY 10: British boxer Amir Khan poses with the WBA World light welterweight championship belt in front of the Brooklyn Bridge on May 10, 2010 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by John Gichigi/Getty Images)

Amir Khan and Marcos Maidana, two of the top junior welterweights in the world, finally meet in a potentially explosive bout on December 11 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. Khan, who won a Silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, will be looking to silence critics who have accused him of ducking not only Maidana but punchers in general in the wake of his humiliating first-round KO defeat at the hands of commonplace Breidis Prescott two years ago. Indeed, that Khan has been hesitant to meet Maidana is less rumor than an almost-fact—about as close to the truth you can get in boxing.

The Cruelest Sport noted this odd situation a couple of months ago:

The strange case of Amir Khan, Marcos Maidana, and Golden Boy Promotions – -where GBP has contractually obligated Maidana to avoid Khan for three fights or a calendar year, whichever comes first – – has been compared to the way Top Rank is building a potential bout between Juan Maunuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa by expert after expert. Ummm, no. Gamboa is not the number one contender to Juan Manuel Lopez, or vice versa, and is not obligated, at least theoretically, to face Lopez or be stripped of his title. Maidana, as BMX Interim Satrap, is a mandatory to Khan, whose handlers appear wary of matching him up with the crude but destructive Argentine. Maidana, in effect, has accepted one of the most comprehensive step-aside packages in boxing history. Rumors that a 401K plan and stock options in GBP are included have not yet been verified.

Maidana was frustrated enough by the situation to force a purse bid, where other promoters might have had the opportunity to stage the fight. Golden Boy Promotions had to work hard from having Maidana throw a monkeywrench into the Amir Khan Express. In the end, as much as Richard Schaefer would like to pat himself on the back and Khan would like to posture via Twitter, it was Maidana who pushed for the fight. Purse bids are risky propositions and for a fighter to insist on one is unusual. Eric Morel tried it for a bout with Fernando Montiel and came out of it—money-wise–looking like a man who fell under a threshing machine. He withdrew from the Montiel fight with an injury of dubious origins. A purse bid might have also been a disaster for Golden Boy since Khan is reportedly guaranteed a minimum of $1.25 million per fight, allowing another promoter insight into just how much he would have to offer to win the rights to a promotion that common sense says belongs in England. To a wily promoter, say Frank Warren, for example, it would have been the equivalent of a poker player knowing one of the hole cards of his opponent. In addition, Maidana would have been entitled to 45 percent of the purse bid under WBX rules, which would have been a few pence shy of what Khan expects from Golden Boy.

As for the fight itself, humdinger, doozy, lulu, peach, and crackerjack should suffice to describe it in the short run. In fact, the likelihood of this bout going the distance in minimal. “The reason that I want to fight Maidana so badly is that people have been saying that I have a suspect chin, and this, that and the other,” Khan told Lem Satterfield at “But, I can honestly say that I’m going to go into this fight, and I’m going to win this fight. And I’m going to knock him out. Because I know with the style I’ve got, he can’t come with the style that I’ve got.”

Khan, the superior boxer, will be looking to assert his jab and run off combinations from the outside. If Maidana flounders at mid-range–as he often does, with his feet parallel or even crossed–Khan will be able to nail him with long rights hands and hooks. Maidana gets hit more often than a windshield does with gnats on a cross-country drive.

As crude as he looked against DeMarcus Corley last month—a fight that might have been scored for the underdog—Maidana still has the kind of power that can turn out lights quicker than an electrical outage. “Chop Chop” had the advantage of being a southpaw, but no topnotcher should be struggling with Corley at this point. It could have been an off-night for Maidana, or it could have been a sign of things to come. According to reports from South America, Maidana was lax in camp and struggled to make the 140-pound limit with a late burst of overtraining. “Maidana, for his part,” wrote Sebastián Contursi of ESPN Deportes, “could not measure up physically, the byproduct of rapid weight loss in recent weeks after also going through prolonged inactivity as a result of problems with his ex-manager.”

Every now and then Maidana looks so clumsy in the ring–flailing away with his feet empretzeled and his chin exposed–that it seems impossible that he should trouble a world-class fighter. Khan is skilled, no doubt, but Maidana probably feels he will only have to land a handful of punches to send Khan into the Land of Nod. Demarcus Corley claimed that Maidana was not as big a puncher as generally thought. If so, then perhaps his reputation as a bonecrusher–solidified when he nearly turned Victor Ortiz into mulch last year–has more to do with how frangible Ortiz may be. After all, Ortiz had already been suspected of having some tinkle in his jaw and there were even reports of him being smacked out of sorts during sparring sessions in California. Either way, Maidana remains the biggest puncher Khan has ever faced; Breidis Prescott looked like Earnie Shavers against Khan, but has looked less than threatening since shocking the M.E.N. Arena in 2008. Maidana will also have to bore in on Khan and start roughhousing on the inside. Khan, like many contemporary fighters, is clueless in the clinches, and Maidana will have a serious edge in close, where he can use Khan as a tambourine.

According to the experts out there, those who spout on about quick twitch muscles, Khan has resurrected, redeemed, and rejuvenated himself since the Prescott debacle by defeating a schoolteacher (Oisin Fagan), an ancient ex-bantamweight (Marco Antonio Barrera), and three punchless fighters: a solid if unexceptional titleholder without power (Andrei Kotelnik), and Dimitri Salita and Paul Malignaggi, neither of whom could disturb a flowerbed. Suspicions about his chin–dented by a ragtag bunch whose membership includes Prescott, a completely shot Michael Gomez, Willie Limond, and Rachid Drilzane–will be confirmed or refuted by Maidana in December. So will his “superstar” status.

See Also:

Aftermath: A Little Perspective on Khan-Malignaggi

Prefab Stardom: Is Amir Khan Ready for America?


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  • nealo

    I have not seen Maidana fight but judging by the comments and the way Khan and his team have avoided this fight, he does at least seem to present a threat. Khan’s recent opponents have all been eminently beatable and all have lacked a real dig. It has appeared that Khan has followed that well worn path of facing fighters, either past their best or moving up in weight or preferably both!. Good to see that he is now facing genuine competition even if his team have been forced into it.
    Khan does seem to have improved under Freddy Roach’s tutelage but the distress he was in against both Willie Lihmond and Michael Gomez (who by that stage was nothing more than a head down brawler) makes you wonder how he will cope with real pressure. At least this may be a pay per view worth the cash rather than his previous glorified sparring sessions.
    Thankfully the end of the year does seem to be delivering some decent fights although why an excellent match such as Marquez / Katsidis has to be on the same night as Froch / Abraham is beyond me. I know promoters are out for the money and not the long term health of the sport but come on guys!!. Anyway Froch needs to get his head down and stop winging as his no defence style is likely to severely tested against Abraham. If his head is not right, he is in trouble.
    There seems to be talk of Vlad K facing Derek Chisora following Chisora’s good victory over Sexton for the Commonwealth title. Probably far too early for Chisora but at least he will have a go which is something that cant be said for many of the brothers K opponents.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      H Nealo,

      Maidana is a crude brute in the ring, but he does have some cunning on the inside and punches very hard….but his shots are wide and wild. Khan has every advantage over him except for fighting in the trenches…and, of course, the questionable chin. I remember there being talk about whether Gomez was even fit enough to earn a license in the UK a few years ago…Gomez hurting Khan is bad news for any Khan backers, but if Khan uses his skills and athleticism, he might be able to stop Maidana late with an accumulation of blows. Maidana, after all, was down three times against Ortiz and was down earlier in his career. This fight is well worth the PPV charge in the UK, I believe, since Maidana never stops pressing forward and Khan is a fairly sharp puncher. The intangibles–as well as the style matchup–make this an intriguing fight and will determine, to me, Khan’s real standing as a world-class fighter. I purchased Khan-Barrera because of the decent undercard, but I knew the main event would be rubbish. Dave Parrris didn’t help make things any better!

      In the States the schedule has been booked up on HBO over November and December, so Showtime decided to take a risk and put the Super Six bout up against Marquez-Katsidis. This looks more like a network oversight than a promoter’s move.

      If Froch is distracted, he’ll be in a fix. But he does have the advantage in knowing Abraham will likely start slow, allowing Froch time to get into the bout mentally. I think that will be a fine fight between two professionals with tics that may play heavily somewhere along the way.

      I haven’t seen Chisora, but it looks like he doesn’t have nearly the experience to challenge any Klitschko right now. Is he considered someone a cut above domestic/European level at this point? I agree with you on Chisora “having a go” at it. With added revenue from UK television in addition to German TV and a healthy gate, it would not be surprising if Chisora earned around £2 million. And if he won, the riches in his future would be staggering.

  • nealo

    Hi Carlos, Yes at the time there were questions as to whether Gomez should still have a license but he steamed into Khan from the off and Khan looked very uncomfortable until Gomez ran out of energy (and took too many shots). More worrying from Khan’s point of view was the Limond fight as Limond was considered a light puncher but Khan was all over the place after geting tagged.
    If Chisora gets the chance, he should grab it with both hands. Is he ready?, almost certainly not but whats he got to lose. He is young at 26 and so can come again if he loses, there are plenty of other heavyweights that are continually recycled. At this stage he has limited experience and is probably European level at best but he does seem to have reasonable skills, good power and plenty of self confidence. My main concern would be his conditioning, he came in at 244lbs fo the Sexton fight and at 6ft 1′ that is surely too heavy. He was blowing by rnd 4 in the Sexton fight and whilst he found a second wind and boxed well, he would have to be in peak condition against Vlad k.
    Chisora, or more likely his management, may feel he needs more bouts before taking the ultimate challenge but whats to say he would not lose one of those and blow the opportunity. Before the Sexton fight there was talk of the winner fighting Tyson Fury (another who seems to have a distant relationship with a conditioning coach). Fury has some skill and power and a lot of heart but has a long way to go to become a true contender. I did not see his last fight but the one previous with John Mcdermott was dreadful, at times resembling a Friday night pub brawl.
    Chisora should definately take the Vlad K fight if offered. Given the paucity of available challengers to Vladimir, i think Chisora represents as good an option as any of the other so called contenders out there.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi Neal,

      I took some time to look up Chisora on Youtube. I saw a very big man kiss his opponent during pre-fight trash talk, bite another on the ear, and barely throw a right hand or left hook in all the clips I watched put together. Oh boy. He definitely has to take the Klitschko fight if it’s offered….otherwise, he runs the risk of losing a domestic title fight for £5,000. He seems a bit of a nervous type, to me.