FIREPOWER: Marcos Maidana TKO6 Josesito Lopez

****

There is a military rigidity of thought to welterweight Marcos Maidana, a charming lust for destruction that permits no deviation. This is not to mistake him for being particularly skilled—he is certainly not one of the sport’s more refined practitioners, or even one of its best—but there is something undeniably endearing about his stubborn pursuit of the knockout, and his acceptance of the inevitable abuse endured to secure it. Josesito Lopez has shown a similar commitment to machismo, and expectations for havoc were high when the two met at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, Saturday night. After six grueling rounds, Lopez succumbed to Maidana’s superior firepower, but not before emptying his own clip.

Lopez had found himself in a similar situation before: the undersized underdog in his defining victory over Victor Ortiz a year ago, he had gone to war that night, absorbing and delivering a hellacious amount of punishment before Ortiz retired with a broken jaw. This time Lopez had promised to commit to a less attritive strategy for as long as Maidana would permit it. To the delight of viewers, the crude and bruising Maidana—having only recently acquired such polished techniques as doubling his jab—would stand no more than three minutes of such restraint.

The carnage began in the second, as Maidana plunged into his opponent like a mortician possessed. Stepping forward behind his fancy new jab, Maidana dug hurtful hooks to the body and hacked away with right hands. Lopez responded by throwing right hands, by trying to time Maidana’s bull rushes with uppercuts, by setting his feet and bouncing a handful of punches off his assailant; but Maidana simply shook off whatever leather found him, and clubbed Lopez like a ledgeman. Lopez seemed to be wilting under Maidana’s maelstrom, when, as the third round drew to a close, he belted Maidana with a combination that swung the momentum in his favor.

Maidana, Margarita, Santa Fe, Argentina, is a veritable wrecking ball when allowed to lumber forward, but his poor form and slow feet make him evadable for a fighter with a strong jab and decent feet. Lopez used both in the fourth round, and countered Maidana’s telegraphed hatcheting with crisp work to the head and body. No longer obliging his own demise, Lopez re-established his jab and ripped Maidana with his worst intentions. Moving inside the gratuitous trajectory of his opponent’s blows, Lopez, his confidence brimming, staggered Maidana with combinations. This abuse continued without much retaliation into the fifth, when Maidana, 147, backed Lopez to the ropes with a right hand, stepped inside, and augured two eviscerating left hooks into Lopez’ body. Lopez fought back gamely, but Maidana had him pinned in the corner, where he whaled on him for the last thirty seconds of the round. Further manhandling awaited Lopez in the sixth.

Perhaps suffering the residuals of the previous round, Lopez, 145, began the sixth with a noticeable drop in vigour. Gone were the sharp jab and sturdy legs, and Maidana was able to bully him to the ropes without penalty. A minute into the round Lopez—now backing straight up instead of using angles—was bludgeoned by an overhand right that dropped him to a knee. Exhausting the count to compose himself, Lopez rose only to be swarmed by Maidana, and after a torrent of right hands referee Lou Moret intervened. The official time of the stoppage came at 1:18 of the sixth round.

Considering his allegiance with Al Haymon, whose handling of fighters is typified by near anathema to competition, Lopez, 30-5 (18), has taken an inordinate amount of punishment in his recent fights. He endured heavy leather during the Ortiz fight, was mercilessly trounced by junior middleweight Saul Alvarez, and beaten defenseless by Maidana. Only 28 years old, his recent run of competition, and the fact that he is not particularly well suited for his division, have added years to Lopez’ life. But while it is unlikely that he will reclaim the glory of the Ortiz fight, his dogged determination and fearlessness will continue to endear him to fans, and his limitations will always find him work. A rematch with Maidana would be welcome, as would fights with Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse, should they choose to move to welterweight. The winner—or loser—of Malignaggi-Broner, and even the come-backing Shane Mosley could pursue a fight with Lopez.

Having scored three knockouts in a row after a listless welterweight debut against Devon Alexander, Maidana seems to be acclimatizing to the division. His power accompanied him on the move, as did his chin, and while he will always struggle with boxers, when matched properly Maidana, 34-3 (31), produces mayhem. He may consider a rematch with Lopez, but it is more likely that he sets his sights on the bigger names in the division. He could try for revenge against the winner of Alexander-Khan, or face the winner of Malignaggi-Broner; if Andre Berto defeats Jesus Soto-Karass next month, Maidana might look to challenge him, and Robert Guerrero could revisit the idea of a Maidana fight when he makes his return to the ring. Like Lopez, Maidana, a limited and entertaining fighter, is a near perfect foil: while a victory over him does not lionize you, it is hard to criticize his selection as an opponent. And if he lays you out, well, you just weren’t that good to begin with. There is always a place at the table for roughnecks like these.

****

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Tags: Josesito Lopez MARCOS MAIDANA

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