The wintry months have certainly brought some cold weather, especially in the deep south of Wales, meanwhile after a slow year for boxing with big fights not getting signed or falling through, the traditionally cold calendar months have caught fire. Since November we’ve been treated to Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito, Sergio Martinez vs. Paul Williams and Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Michael Katsidis to name a few.
Next up is a fight that has long been looked forward to and thankfully the powers that be have made it happen: Amir Khan vs. Marcos Maidana for the right to be called the true WBA Jnr. Welterweight Champion. (Khan has been ’regular’ champion while Maidana the ’interim’).
Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada is a fitting venue for this fight which is of huge importance in a division that is also occupied by Devon Alexander and Timothy Bradley, who meet in January; possibly for the right to meet the winner of Saturday’s clash. British fans and certainly Ricky Hatton fans will not be best pleased that one Joe Cortez is the 3rd man in this clash, infamous to the Brits for his handling of the Ricky Hatton vs. Floyd Mayweather fight, Cortez is experienced and lets be honest, he’s had a lot more good than bad nights.
For me this looks a very evenly matched contest between two fighters, who both expect to win while knowing the dangers that the other fighter brings to the table. Rugged Argentinian Maidana (29-1, 27 KO’s) is rightly seen as the puncher in this bout while England’s Khan (23-1, 17 KO’s) is seen as the better pure boxer and more gifted technically. It’s fair to say Khan brings decent power to the contest himself though its his durability and punch resistance (or lack of) that will be key to who wins the fight. Maidana is the first noted puncher that Khan has faced since his 90 second defeat at the hands of the limited Bredis Prescott. Khan has done well since then, moving up a division and winning the WBA belt beating the wily Andreas Kotelnik on points. Kotelnik, is a ‘common’ opponent, who only just edged Marcos Maidana a few years back, again Maidana rebounded from the points defeat to shock everyone with a TKO victory over undefeated Victor Ortiz in a cracking fight that had both men on the canvas.
After his only defeat, Khan turned to Freddie Roach as his new trainer and has had high quality sparring with P4P No.1 Manny Pacquiao. Last time out Khan impressed in his US debut to stop Paulie Malignaggi in 11 rounds. Khan showed his speed and boxing ability in that fight and more importantly stuck to a gameplan, which he needs to do this time out. Maidana last time out gave a flat performance against veteren DeMarcus Corley and was taken the distance.
This for me is Khan’s ‘Judgement day’ – his chance to show the Prescott result was a fluke, an accident. Great fighters like Lennox Lewis and Thomas Hearns have comeback stronger from shocking KO defeats. Khan is trying to prove that he can too. Maidana is looking to also show that he’s more than just a banger and a genuine ‘World’ Champion. There is no question that both these fighters will enter the ring fully focused and determined to leave the ring the victor as there is a lot more at stake than just winning – the usual bragging rights in the division, huge TV exposure, bigger fights in the future and for Khan, a feeling of redemption in that he will have beaten a known puncher and in his own words “Silenced the critics“, are all up for grabs.
So what will happen this Saturday/Sunday morning in Las Vegas?
Freddy Roach will have almost programmed Khan to box to a plan from the outside, move and jab, keeping out of harm’s way. This for me is the right way to beat Maidana, Khan skill wise is a better fighter, and he’s quicker too.
Maidana has a good skillset but he’s not going to win a technical fight or jab-fest, he has to cut the ring off and close the gap and fight on the inside. (If Cortez lets him!)
I do believe that at some point Maidana is going to find those blows that will be decisive, I personally don’t think that Khan can take a shot at this level, against a noted puncher. Khan will not crumble like he did against Prescott and I can see him being ahead on the cards at the midway stage but Maidana will keep coming and looking for the finishing shots and around the 8th round I think he will get through and Cortez will count Amir out.
So, it’s Maidana for me, and the rest of the writers to follow with their own predictions.
Ryan McHugh: The deciding factor with this fight obviously is ‘the chin’. We all know Khan’s improved a shed load under Freddie Roach and he has all the tools to be the very best in the division, but has his chin really improved? He hasn’t been in with a banger since his loss to Prescott and this will be the acid test for him against the biggest puncher in the division, Marcos Maidana. My prediction for the fight is a Khan win, whether or not it’ll be a stoppage or a points win though, who knows? I think Khan will prove to be too elusive for the one dimensional Maidana and should manage to avoid most of the big punches. Khan has the punch volume, and enough power to stop Maidana, but will he have the guts to go all out for the stoppage and risk hanging that chin out to dry? I predict a late Khan stoppage with the referee jumping in, but if Maidana lands, it’s game over for Khan!!
Scott Graveson: I’ve said all along that Maidana will stop the “boy from Bolton” and although Maidana looked bloody awful last time I can’t find myself backing Khan. He will get over confident at some point and caught hard, no matter what Freddie has got into him, their is always the cockiness that shows through in the interviews and that same cockiness is likely to show through in the fight. Although I can see Khan boxing on the back foot as he did against Kotelnik and dominating, I can’t help but feel Marcos will land that bomb. If Khan can take it then kudos to the kid, but I can’t see him doing it.
Bobby Mac: Can Khan survive the huge crunching swings of Maidana to establish respect and cruise to another decision? Maybe, Khan will certainly be the bookmaker’s favourite for this fight. I see Maidana as having the right style and attributes to eventually splash him into Bolivia on the Thames sooner than later, but like any fight, each has to prove he can win in the ring thankfully.
Joe Mitchell: The first power puncher Khan has faced since Prescott, this fight all comes down to Khans chin. Khan has moved up to a more comfortable weight ,fights smarter and has the best trainer and conditioner in the world. Therefore I believe his ability to avoid and take a punch has improved and he will have a superb gameplan. Khan wins by TKO within 7 rounds.
Jason Hunton:On paper this has all the ingredients of a great fight, a big puncher not afraid to let his hands go versus an orthodox boxer whos shown vunerabilities in the past against much lesser punchers on his way up the domestic scene. However I see this one turning out to be a bit more of a mis-match than the promotional outfit would have us believe. Maidana will have his moments early on, but Khan will be too mobile for Marcos to be presented the opportunity to really plant his feet. Khan may adopt the blueprint for the Kotelnik fight for the first 6 rounds, that is staying on the back foot, throwing one twos, racking up the points, then in the second half don’t be suprised to see Khan step up to the plate and force the stoppage later on. The Victor Ortiz fight showed Ortiz is not immune to the canvas himself, and Khan can punch. My predction – KHAN TKO10
Ian Ritchie: Khan is the clear favourite going into this contest. He is much improved, and has the better tools at his disposal by a long long way. However, I’ve just re-watched the Prescott fight a couple of times, and while I concede that Khan’s defence since that loss has been almost impenetrable, he has been largely facing non-punchers. I can’t help but feel that Khan’s chin will crumble under the big punches that Maidana will inevitably throw.
Ben: Maidana has a great punch and his big chance lies in landing a big shot on Khan’s suspect chin before Khan can get into his rhythm. Maidana himself is easily beatable as Victor Ortiz was proving before his lack of heart exposed him. If Khan can survive the opening 4 rounds then I’d back him to stop stop the Argentine in the 10th or cruise to a wide unanimous decision.
J.Golden: This fight is making me think of the first fight between Vernon Forrest and Ricardo Mayorga. Vernon had all the skills, but Mayorga’s wide angled, clubbing shots were too much for him. Trying to outbox a dangerous puncher with a normal style can be relatively easy, trying to do the same with a guy that punches from unexpected angles is very difficult.Maidana will land at some point, and when he does it’s game over. Amir could catch him on the way in though, so this should be a good fight while it lasts.
Lee Skavydis: Khan can win two ways. He can either try to box to a decision and try and avoid the power punches of Maidana or he can try and end it early in the hope he does not get caught when in a trade.
I change my mind every day about this fight, but today I am going out on a limb and saying that Khan will somehow get the win. Freddie Roach is one of the best trainers in the world and he always has tricks up his sleeve!