Marcos Maidana embraces his role as underdog. | Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com
OXNARD, Calif. -- Marcos Maidana came to the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy as a former world champion in 2012.
Now, Maidana is one of the world champions painted onto the walls of Garcia’s gym, and he is about to enter the most significant fight of his life when he takes on Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The bout will air on Showtime pay-per-view.
“Chino is a fighter that came to me when he had his last loss against Devon Alexander, and very few thought he could ever bounce back and do what he’s done,” Garcia said during media day at the gym on April 15. “He came to learn. He listens to everything I tell him to do. He does everything he’s told to do in the gym and in the morning with [strength and conditioning coach] Alex Ariza. He follows every instruction. That’s what’s making him better. That’s what’s making him get the wins he’s gotten the last two years and now the chance to fight Mayweather.”
“El Chino” has put together a string of four consecutive victories under Garcia’s guidance, knocking out Jesus Soto Karass, Angel Martinez and Josesito Lopez before recording a decision over Adrien Broner to capture the WBA welterweight title on Dec. 14.
“You know, training with Robert Garcia is great, and Alex Ariza is my strength and conditioning coach,” Maidana said. “It’s going very well.”
Maidana has played the role of underdog a number of times in his career, and he will be a huge one against Mayweather. Maidana burst upon the boxing scene when he was brought in as a sacrificial lamb against Victor Ortiz, who was being hailed as the next big superstar, and won an epic slugfest in 2009.
“I’m used to it and I’m OK with it,” Maidana said.
Garcia said the Ortiz fight was the first time he had seen Maidana in action, and he knew then “El Chino” was something special.
“I never knew who he was and that was the first time I [had] seen him fight,” Garcia said. “A fighter that gets dropped three times [and] gets up to do what he did to Victor Ortiz ... when he came to the United States, nobody gave him a chance. The promoter and everybody brought him in as an opponent. It was a fight so Victor Ortiz could become a champion and so Victor Ortiz could become a superstar. He upset not only Victor Ortiz but the whole world.
“That tells you a lot about a fighter, going into a different country to beat the young star, the one that everyone feels is going to be the next superstar and [then] to beat him,” he added. “[That he] gets dropped three times and gets up to do what he did to Victor Ortiz is something that just tells you that’s a true warrior; and that wasn’t the only fight. Even in his fight against Amir Khan, he got dropped and very few would say, ‘I would have got up from that one.’ Hardly anyone could get up from that punch in the first round. He got up and almost pulled it out. He lost a close decision, but the fight was exciting. That’s what Chino has. He never gives up, and he will not give up against Mayweather.”
Mayweather-Maidana is expected to be one of the top pay-per-views of the year, but the underdog seemed calm, cool and collected as media and fans swarmed him during a workout.
“My desire to win, the energy of the crowd, the energy of any Latinos that are going to be at the fight --that’s what’s going to get me the win,” Maidana said.
Garcia knows what Maidana (35-3) will be up against in Mayweather (45-0), but he believes in him.
“Look, Mayweather is the best at what he does,” Garcia said. “He is the best boxer in the business, pound-for-pound the best fighter, possibly in history, but there’s always those styles, and styles make fights. A lot of people think Muhammad Ali is the best ever. He also lost. He had a few losses in his career. For me, Sugar Ray Leonard has been the best fighter; in my eyes, [he] has been the best fighter of all-time. He also lost. Being the best doesn’t necessarily mean you’re never going to lose. I think styles make fights. I think the style Maidana is going to bring in the ring is the perfect style to be able to dominate somebody like Mayweather.”
Garcia said they will not just rely on Maidana’s power punching to win the fight.
“Chino has tremendous power,” he said. “Chino can end the fight with one punch. That’s not what we’re hoping for. That would be hoping for a lucky punch. I’m not hoping for a lucky punch. I think the plan that we have and the style that Chino brings to the ring is a style that will be able to beat Mayweather. If the knockout comes, good, but we don’t want to just get lucky and land the perfect punch. I want to dominate Mayweather, winning round by round, and hopefully if it goes to the decision, we get that decision on our side.”
WBO super featherweight champion Mikey Garcia, Robert’s younger brother, also thinks Maidana has the tools to pull out a victory over Mayweather.
“I haven’t sparred with him, but I have seen a lot of sparring sessions with him,” Mikey said. “He’s working on a lot of things with my brother. It looks like he’s really motivated and well-prepared. He’s going to use all of the abilities he has to make it the best fight possible. We hope he can achieve all that and come out with the win. He’s got good chances. He’s got the power and the strength and aggression. He’s going to have to make it an uncomfortable fight. He’s got the heart and a lot of things that we can use. That’s what we’re trying to do with my brother and his team and make it the best fight possible.”
Follow Carlos Arias on Twitter @PunchyMcGee.