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Khan-Maidana: Head-to-head analysis
Amir Khan's speed and all-around ability will trump Marcos Maidana's power on Saturday in Las Vegas. Marcos Maidana (right) has a puncher's chance to beat Amir Khan but it's more likely that he won't be able to cope with Khan' speed and all-around ability. Photo / Naoki Fukuda
AMIR KHAN vs. MARCOS MAIDANA
When: Saturday, Dec. 11
Where: Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas
TV: HBO, 9:30 pm. ET / 6:30 PT
Weight: Junior welterweight (140 pounds)
Title(s) at stake: Khan’s WBA junior welterweight title
Also on the card: Victor Ortiz vs. Lamont Peterson, 12 rounds, junior welterweights (first TV fight); Joan Guzman vs. Jason Davis, 10 rounds, junior welterweights; Jesse Vargas vs. Ramon Montano, 8 rounds, junior welterweights; Seth Mitchell vs. Taurus Sykes, 8 rounds, heavyweights.
Height / Reach: 5-10 (178cm) / 71 (180cm)
Hometown: Bolton, England
Nickname: King Khan
Turned pro: 2005
Record: 23-1 (17 knockouts)
Trainer: Freddie Roach
Fight-by-fight: Click here
The Ring rating: No. 2 junior welterweight
Titles: WBA junior welterweight (2009-current)
Biggest victories: Marco Antonio Barrera, March 14, 2009, TD 5; Andreas Kotelnik, July 18, 2009, UD 12 (wins title); Paulie Malignaggi, May 15, 2010, TKO 11
Loss: Breidis Prescott, Sept. 6, 2008, KO 1
Height: 5-9 (175cm) / 70 (178)
Hometown: Jose Leon Suarez, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nickname: El Chino
Turned pro: 2004
Record: 29-1 (27 knockouts)
Trainer: Miguel Diaz
Fight-by-fight: Click here
The Ring rating: No. 4 junior welterweight
Biggest victories: Victor Ortiz, June 27, 2009, TKO 6; Victor Cayo, March 27, 2010, KO 6; DeMarcus Corley, Aug. 28, 2010, UD 12
Loss: Andreas Kotelnik, Feb. 7, 2009, SD 12
Skills: No contest here. Maidana has better skills than he and trainer Miguel Diaz let on. For example, you don’t fight an opponent as capable as Andreas Kotelnik on at least even terms for 12 rounds if you don’t know your way around the ring. The Argentine was a good amateur fighter. That said, Maidana doesn’t have the natural gifts of Khan. The Briton, an Olympic silver medalist at 17, is a complete boxer. He fights out of a classic stand-up stance, from which he throws a terrific jab to set up quick, accurate combinations. He also has excellent footwork, which allows him to throw punches from advantageous angles and make it difficult for his opponents to hit him cleanly. He also has underrated defensive skills, his range, reflexes and foot speed difficult to overcome. Khan was a very good boxer when he arrived at trainer Freddie Roach’s gym. Now, he’s an exceptional one.
Power: Diaz said that Maidana isn’t the most-skillful boxer in the world but has the single most-important skill – the ability to knock his opponent senseless at any time. Indeed, he probably punches as hard as any fighter in the world pound for pound, as his 90-percent KO percentage indicates. He swears he doesn’t look for knockouts, “They just come.” Freddie Roach, Khan’s trainer, said his fighter’s power shouldn’t be underestimated. Khan is a big, strong 140-pounder who throws fast and accurate punches with good form. That generally translates to good power. Roach predicted that Khan will ultimately be recognized as the biggest-punching junior welterweight in years, perhaps after this fight.
Speed and athletic ability:
Edge: Khan has frightening speed, as his opponents find out when they’re face to face with him. For example, Paulie Malignaggi is a very good, quick-handed boxer and athlete but was rendered helpless in the face of Khan’s superior speed. Khan also has quick feet, which allow him to get in to inflict damage and get out to avoid it. Roach compared Khan’s foot speed to that of Manny Pacquiao, his star fighter. And a quick glance at how gracefully Khan moves about the ring is enough to demonstrate that he is a very good athlete. Maidana probably has better-than-average speed and he’s obviously a good athlete but he falls far short of Khan in this department.
Defense: Maidana is there to be hit because of his power-punching, aggressive style but almost always lands more and harder punches himself. The best example of that might be his battle with Ortiz, in which he was knocked down three times but came back to stop Ortiz in the sixth round. Khan is difficult to hit cleanly in spite of his rigid stand-up. He uses his long reach to keep his opponent at a distance and inflict damage at the same time. He keeps his gloves up. He has very quick reflexes, which allow him avoid punches. And he is able to use his foot speed to get out of danger when necessary. Don’t be surprised if he never takes that big punch that would test his chin.
Chin: Khan’s ability to take a punch (or lack thereof) and Maidana’s power probably is the most-intriguing aspect of this fight. What will happen when (if?) the Argentine lands a clean shot? The Briton has been down four times in his career, including his stunning first-round KO loss against Prescott in 2008. His chin could decide how far he goes in this business because he has all the other attributes it takes to become a star. Maidana goes down, too, but he gets up and almost always turns the tables on his opponent. He obviously is more resilient than his opponent on Saturday.
Edge: Maidana has gone more than six rounds only four times, including two 12-round fights – his split-decision loss to Kotelnik and a decision over Corley in his last fight. So it’s difficult to gauge his conditioning over his career. He seemed to be in excellent shape against Kotelnik, throwing hard punches from beginning to end, but faded down the stretch against Corley. Diaz said he has emphasized fitness during a two-month camp in Las Vegas during which the fighter had no distractions. He insists Maidana will be in prime shape. Khan is very disciplined when it comes to his training, particularly under task-master strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza. He generally is the same fighter in the 12th round as he is in the first.
Wear and tear:
Edge: Maidana is only 27 but, because of his style, already has taken considerable punishment. The Ortiz fight alone was the type of battle that permanently takes something out of a fighter. That said, the slugger almost certainly has much more to give. Khan, 24, has been rocked a few times and stopped once but has never taken anything resembling a beating. He is more or less as fresh as he was when he turned pro in 2005.
Edge: The knockout loss to Prescott was a blessing in disguise because it brought Khan to the U.S. to work with Roach, who is recognized as one of the best trainers in the world. Roach is a master at devising game plans and conveying strategy to his fighters. He also demands diligent conditioning. As a result, Khan has improved considerably in a short time and his confidence is soaring. Diaz, a one-time trainer of the year, is known more as a cut man than a trainer but obviously knows what he’s doing. And he and Maidana seemed to have meshed well. Still, Khan has a significant edge here.
Outcome: Maidana will be Maidana, attacking his opponent from the outset with pain in mind. He will soon discover that this opponent is not like the rest, though. He will be shocked at Khan’s remarkable hand speed and will be unable to deal with it, as so many others have experienced. Khan will land hard, accurate punches consistently from the outside as Maidana tries to figure out how to get to a bigger and better boxer. Ultimately, he’ll fail. Khan will use his reach advantage to keep Maidana at bay and his foot speed and reflexes to avoid the kind of punches that would test Khan’s questionable chin. In the end, Khan will thoroughly outbox Maidana and slowly break down both his body and confidence with shots that are a lot more damaging than the Argentine could’ve imagined. By the late rounds, Khan will be in complete control over a beaten man. The fight probably will be stopped after Khan unloads a flurry of punches and Maidana is unable to defend himself.
Prediction: Khan KO 10
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at RingTVeditor@yahoo.com