Amir Khan dismissed critical comments by opponent Marcos Maidana and trainer Miguel Diaz, saying he believes Maidana knows their fight Saturday is a significant challenge. Photo / Naoki Fukuda
LAS VEGAS – Marcos Maidana had few words but said a lot during the formal portion of the final news conference for his fight against Amir Khan on Saturday. “This is my most-important fight,” he said through a translator Wednesday afternoon, “but it’s not my hardest.”
That seems to be the mindset of the Maidana camp, that Khan is a good fighter but nothing special. The speed? Overrated. The boxing ability? Overrated. Khan? Overrated.
Or maybe they’re just playing mind games, perhaps trying to get under Khan’s skin in an attempt to lure him into a toe-to-toe battle. Either way, their comments are provocative.
Maidana (29-1, 27 knockouts) stood by his statement when asked about it afterward in a one-on-one interview with RingTV.com. And his trainer, renowned cutman Miguel Diaz, went even further in dismissing Khan (23-1, 17 KOs) as an “average” fighter and predicting Maidana would win by knockout.
“You’re right, I did say that. I don’t see this being a difficult fight. Victor (Ortiz) was more dangerous because he has a very big punch,” said Maidana, who survived three knockdowns against Ortiz to score a sixth-round knockout last year.
Diaz said Khan is a product of the British media, comparable to Ricky Hatton.
“He’s average,” Diaz said. “The English people say he’s a fast, fast guy. He’s an average guy. He didn’t show me anything special against (Andreas) Kotelnik. He didn’t show me anything special against (Paulie) Malignaggi. Is he overrated? Of course. He’s an English boxer with all the English media behind him. They don’t have anything. Hatton was just a fraud. The other guy, the super middleweight [Joe Calzaghe], was good but now he’s retired.
“Of course, they have to have somebody. That somebody is Amir Khan. I think the fight ends before the ninth round.”
Khan and his trainer, Freddie Roach, scoffed at the comments of Maidana and Diaz.
“I think deep down he knows this is his hardest fight,” said Khan, who is not known for engaging in trash talk. “He can say what he wants. Come Saturday night, it’s only me and him in the ring. I’d like to prove this is the hardest fight for him.”
Said Roach: “Not his hardest fight? Ridiculous. He better be ready for the hardest fight of his life. They think one punch is going to decide it. They’re going to be in for a surprise.”
Khan and Roach said the main thing the Maidana camp is underestimating is his hand — and foot — speed.
“Sometimes you don’t know how fast a fighter is,” Khan said. “You might think, ‘This guy is fast.’ Then you’re hit with a shot and don’t see it. You get frustrated. When a guy is powerful, you have to be careful. When a guy is quick, you don’t know where the shots are coming from.
“We’ll see what happens on Saturday night. He’s going to be the one looking stupid. I think Diaz has done more talking than Maidana. I think Maidana knows this is a serious fight. Diaz is playing an easy game. He sits in the corner; he’s not the one who gets hit.”
Roach echoed those thoughts.
“Speed is really hard to judge,” he said. “You can look at a guy and say he’s fast but when you have to go deal with it, it’s a f—–g killer. He will be overwhelmed by Amir’s speed. … I had an experience in my life when I fought Hector Camacho. He hit me like four, five times. I’d start to punch back and he’d be 10 feet away from me. It wasn’t his hand speed; it was his foot speed, which Amir has also. The same with (Manny) Pacquiao.
“This fight will be like Pacquiao and (Antonio) Margarito. David vs. Goliath, but Goliath wins this time.”
Maidana’s power: Diaz was asked whether observers give Maidana enough credit for his boxing ability. His answer, surprisingly: “Yes.”
“Marcos has very little, very little (skills),” he said. “But he has the best skill you can have in boxing: He can punch like a middleweight. And not just an average middleweight. He can punch like a middleweight who can really punch.
“… He intimidates his opponents. Fighters like Marcos hit your arms and shoulders and elbows and makes you think twice before you get close to him.”
Diaz, who worked with Maidana for two months in Las Vegas for this fight, said he had no desire to tinker with his fighter’s technique other than minor tweaking.
“People don’t understand one thing, that to try to make a boxer out of a puncher is the worst thing you can do as a trainer,” he said. “You have to increase his power. How? Conditioning, conditioning, conditioning. That’s what we worked on.”