Doug Fischer

Maidana won’t underestimate Morales, despite media concerns

LAS VEGAS — Marcos Maidana knows there are many fans and members of the media who fear for Erik Morales’ health when the Mexican legend faces him on Saturday.

And while the relentless junior welterweight contender appreciates the public’s concern for Morales, he doesn’t understand why boxing writers keep asking him whether he’s worried about hurting the 34-year-old veteran.

“They keep asking me this same question over and over again,” Maidana told through his adviser Sebastian Contursi after Thursday’s final press conference at the MGM Grand, the site of the fight. “I’m thinking to myself, ‘What the f___ is wrong with these guys? Why do they keep asking me if I’m worried about Morales?’

“I guess you have to be a boxer to understand. You can’t hold back on anyone you fight, especially an experienced warrior like Morales. I expect a tough fight from him. I have to. That’s my job.”

And it’s the job of the media to break down fights and ask tough questions about the matchups. There are some hard questions that have to be asked going into Saturday’s main event, which will be broadcast live on HBO Pay-Per-View in the U.S.

Can Morales (51-6, 35 knockouts), the older and naturally smaller man be competitive with a younger, bigger, stronger fighter such as Maidana (29-2, 27 KOs), who has crushed most of his opponents and even gave the two men who have defeated him — Andreas Kotelnik and Amir Khan — sheer hell in close, 12-round decision losses?

Can Morales take Maidana’s power? Should Morales take Maidana’s power?

Many observers think not, and they don’t give Morales, a 6-to-1 underdog, much of a shot to upset the 27-year-old power puncher.

Maidana is surprised by this sentiment.

“I can’t believe they are taking him so lightly,” he said. “Morales has excellent technique and the best experience a fighter can have. Look at who he has fought, Marco Antonio Barrera and Manny Pacquiao. Great fighters. He’s a great fighter. I don’t know why they would think he has no chance.”

Maidana says he was a fan of El Terrible when he was a young amateur boxer.

“I used to watch him a lot because I admired his style,” he said. “It was such an aggressive style. I wanted to fight like him. I don’t know how to do anything else but attack, but Morales was not one-dimensional. He could box, but he chose to fight. I liked that about him. I like his aggressive side more than his skills.”

However, Morales has made no secret of the fact that he intends to put on a boxing clinic when he faces Maidana, who the veteran views as raw and technically flawed.

Maidana knows this, but he feels that he is prepared for anything Morales brings to the ring in part because his new trainer, Rudy Perez, is very familiar with El Terrible. The respected Mexican trainer was Barrera’s longtime coach.

“I’ve had eight weeks to prepare specifically for Erik Morales,” Maidana said. “Perez knows what Morales does well and what he does not do well. He has flaws. There are some things he does wrong, and Perez has shown me what those things are.”

Maidana wouldn’t divulge what those flaws are but he promises that he will expose them during the fight, which he hopes is entertaining given the magnitude of the event.

“This is my second big main event in Las Vegas,” Maidana said. “The Khan fight was here [at MGM Grand] and now I’m back against a legendary fighter. This is special for a guy from Argentina. Not many Argentine fighters — including the great ones like (Carlos) Monzon — have done what I’m doing now.”

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