Doug Fischer

Head to head: Morales vs. Maidana




When: Saturday, April 9

Where: MGM Grand, Las Vegas

TV: HBO Pay-per-view, 6 p.m. PT / 9 p.m. ET

Weight: Junior welterweight (140 pounds)

Title(s) at stake:  None

Also on the card: Robert Guerrero vs. Michael Katsidis, 12 rounds, for vacant WBO/WBA interim lightweight title; James Kirkland vs. Nobuhiro Ishida, 8 rounds, middleweights; Paulie Malignaggi vs. Jose Cotto, 10 rounds, welterweights; Danny Garcia vs. Nate Campbell, 10 rounds, junior welterweights.



The essentials

Age: 27

Height: 5-9 (175cm) / 70 (178)

Stance: Orthodox

Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Nickname: El Chino

Turned pro: 2004

Record: 29-2 (27 knockouts)

Trainer: Rudy Perez

Fight-by-fight: <a href="">Click here</a>

The Ring rating: No. 3 junior welterweight

Titles: None

Biggest victories: Victor Ortiz, June 27, 2009, TKO 6; Victor Cayo, March 27, 2010, KO 6; DeMarcus Corley, Aug. 28, 2010, UD 12

Losses: Andreas Kotelnik, Feb. 7, 2009, SD 12; Amir Khan, Dec. 11, 2010, UD 12.



The essentials

Age: 34

Height: 5-8 (173cm) / 72 (183)

Stance: Orthodox

Hometown: Tijuana, Mexico

Nickname: El Terrible

Turned pro: 1993

Record: 51-6 (35 knockouts)

Trainer: Jose Morales (his father)

Fight-by-fight: <a href="">Click here</a>

The Ring rating: None

Titles: WBC junior featherweight (1997-2000; vacated); WBO junior featherweight (2000; refused title); WBC featherweight (2001-02; lost it to Barrera); WBC featherweight (2002-03; vacated); WBC junior lightweight (2004; lost it to Barrera); IBF junior lightweight (2004; vacated).

Biggest victories: Daniel Zaragoza, Sept. 6, 1997, KO 11 (won first title); Marco Antonio Barrera, Feb. 19, 2000, SD 12 (won title; then refused it); Guty Espadas, Feb. 17, 2001, UD 12 (won title); Jesus Chavez, Feb. 28, 2004, UD 12 (won title); Carlos Hernandez, July 31, 2004, UD 12 (won title); Manny Pacquiao, March 19, 2005, UD 12

Losses: Barrrea, June 22, 2002, UD 12 (lost title); Barrera, Nov. 27, 2004, MD 12 (lost title); Zahir Raheem, Sept. 10, 2005, UD 12; Pacquiao, Jan. 21, 2006, TKO 10; Pacquiao, Nov. 18, 2006, KO 3; David Diaz, Aug. 4, 2007, UD 12.



Skills: Morales was such a fierce and fearless fighter in the ring during his prime that even his diehard fans tend to overlook his superb technique and ring generalship. The words “technique” and “ring generalship” have no business being associated with Maidana, whose bread and butter is power, resilience and relentless pressure.

Edge: Morales

Power: Morales was a feared puncher at junior featherweight, but less so at featherweight, less so at junior lightweight, even less so at lightweight, and well, not so much at all at junior welterweight. Maidana, on the other hand, is the most feared puncher in the 140-pound division. The 27-year-old Argentine has knocked out 27 of his 31 opponents for an impressive 87 percent KO percentage.

Edge: Maidana

Speed and athletic ability: Neither fighter is known for his athletic prowess. During his prime, in the junior featherweight division, Morales had the kind of fast hands and excellent reflexes that Maidana can only dream about. However, while the junior welterweight bomber lacks balance and hand-eye coordination, the hunch here is that he’s a better overall athlete than Morales at the 140-pound limit and at this stage of the Mexican veteran’s career.

Edge: Maidana

Defense: Morales wasn’t known for his ability to avoid punches even when he was at his best but he never recklessly walked into shots the way Maidana routinely does. Morales’ proper fighting stance, high guard, and straight punches usually prevented him from being caught with unnecessary punches. Maidana is so focused on hurting his opponent he doesn’t appear to concern himself with blocking or ducking in-coming punches.

Edge: Morales

Experience: Very few active fighters have the world-class experience that Morales has earned during his 18-year pro career. The Tijuana native fought 13 men who held major world titles, including two arguably great fighters — Pacquiao and Barrera — a hall of famer with Zaragoza, and borderline former elite talents in Junior Jones, Kevin Kelley, Ayala, Chavez and McCullough. Maidana has gone quality rounds with current contenders Khan, Kotelnik and Ortiz, but his experience pales in comparison to El Terrible’s.

Edge: Morales

Chin: Morales’ world-class chin was a factor in some of his most significant victories, including his hard-fought decisions over Pacquiao and Barrera and his knockout of Jones. However, those fights took place between 122 and 130 pounds. The Mexican’s jaw is unproven against the best 140-pound fighters of the day. Maidana, on the other hand, has spent his entire career at junior welterweight, and he’s taken the best shots of some of the harder punchers of the deep division, most notably Khan and Ortiz. He was dropped three times during his shootout with Ortiz, but he was able to get up clear headed after each knockdown and resume his trademark relentless attack.

Edge: Maidana

Conditioning: Maidana is not used to going the distance but he always fights full-tilt and to be able to apply the kind of relentless pressure that he puts on his opponents, one must be in tip-top shape. Morales was always ready to not only go the 12-round distance but to fight hard at an extremely fast pace if necessary. He says he’s even more dedicated to his training to his preparation now that youth is not on his side.

Edge: Even

Wear and tear: This category isn’t hard to figure. Morales has fought 273 more professional rounds than Maidana, and most were hard rounds against world-class opposition. Few elite fighters of the past 15 years have engaged in as many grueling 12-round bouts as Morales, who battled it out over the championship distance against Pacquiao (first fight), Barrera (all three fights), Chavez, In-Jin Chi, Hernandez, Wayne McCullough, and Espadas. Maidana has only gone the 12-round distance twice (his close decision losses to Khan and Kotelnik) and he dished out the majority of punishment in both bouts.

Edge: Maidana

Corner: Morales‘ father, Jose Morales, was a solid professional fighter and obviously a very good teacher — judging by the job he did with his son. It’s scary to think how formidable Maidana would be now if he had the boxing foundation that Morales’ father instilled in him at a very young age. However, Maidana, has acquired the services of Rudy Perez for this fight, and no other elite professional trainer is as familiar with Morales as the diminutive boxing maestro from Mexico. Perez was in Barrera’s corner for all three hotly contested fights with Morales. His fighter won two out of three in the classic trilogy. Maidana says his eight-week camp for Saturday’s showdown was an intensive clinic on Morales’ strengths and weaknesses taught by Perez.

Edge: Maidana

Outcome: Morales will surprise the many fans who dismissed this fight as a gross mismatch by establishing his jab and repeatedly halting an ever-advancing Maidana in his tracks with hard one-two combinations in the first two or three rounds of the bout. However, Maidana will continue to press Morales and lob one haymaker after the other until he connects, sending the future hall of famer reeling into the ropes. Maidana will dish out a frightening amount of punishment in the middle rounds of the bout, but Morales, ever the warrior, will stay in the fight by landing accurate counter right hands and choice body shots that visibly hurt the relentless Argentine. Referee Tony Weeks will keep a close eye on Morales, especially when the veteran is tagged along the ropes, but it will be the corner of Morales — led by his father — that ultimately stops the contest between rounds.

Prediction: Maidana by middle-to-late rounds stoppage.


Michael Rosenthal contributed to this feature. Photo by David Andrest.

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