When Marcos “Chino” Maidana first arrived to the Oxnard, Calif., gym of trainer Robert Garcia, he was a hard-nosed, hammer-fisted determined fighter, yet one who was coming off a one-sided unanimous decision loss to Devon Alexander in his 147-pound debut in February of last year.
“Chino came to me not being happy, not having trained the way that he wanted to train, and loved the gym, and he started listening,” said Garcia, who also handles fighters such as Nonito Donaire, Mikey Garcia and Brandon Rios.
“A lot of fighters, they come to a new camp, they aren’t like that. A lot of fighters, they think that they’re better than the trainer, or they think that they don’t need somebody to tell them what to do, and they will never learn. Maidana learned everything that he needed to do.”
The student was ready, and from there, the teacher took over.
Garcia began to tinker with the footwork of Maidana, who went on a tear by scoring knockouts in the eighth round over Jesus Soto Karass, the third against Angel Martinez,and the sixth opposite Josesito Lopez in hisa last three bouts.
Next up, however, was the biggest fight of Maidana’s career in Adrien “The Problem”Broner, a 24-year-old WBA welterweight titleholder with a record of 27-0 that included 22 knockouts.
Broner had earned title belts over three weight classes, taking the WBO’s junior lightweight belt by third-round knockout over Vicente Martin Rodriguez in November of 2011, and the WBC’s lightweight title following an eighth-round stoppage of Antonio DeMarco in November of last year.
In his previous bout in June, Broner jumped two weight divisions for his 147-pound debut with a split-decision victory that dethroned Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi for the division’s WBA’s belt.
“So now, were about to head into our fourth fight together, and we know that it’s going to be our toughest,” said Garcia. “But, still, every day in the gym, he was doing exactly what I was telling him to do.”
Maidana remained disciplined even when Garcia spent part of last month with Rios in Macau in advance of Rios’ welterweight loss on Nov. 23 to Manny Pacquiao. Maidana told RingTV.com (through translator Henry Gonzalez) that he was working with Garcia’s assistants, Edgar Quiros and also Arturo Tover, and remained on schedule until Garcia returned the week of Nov. 25.
“When I was gone for two weeks with Brandon in China, I left the two trainers with everything written down,” said Garcia. “They knew what to do concerning what I wanted him to work on, and what I wanted him to do, so my assistants that stayed with him, they did everything that they were told to do. So Maidana listened.”
Over the course of Saturday’s unanimous decision that dethroned Broner as WBA welterweight titleholder, Maidana used left-right-left hook combinations to score knockdowns in the second and eighth round.
Schaefer said he saw similar determination in Maidana as when he was dropped three times while scoring two knockdowns during a sixth-round knockout win over future 147-pound beltholder Victor Ortiz in June of 2009.
“This was same fire in his eyes the same fire that I saw in his eyes when I saw him back in 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles,” said Schaefer.
“That was when he was in against another fighter where everybody felt that he was going to be the next big pay per view star. That was Victor Ortiz. You saw what happened there and here we saw it again. That same energy and desire and he showed who was the boss.”
Maidana was no longer the sometimes plodding, inconsistent, yet rugged power-puncher who was troubled by experienced ex-beltholders Erik Morales and DeMarcus Corley, who also hindered Maidana before losing decisions.
The new Maidana’s defense was tighter, and his punches were his crisper and more accurate. In pursuit of Broner, Maidana cut off the ring more effectively, swarming his adversary with suffocating, relentless pressure that rarely offered him room to breathe.
“We had great sparring partners. [Ex-beltholder] Stevie Forbes might not be the same guy anymore…But if we do the work in the gym and Maidana is throwing and landing the punches that I want him to land in sparring, then he’s going to land them in the fight fight. He was training to go to the body first,” said Garcia.
“Like, go to the body, pound to the body, jab to the body, right to the body, and then, finish with a left hook upstairs, or jab, jab to the body, and then come back with an overhand right. We trained for that over, and over, and when it came to the fight, he was landing, I’m not saying every punch, but many of the punches he was throwing, he was landing them. We trained for that.”
Maidana (35-3, 31 KOs) landed 120 more overall punches (269-to-149) than Broner (27-1, 22 KOs), connected on 109 more power shots (231-to-122), and 11 more jabs (38-to-27).
Also contributing to Maidana’s domination was his punishing work downstairs, where the 30-year-old Argentine connected on 101 body blows, according to statistics provided by Showtime statisticians.
“We were ready to throw 100 punches a round. It was like he threw more in some rounds, or like he could come close to that. We know that’s the only way to beat somebody like Adrien Broner, or that’s the way to beat somebody like Floyd Mayweather [Jr.,] and that’s the way that [Roberto] Duran beat Sugar Ray Leonard the first time,” said Garcia.
“Those are the types of styles that beat the great defensive fighters. Don’t respect them, keep the pressure on them. That’s how [Julio Cesar] Chavez Sr. was eventually able to beat [Meldrick] Taylor by knocking him out in the last round, by just constantly keeping up the pressure and throwing punches and not giving him the respect and no chance at all to breathe. That’s what Maidana did to Adrien Broner.”
Maidana had offered a preview of what was to come during an earlier interview with RingTV.com , saying that part of the strategy heading into the bout with Broner was to drill shots to the body that would force him to be more stationary and also force his guard down.
“I think that my advantage will be that Adrien Broner is a guy that stays in one spot and likes to take punches and try to block punches. But he’ll drop his guard at some point. When he does that, that will help me, because once he puts his guard down and stays in one spot, you know what the outcome is going to be,” said Maidana, during an interview with RingTV.com last month.
“I’m going to cut off the ring and I’m going to make him stand still and fight and throw a lot of punches at him from the time that the bell rings. I’m never going to allow him to get comfortable in the fight. I’m not going to let him get going on his plan of work. I’m going to make Adrien Broner as uncomfortable as I can. That will lead to the stoppage. I know for a fact that once he feels my punches and my power, that Adrien Broner will either quit or end up getting knocked out, because he has never been tested. Trust me: I have the power to knock him out.”
What Maidana was wrong about was that he believed that he could not win a decision against Broner, which he did as judges Stanley Christodoulou, Nelson Vazquez and Levi Martinez had it 115-110, 116-109, and, 117-109, respectively, all for Maidana. RingTV.com had it for Maidana, 115-110.
“I had told Chino to be careful and start out slow and to throw that jab. I told him to be very smart and throw your jab, but to just basically tap him, tap him, tap him, and that if you see an opportunity, then, of course, you should take advantage of it. That’s where Chino surprised me when, in the first round, he saw an opening, and he took advantage of it,” said Garcia, referring to a left-hook, overhand right combination that staggered Broner about 20 seconds into the fight.
“That’s happened in the first round. When Chino attacked, he took advantage of it, and then, the whole round, he just dominated. It was the left hook and right hand. That’s what happened. He took off and he just kept going for it the rest of the round. He picked that out himself and went after him and when he came back to the corner after the first round, I just told him, ‘Let’s keep doing it, let’s keep doing it.’ That’s the thing that surprised me. He came out and landed that left hook, right hand, and that was very smart of him.”
Like Broner, Maidana is advised by Al Haymon, who also handles IBF beltholder Shawn Porter (23-0-1, 14 KOs). Coming off a Dec. 7 unanimous decision that dethroned southpaw Alexander (25-2, 14 KOs), Porter watched Maidana-Bromer from ringside and has stated his case for a bout with Maidana.
Another Haymon fighter was on the Maidana-Broner undercard in welterweight Keith “One Time” Thurman ((22-0, 20 KOs), who declared himself ready for Maidana following Saturday’s ninth-round stoppage of Soto Karass, whom he floored once each in the fifth and final rounds..
Garcia has his own thoughts as to what should be next for Maidana.
“I truly leave that up to his management. He’s got a good manager and now that Al Haymon’s working with him, he’s got great management. Of course, everybody’s going to ask for and want the Mayweather fight. But if I’m not mistaken, Mayweather already has his deal to fight Amir Khan. But Mayweather fights in September again, so I would love that opportunity. If we have wait until September again, then we would like to get Chino something before that. But that’s up to his management team,” said Garcia.
“There are so many fights at welterweight that can be done and taht I would be happy with, but of course, the main one that everyone’s going to want to see and the fact that everybody was saying that Broner is the next Mayweather, and then, Maidana dominated him so easy and beat him so good. Yes, people are going to ask for Mayweatherr, but we’re going to probably have to wait until September or until the year after that. If we have to wait, then we’ll have to take someone before that. But Maidana’s ready. He’s ready for anybody, now.”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com