On Saturday, June 27, power-punching Marcos “El Chino” Maidana (25-1, 24 KOs) makes his US debut against “Vicious” Victor Ortiz (24-1, 19 KOs), in a potentially explosive matchup for the interim WBA jr. welterweight title. The card will be televised live on HBO from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The bout pits the 22-year-old Ortiz, one of the sport’s fastest rising stars, against the soft-spoken but hard punching Maidana, a 25-year-old Argentine fighter eager to make his mark in the sport.
Maidana, a recent title challenger, shared his thoughts about his biggest opportunity to date with Fightnews in an exclusive interview just over a week before the bout:
You’ve fought in Argentina, Germany, and Panama. What do you think about fighting and headlining in the US for the first time in your career?
I’m very happy to be fighting in the US for the first time. I have to take advantage of this opportunity and give the fans a great fight. This is also my first fight on HBO and I’d like to impress them so that I can fight in the US again in the future. I don’t feel nervous at all, I’m just ready to fight.
With just over a week to go before your biggest bout to date, how has training camp going?
Training is going very well: I’ve been training in Las Vegas for a month with Miguel Diaz. My usual trainer was not able to fly out, but Miguel is doing a great job improving my technique, my movement and my defense. I’ve been sparring with a Thai boxer and a few others who joined the camp later to help finish up my preparation.
What do you think of Victor Ortiz as a fighter?
I trained very hard for this fight. I’ve seen several of his recent wins, against [Emmanuel] Clottey and [Jeffrey] Resto. Since Ortiz is a southpaw I have to pay particular attention to his straight left hand, but I know that he also has a pretty strong right hook and I see that he scored some KOs with his right hand. He’s a strong fighter.
Do you think that you’ll be at a disadvantage considering that Ortiz is a Mexican-American fighter now living in Califormia?
No, when the bell rings it will be just me and him in the ring and I think I’ll get a fair shake. I’m physically prepared for this fight and “may the best man win.”
You lost a very close split-decision in your last fight against WBA Super Lightweight champion Andrey Kotelnik. What are your thoughts on that fight?
It was a very close fight. Maybe I needed to finish stronger since he was the champion and I was fighting in his country. He was a tough fighter because of his defense: it was impossible to penetrate his high guard. I was a bit over-anxious because I was fighting for a title and it was in his home turf (Germany), so instead of going to his body to slow him down and finish him, I was desperately trying to hit him anywhere I could land: his arms, his head, etc.
Do you consider that your toughest fight to date?
Yes. I threw bombs for 12 straight rounds in that fight and I couldn’t get to him because of his defense. That was definitely my toughest fight and his high guard was frustrating.
Assuming you win this fight, do you want the Kotelnik-Khan winner for the full WBA title?
I would really like to rematch Kotelnik because I felt that the decision was in doubt the first time around. I feel that I know how to fight him now and the outcome would be different because I would adapt to what he’s doing in the ring and attack him differently. As for Khan, I haven’t seen him fight yet, but I’ve heard that he’s a very quick fighter with fast hands.
When did you begin boxing and why?
When I was 15 years old I walked into a gym in Santa Fe, Argentina, and a trainer there saw me hitting the heavy bag and asked me if I wanted to fight as an amateur. I started competing in tournaments and even as an amateur, I started knocking people out and stuck with the sport. I ended up going to the Olympic trials but lost in Mexico before being able to qualify. I then turned pro in 2004.
What are your career goals? Is there any particular fighter you’d like to face before you end your career?
I would like to win this fight impressively to introduce myself to the people in the US and the HBO network. I’d also like another title opportunity. My goals are to win a title, make a few defenses and then fight one of boxing’s elite fighters for over a million dollars!
What’s the state of boxing in Argentina today?
Boxing in Argentina is not the most popular sport, but it has its ups and downs as far as quality fighters. Recently we’ve had a couple of very good boxers emerge, like Omar Narvaez, Sergio Martinez, and Jorge Barrios. I hope to be Argentina’s next World Champion.
Do you have any closing words for your fans?
I want to acknowledge all of the fans that support me and the new ones I’ll have after June 27th. I hope you enjoy this fight.