Ortiz-Maidana: Head to head
VICTOR ORTIZ vs. MARCOS MAIDANA
When: Saturday, June 27
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles
TV: HBO, 10 p.m. PT/ ET
Weight: Jr. welterweight (140pounds)
Major title(s) at stake: None
Also on the card: Craig McEwan vs. Darnell Boone, eight rounds, middleweights.
Height / Reach: 5-9 / 70
Weight (on Friday): 139 3/4
Hometown: Oxnard, Calif.
Turned pro: 2004
Record: 24-1-1 (19 knockouts)
Trainer: Danny Garcia
The Ring rating: None
Major titles: None
Biggest victories: Carlos Maussa, Nov. 10, 2007, KO 1; Jeff Resto, Dec. 6, 2008, TKO 2; Mike Arnoutis, March 7, 2009. TKO 2.
Loss and draw: Cory Alarcon, June 3, 2005, DQ 1 (illegal punch after the break); Marvin Cordova Jr. Jan. 19, 2007, TD 1 (Ortiz was cut).
Weight (on Friday): 140
Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Turned pro: 2004
Record: 25-1 (24 knockouts)
Trainer: Miguel Diaz
The Ring rating: No. 10
Major titles: None.
Biggest victories: Miguel Callist, Dec. 22, 2006, TKO 3 (title eliminator); Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Aug. 29, 2008, KO 7.
Loss: Andreas Kotelnik, Feb. 7, 2009, SD 12 (for Kotelnik’s WBA title).
Skills: Despite his sparkling KO percentage, Maidana has underrated boxing ability. The Argentine is not the smoothest operator in the ring and his footwork is a tad sloppy but he’s adept at blocking and countering punches, he can employ effective lateral movement when need be, and he even has a some cute pivot moves when he’s in close to his opponent. However, Maidana’s punching technique leaves something to be desired. He often begins punching with crisp, straight shots but as the rounds go on he loses his form and his punches become wider and telegraphed. Not so for Ortiz, who had an extensive amateur career that helped form textbook offensive technique. Unlike Maidana, Ortiz holds his punching form throughout his fights and the southpaw possesses far superior balance, footwork and lateral movement to his aggressive foe.
Power: Both Ortiz and Maidana can punch. Both young guns have 26 professional bouts and have won most of them by knockout. Of his 24 victories, Ortiz has knocked out 19 opponents. Of his 25 victims, Maidana has stopped a whopping 24. Just going by numbers one would think that Maidana edges Ortiz out in the punching department. However, Ortiz may have knocked out the tougher hombres. Maidana’s power is very real, as evidenced by his KOs of normally durable journeymen like Silverio Ortiz, Arturo Morua and Manuel Garnica, as well as aging former lightweight contender Miguel Callist; however, when he stepped up to world-class opposition in his last fight, vs. Andreas Kotelnik, the fearsome puncher was taken the distance. And Kotelnik didn’t avoid exchanges with Maidana. Ortiz has scored two very impressive quick stoppages of veterans Carlos Maussa and Mike Arnaoutis, both of whom are known for their ability to take punishment. Ortiz put Arnaoutis on queer street with a single left cross in his last fight. Although the resilient southpaw remained upright, he was unable to defend himself against Ortiz’s follow up barrage and the bout was stopped in the second round. Arnaoutis had gone the 12-round distance with 140-pound punchers Juan Urango, Ricardo Torres and Kendal Holt (all of whom went on to hold world titles) and was never hurt. Maussa, who was out-pointed by Maidana victims Morua and Garnica but had knocked out Vivian Harris to win a 140-pound title, was stopped by Ortiz in the first round — by a SINGLE JAB. Maussa had been stopped before, but only by world-class opposition and never so easily. He was KO’d in nine rounds by Ricky Hatton in a competitive fight and stopped in eight rounds by Miguel Cotto, who wore the rugged Colombian down with body shots. It’s possible that Ortiz’s power is underrated.
Speed and athletic ability: This is one area where Ortiz has it all over Maidana. Not only are Ortiz’s hands faster than Maidana’s mitts, his feet and reflexes are quicker as well. Although Maidana is strong with above-average speed, Ortiz appears to be an exceptional athlete gifted with fluid movement and explosive speed and power. Put simply, Ortiz has more natural talent.
Defense: Maidana is not known for his defense but he’s not a sponge in the ring. He blocks punches well and uses his footwork to maneuver away from incoming shots. Ortiz, a calculating stalker who usually keeps his hands up, is not quite as good at blocking shots as Maidana, but he possess better footwork and more upper-body movement that helps him avoid unnecessary punishment. Neither fighter is reckless but both have defensive holes because they primarily focus on their offense. The bottom line is that Ortiz and Maidana will not have a hard time finding each other Saturday night.
Experience: Neither fighter is used to going rounds. Maidana has only gone past six rounds three times in his career, his eighth-round KO of Garnica, a seventh-round stoppage of Juan Carlos Rodriguez and his 12-round decision loss to Kotelnik. Ortiz has only gone past six rounds on two occasions, an eight-round decision over Alfred Kotey and a 10th-round TKO of Emmanuel Clottey. Maidana has the clear advantage here, having gone 12 rounds with a bona fide contender in Kotelnik (THE RING’s No. 4-rated junior welterweight). Ortiz has never faced a RING-rated contender. Maidana (No. 10 in THE RING’s 140-pound rankings) will be his first.
Chin: Maidana has been dropped once in his career, by experienced journeyman Omar Leon in his eighth pro bout in 2005. Ortiz has been dropped twice, against heavy handed journeymen Dairo Esalas last May and Tomas Barrientes in 2007. The rumor around the L.A. gym scene is that Ortiz has had a few wobbly moments and trips to the canvas in spirited sparring sessions, however, like the fights in which he was dropped he was in with hard-punching opposition. And, like his fights, the plucky southpaw reportedly always got up and took care of business whenever decked in the gym.
Conditioning: Both fighters say they always prepare to go 12 rounds, and neither has ever faded when forced to go more than six rounds. Ortiz is known for the distance he often runs during his daily road work, often going between eight and 12 miles. However, he’s never fought the 12-round distance. Maidana has, and he closed that fight very strong.
Wear and tear: Both fighters are young (Ortiz is 22; Maidana is 25) and neither has ever been in a punishing fight. As evidenced by their KO ratios, they are used to having early nights in the ring.
Corner: Maidana enters Saturday’s fight with a hall-of-fame worthy cornerman behind him, Miguel Diaz. However, the Las Vegas-based veteran has only worked with Maidana for five weeks, and admits that he’s only tried to polish the fighter’s technique in a few areas. Back in Argentina, Maidana was trained by Sergio Rafael Liendo, a former featherweight contender-turned-lightweight journeyman who is best known for getting iced by a young Naseem Hamed in 1995. A much better fighter-turned-trainer, former 130-pound titleholder Roberto Garcia, helped Ortiz develop a solid foundation by working with Kansas native during the final years of his amateur career through his first 22 pro bouts. Garcia’s older brother Danny worked Ortiz’s corner with Roberto and their father Eduardo, who is best known for developing Fernando Vargas into a champion, for three bouts before taking over the reigns in 2008.
Outcome: Ortiz will control the early rounds behind his crisper and more consistent jab and use his footwork to avoid Maidana’s advances. However, once Ortiz zeros in with his vaunted left cross — and possibly buzzes or hurts Maidana — look for the younger fighter’s finishing instincts to emerge and encourage him to take the fight to the Argentine, which will make for some very heated middle rounds. Maidana is both crafty and composed in close, where he will land body shots, uppercuts and overhand right crosses to the back of Ortiz’s head. Ortiz might get wobbled or even dropped, but he should also be able to land his share of more accurate power punches to body and head of Maidana, who is wide open for counter punches when exchanging. Both Ortiz and Maidana are used to knocking out their opposition and both are proud Latino boxers who wish to appease the fans, so don’t expect either fighter to take his foot off the gas pedal once the action heats up. Ortiz is the better athlete and the more accurate puncher with tighter technique, which is why he will prevail in a shootout.
Prediction: Ortiz, but mid-to-late rounds knockout