Anybody familiar with either of these two fighters could have foretold the fight would be a brutal battle from the opening seconds of round one. When the bell sounded Khan went for a fighter’s handshake while Maidana went to decapitate him. This symbolic first instant set the stage for what would become a knock-down, drag-out fight and test of the wills. In the first round Khan threw enough lightning quick jabs to look like Manny Pacquaio version 2.0. After round one he looked like Natalie Portman in Black Swan. He simply looked afraid of Maidana’s punching power and chose to avoid his fists at the cost of looking like a pansy.
Before the fight began I commented on the fact that I had been a follower and a fan of Khan. My respect centered on his reverence for his trainer, the legendary Freddie Roach. Roach has taught Khan how to position himself, how to defend his suspect chin and most importantly, how to move his feet during crucial moments and flurries. In the first round he pelted Maidana’s lower right inguinal area with a lethal body shot. Shockingly, Maidana fell down and appeared to be in a great deal of pain. This would be the last time the Argentinean would seem to be in jeopardy.
Once Khan finally felt Maidana’s power by round three he started to slow down and increasingly backed off as the rounds went by. For some reason he abandoned his power game and chose to jab with a few combinations and then he ran away without following through. By round 8 Maidana had finally begun landing enough haymaker uppercuts to cause Khan’s corner some concern. Maidana clearly broke his opponent’s nose, and despite being hit frequently, he continued to charge forward like a raging bull. In round ten Maidana landed one of the best power shots of the year to Khan’s head. For the next rounds until the last seconds of round 12, Maidana continued to brutalize Khan in every way possible. Khan’s tactic of running away allowed his opponent to time his movements.
After twelve dynamite rounds of boxing, Maidana lost a close decision on the scorecards. This despite in my estimation having landed the harder shots and having been the aggressor, the two most often cited criteria for scoring on a judge’s card. His loss could be attributed to the first round knock down as those rounds are normally scored 10-8 in favor of the puncher left standing. However, I suspect foul play. Since we do not cover HBO boxing in an official capacity we are at liberty to assert our judgment as freely as we like. In an earlier round of the fight Judge Joe Cortes deducted one point from Maidana for “throwing an elbow”. The replay shows that Maidana was in motion from the referee grabbing him awkwardly. His elbow moved slowly and weakly. It was not a serious attack, it never connected with Khan and it inadvertently lightly grazed the referee. Without providing Maidana a warning, as is standard protocol, Cortes deducted one point for the alleged foul that went unwarned, never hit anyone and never altered the fight. This is ultimately why he lost the fight. If Cortes did not receive a nice token of Vegas’ affection we would be truly shocked. Boxing much like football is full of oddball refereeing and strange happenstances but this is really a glaring example of absurdity.
Before watching the Khan-Maidana fight I had been as mentioned, a huge Khan mark. After watching him run away from his opponent like an Olympic track star, I am reminded of how far boxing has fallen. I enjoy watching tough men duke it out with power shot after power shot. I appreciate great fighters and their techniques, but when a fighter runs away like he is terrified he should not be taken seriously by anyone again. Khan is very lucky the referee gave him a point for doing nothing and very fortunate he held Maidana’s head a dozen times in the final rounds to survive. Tonight I enjoyed one hell of a contest but I lost all respect for the “winner” of the matchup. Roach should consider disengaging from Khan until he learns how to fight like a champion.
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