Tonight, a fight of epic proportions could break out when two of boxing's all-action fighters, Marcos Maidana and Josesito Lopez, square off in a showdown that boxing diehards have been looking forward to. Check out what you need to know heading into the fight as Greg Rowe and Michael Samuels break down the advantages of both fighters.
DEFENSE: Defense? What defense? Do not expect to see much from either fighter as they look to punish one another in a crowd-pleasing bout. The advantage, if any, in this category must go to Josesito Lopez as Marcos Maidana's defense is his solid chin. If either decides to make a drastic change in their game plan and add a defensive wrinkle to their arsenal, it could be the deciding factor in having their hand raised at the end of the bout.
EXPERIENCE: Both fighters have stepped up their competition as of late, with Lopez facing Victor Ortiz and Canelo Alvarez and Maidana has faced the likes of Jose Soto Karass and Devon Alexander. While both fighters have lost their recent big fights, it's that experience in those big fights that counts. Lopez recently emerged on the scene in his fight with Ortiz, while Maidana has been around in big fights before then. This fight is taking place at 147, where Lopez has shown the ability to beat up and hurt a big strong man in Victor Ortiz, while Maidana has shown the ability to do the same in stopping Soto Karass. Look for the experience of Maidana to show, especially late. Maidana has also been in the gym sparring with Brandon Rios in Oxnard. Very few guys in the game are tougher and more relentless than Rios. Maidana will use that work and experience to his advantage.
CHIN: Both fighters have pretty good chins, particularly Lopez, as evidenced by Ortiz trying to bomb him out while getting his own jaw broken in the process. Maidana has 3 loses, all by decision, and has been in with punchers like Devon Alexander, Erik Morales, Amir Khan. He also destroyed Victor Ortiz and has yet to be knocked out. Expect each to come out and test the other's chin from the opening bell. This will come down to how much the fights with Ortiz and Alvarez took out of Lopez because we know Maidana is going to be there for 12 rounds. Maidana has been down 6 times in his career, while Lopez has been down 3 times, all to the much bigger Alvarez.
POWER: Neither man is known as a huge puncher or a one-punch knockout artist, but both carry a sturdy punch, especially when putting punches together in combination round after round. Neither man is the same puncher at 147 as he was at 140. If Lopez uses his superior movement and is able to get Maidana out of position, he will be able to be successful. Maidana needs to press the action and stay on top of Lopez to land his big shots. Look for him to do so all night unless Lopez can earn some respect with his own power.
SPEED: The speed advantage in this fight goes to Lopez, who is a little more fluent with his shots and movement. His footwork is better and he is more athletic altogether. Look for Lopez to use his hand and foot speed to get in and out and try and land his combinations, while Maidana will be a split second behind him in countering. Speed and timing are the best ways to beat a strong fighter who comes forward winging bombs and Lopez knows this. Look for him to use his advantage in speed against a more mechanical Maidana, much as Alexander did.
FINAL VERDICT: This fight could very well be the Fight of the Year in the sport of boxing. Don't be surprised if that's exactly what happens. Few fights that are billed as a war live up to the calling as one guy is hyping himself and chooses to run and hold come fights night. That WILL NOT happen in this fight. I expect Lopez to use the advantages he has, especially early in speed and movement. The only question is will he be able to sustain it with the relentless pressure of Maidana? My guess will be no, especially coming off of the Alvarez fight. Maidana will look to do what he does best in walking down Lopez and cutting off the ring while racking him with power shots, especially when he gets him trapped on the ropes. This fight will not be fought in the center of the ring very long as Lopez will realize he needs to bear down and fight Maidana. Around round 4, the two will go to war. Expect the toughness and mentality of Maidana to come in to play and expect Lopez to question himself later in the fight. I think Maidana is the tougher of the two, and in a fight such as this that will turn into a war, that will be all that matters. Lopez is a good fighter and he deserves to be here, but Maidana is not Ortiz in the mental department and he won't be able to break him the same way he did Ortiz. This fight will be a bloody classic for as long as its lasts.
MAIDANA BY 11TH ROUND KO
DEFENSE: Maidana is a brawler. He will come forward and try to land the big shots. His mentality is this: I can take your best shot, but can you take mine? Lopez is going to be able to hit Maidana whenever he wants. The question is more along the lines of how he will go about doing it. Lopez isn't a master defender, but compared to Maidana, it could look that way. Unless, of course, Lopez doesn't allow himself to swallow his pride and he attempts to bang with Maidana to prove some sort of merit, as if to say, "I'm here. I belong." Josesito Lopez is clearly a better defensive fighter, but time will tell if it shows.
EXPERIENCE: Both fighters have been fighting awhile now, with each amassing over 30 professional bouts. Maidana has been under the brighter lights for a longer period of time. With the likes of Amir Khan and Devin Alexander on his resume in big subscription cable televised events, he has been tested when it matters most. Lopez was put on everyone's radar with his stunning victory over Victor Ortiz, when Ortiz quit after suffering a broken jaw. Aside from that most people haven't been following his wins or losses. Maidana may have an edge in bigger fights, but there's no evidence to prove that Lopez cannot handle things in the kitchen when it gets hot. I don't see this playing any part in the fight Saturday night.
CHIN: Maidana has been hurt a few times in his career, and was famously knocked down by Amir Khan with a body shot that most guys probably wouldn't muster the courage to get up from, especially considering it happened in the first round of the fight. Maidana has proven a strong chin and even stronger will. He is going to go hard for 12 rounds regardless of how many times someone makes his head look like a pin ball machine. Lopez is no slouch. He can take a good punch. The lone knockout loss on his record is a questionable one at that, having given up a ton of weight to challenge the much bigger and stronger Canelo Alvarez. Lopez has no reason to knock himself for that performance. That aside, Maidana is a rare breed and has a better chin hands down.
POWER: Marcos Maidana has a lot of flaws as a fighter, but power is not one of them. Typically you either see Maidana stand and trade in an exciting brawl that usually ends in his favor, or he is left searching to land a big shot for 12 eventful rounds against a far superior boxer. It's much easier said than done. Josesito Lopez has balls the size of Texas, but that doesn't always translate to power. There is a clear cut edge in power in Maidana's favor for this fight, and it could be one of the big deciding factors on fight night.
SPEED: Maidana punches like a tank and he's not afraid to punch in volume, either. He may want to knock you out with one shot, but he is hardly the type to chase you looking to land a single shot. That said, he's not as fast as Lopez. Josesito shouldn't feel too honored, as it's hard pressed to find a guy much slower than Maidana in the sport.
FINAL VERDICT: I believe Josesito Lopez has the tools and the smarts to put on a groundbreaking performance on Saturday night. There is no reason he should not be able to stay on the outside and pick his shots, as well as mixing it up inside the pocket and beating Maidana to the punch every single time. Unfortunately fighters don't win fights solely off my belief in them. I'm not sure if Lopez is disciplined enough to get the job done against a very tough opponent who is coming for the kill. Maidana is not Victor Ortiz. While I applaud Lopez's effort against Ortiz, we can't ignore than Ortiz was clearly winning their fight before breaking his jaw. I'm not making an excuse or discrediting the kid, I'm just telling the truth. Maidana is definitely no Victor Ortiz. If he's not dead he's not quitting. Lopez has as much heart and will as the next guy, but if he tries to prove this against the rugged Argentinean he will be in for a rude awakening. That said, I'm going with the fact I know Lopez can get it done and will get it done.
LOPEZ BY SPLIT DECISION