About a mile away from the Thomas and Mack Center where Martinez vs. Chavez Jr. took place, the Knockout Kings quadruple-header at the MGM Grand Garden Arena saw Marcos “Chino” Maidana, perhaps boxing’s most exciting fighter, battle Jesus Soto Karass in a welterweight clash. This bout eclipsed the rest of the bill, as for eight thrilling rounds the two fighters threw themselves onto the field of battle with an abandon usually reserved for partying sailors on leave.
Under the tutelage of increasingly famed trainer Robert Garcia, Maidana showed up in much better form against Soto Karass than he did in his previous outing against Devon Alexander earlier this year. Against Alexander–in what was his welterweight debut–he looked slow and clumsy. But last night he was able to put effective combinations together, as he used a stiff left jab to set up follow-up shots, and also showed hints of defense conspicuously absent from his kit in previous performances.
Animosity built as the fight progressed, due to both combatants punching during breaks and after the bell, not to mention all the violence that occurred during the rounds proper. It was a festival of leather, as both guys gunned for the knockout in a war whose momentum shifted in almost every round. Soto Karass was game and eager to pull Marcos into a firefight. Eventually, the Argentinean obliged, becoming more willing to engage in the short distance as the bout entered the later rounds, giving up on cute tactics and reverting to his former, brawling self.
Soto Karass will be more mindful of what he wishes for in future. In the seventh round, Maidana convincingly hurt his opponent, flooring him with a strong right cross. Jesus beat the count and survived the round, but when the bell signaled the start of the eighth, Marcos came out firing and landing at will. He finally convinced referee Kenny Bayless to save Jesus from further punishment with a stoppage that, nonetheless, many felt was premature.
The win does not land Maidana a spot as one of the top dogs in the division, but it does go some way towards re-establishing him as a competitive force at welterweight. He proved he has adjusted to the higher weight, and his apprenticeship under Garcia is paying dividends. If he maintains the student ethic that he brought into his new gym, there is no reason why he shouldn’t keep adding variation to his game on his way to lucrative matches against people like fellow countryman and Golden Boy protegé Lucas Matthysse. What a war that would be.
The main event of the card was the super welterweight showdown between Mexican sensation Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and serial underdog Josesito Lopez. A healthy majority of observers expected the valiant, but much smaller, Josesito to struggle against the Mexican’s mighty arsenal of punishing power. A fringe minority believed Lopez could pull off the upset, based on nothing but hope. At night’s end, the outcome was democratic.
The first round and part of the second were mildly competitive. When the opening bell rang, both guys hit the ground running, throwing and landing power shots, looking to end the fight as soon as possible. Lopez did some damage on the Mexican, more than once snapping his head back with right hand crosses, only for “Canelo” to come back with hard left hooks to the body, crushing uppercuts on the inside, and right hands upstairs. Unfortunately for those looking for an even fight to break out, the size and power differential that was evident from the start only increased as the bout progressed.
As opposed to previous outings which have seen him start at a slow pace, “Canelo” showed his killer vein from the get-go. He put four, five, and six punch combinations together, tattooing the pitifully outmatched Josesito from head to navel. The Mexican champion scored knockdowns thanks to an uppercut, a perfectly placed left hook to the body, and a multi-punch combination that Alvarez had plenty of time to envision and set up in advance while Lopez reclined helplessly against the ropes in the fifth and final round.
In his post-fight interview, “Canelo” mentioned being pleased with the outcome, but his facial expression betrayed dissatisfaction at the evident mismatch, a feeling shared by those watching from the stands at at home. While he has shown enormous potential, he just can’t seem to get a worthy opponent to state his case. While Chavez Jr., Saul’s nemesis in the battle for Mexican hearts and minds, has already fought some of the best in his division, Alvarez’s biggest challenge to date has to be picked out of a feeble crowd that includes a shot Shane Mosley, a badly faded Kermit Cintron, and an outright decrepit Carlos Baldomir. If he’s hoping to face a stiff challenge his next time out, we’re right there hoping with him. –Rafael Garcia