Maidana ready for Soto-Karass Saturday

Interview by Mariano A. Agmi
Photos by Chris Cozzone

Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez is not the only Argentine involved in a meaningful fight against a Mexican rival on September 15th. On the same night and in the same city, power puncher Marcos “El Chino” Maidana (31-3, 28 KOs) faces Jesus Soto-Karass (26-7-3, 17 KOs) in a bout that is sure to be an all action slugfest.

Maidana, a two time WBA light welterweight champion, is making a second attempt at welterweight after losing his most recent bout in that division against Devon Alexander in February. caught up with Maidana on Friday, and the always humble fighter shared his thoughts on training with former IBF 130lb champ Robert Garcia, why he ended up training himself for his last bout, and his thoughts on the competing cards on September 15th.

How is training going for your September 15th bout against Jesus Soto-Karass?

Good, we finished sparring today and I felt very good, so everything is on schedule. I started out with young guys who were bigger than me. They helped me out a lot. In the last few weeks I was sparring guys that were smaller and faster so that I could work on defense.

Did you train in Puerto Rico and California again? If so, did you spar with Thomas Dulhorme?

No, I’m in Oxnard, CA for this camp. I sparred with Dulhorme once in Puerto Rico but I didn’t go back this time. He’s a good fighter; very talented.

You recently trained with Mario Diaz and later with Rudy Perez. Now you’re training with Robert Garcia. How are these trainers different from one another?

Training is almost the same, but we are working more on technique. Robert is more technical, he focuses on head movement a lot so that I don’t get hit as much. We spend a lot of time on defense and on throwing straighter, more accurate shots. Rudy Perez and Robert Garcia are similar and work almost the same, but I couldn’t train with Rudy anymore because he got sick and it didn’t work with the health issue he was facing. I went with Robert Garcia because he comes from the same school of boxing and he understands my style.

How are you preparing for your fight against Soto-Karass, and after losing 4 of his last 7 fights, do you think he is on the decline?

We’re focusing on movement, because Soto-Karass comes forward a lot, throws a lot of punches and is strong. He hasn’t been knocked out before, so I have to be well prepared physically to fight all 12 rounds [author’s note: Soto-Karass lost via 5th round TKO against Gabriel Rosado in January 2012]. I’ve seen his last two fights and they were good victories, so I see him as a pretty dangerous opponent.

What do you consider to be your keys to victory in this fight?

We’ll see on the 15th. We’re looking to use a lot of movement and lots of speed. He looks slower than me. We’re also looking to counter him a lot.

After your last fight [a 10 round decision loss to Devon Alexander], it was widely reported that you felt uncomfortable moving up to welterweight and decided to drop back down to junior welterweight. Why did you decide to accept this fight at welter?

The truth is that I was not well trained for my last fight. It took too much out of me to make 140. I tried to make the weight but it was really tough and I felt very weak, so I decided to try 147 again and I’ll see how I feel and what I can bring to the table. In this fight, I’m well trained and I’m going to show what I can do at 147.

Are you relieved to be fighting someone like Soto-Karass, who will stand and fight you as opposed to one who will move on you the way that Khan and Alexander did?

Yes, this is a better style match up for me. We both go straight forward, so the stronger, more intelligent guy will win the fight.

After this fight, do you plan on staying in this division, or are you still experimenting with the weight?

We’ll see how things go in this fight. I’ll see how I feel. I felt very good throughout this entire training camp, so I think things will go well. If they do, I plan on staying at welterweight. I’d like to fight for a title or a title eliminator. I would like to fight Paul Malignaggi, a rematch with Devon Alexander or a fight against Tim Bradley. There are many fighters for me to fight at this weight.

The Alexander bout is the only fight that you lost clearly. What happened in that fight?

I trained without a trainer for that fight. Rudy Perez got sick and I ended up training in Puerto Rico by myself. I didn’t train myself very well and I think it showed in my performance. I was also overconfident that I would easily make the higher weight and ended up having to lose a lot of weight at the last minute.

What do you think about the fact that there are two competing cards on September 15th in the same city, which, in your case, each card involves an Argentine against a Mexican?

I would think that it’s good for Argentine boxing that Sergio and I are featured in big fights, but it would be great if we fought on different nights so that the public could see both. Overall it’s not good for boxing, because it forces people to pick one or the other. The good thing is that my fight will be about an hour before his.

Speaking of Martinez vs. Chavez Jr., what do you think of that fight?

I don’t think that fight will be easy for Sergio, but he will win it. Chavez is bigger and looks to be a tough opponent.

In some ways, you two are fighting similar styles in Chavez and Soto-Karass in that they each apply lots of pressure and fight aggressively.

Yes, Chavez always moves forward, but I think that Sergio boxes very well and I don’t think that Chavez will find him easily. In my fight, I’m going forward and Karass will too, so it will be a toe to toe fight. I’m going to leave it all in the ring and am going to be efficient and smart about my offense, so I think I’ll win.

Win or lose, you always give a great account of yourself and are always exciting to watch. Any last words on the fight?

I’ve been training hard here for 4 months and will go home to Margarita, in Santa Fe, after the fight. My people always treat me well and are excited about the fight and I hope it all goes well. Thanks to you for reaching out.

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