Marcos Maidana stops Josesito Lopez, shows punching power is still the ultimate equalizer
Kevin Iole, Yahoo! expert
CARSON, Calif. – Boxing is more than just a contest to find out who punches the hardest. Part of the magnificence of the sport is watching a fast, smart, technician discover a way to defuse the power of a knockout artist.
Marcos Maidana celebrates after his knockout win over Josesito Lopez. (Getty)
But 1,000 out of 1,000 fighters would accept if someone could promise them that, even for a night, they could have the kind of devastating punching power that Marcos Maidana possesses.
Maidana's blistering punching power brought one of the year's most entertaining slugfests to a way-too-soon conclusion, as he battered Josesito Lopez into submission at 1:18 of the sixth round in front of a record crowd of 8,629 at the Home Depot Center.
Lopez was fighting brilliantly, particularly in the fourth and fifth rounds, as he repeatedly tagged Maidana with a series of clean, hard shots. He found a home for his straight right time and again, hitting the target like a pitcher firing a fastball directly into the catcher's mitt.
Several times throughout the fight, Lopez seemed to stun Maidana, but he doesn't have the kind of fight-finishing power Maidana owns.
That became clear in the sixth when Maidana picked up the pace after struggling for a couple of rounds and absorbing a great deal of punishment. Midway through the sixth, Maidana hit Lopez with a body shot that seemed to suck the air out of him. Lopez froze, and Maidana blasted him with a crushing straight right.
Lopez staggered back to the ropes and then hit a knee, where he took the eight-count. When he got up, he was greeted by a punishing right uppercut. Referee Dr. Lou Moret gave Lopez a chance to fight his way out of trouble, but finally hopped in at 1:18 of the sixth to stop it.
Lopez moaned about the stoppage, and it was understandable given how well he was doing, but Maidana is one of the hardest pound-for-pound punchers in the game and too many more of those right hands wouldn't have been good for Lopez's long-term health.
"I felt it was a premature stoppage," Lopez said. "He hurt me a little, but we're professionals and we fight in situations like that. He stunned me with a good right hand, but I was not out of the fight."
Maidana is never out of a fight, no matter how far behind he falls, because with him, one punch can change everything. He complained that he couldn't move in the middle rounds because he was punched on the hip, but still was able to close the show.
That's why it's never wise to relax against a knockout puncher.
"My character and my guts got me this victory," Maidana said. "In the second round, he hit me on my hip and it was like I was paralyzed. The pain lasted for two rounds and that's when he landed the shots. But my desire to win got me through it. He underestimated my power and I knew I could knock him out.
"The only thing I felt from him was when he hit my hip. I couldn't walk. I didn't feel his power and I knew the fight would continue. It was a good job by the ref to stop, but I wanted to keep fighting. Josesito is a tough fighter but he has things to learn. I was totally confident I would knock him out."
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer could barely contain his glee after the main event, a back-and-forth battle that had the crowd cheering deliriously throughout.
He wasn't thrilled with the performance of Erislandy Lara, who stopped Alfredo Angulo in the 10th round of their super welterweight bout when Angulo suffered a potentially broken orbital and was forced to quit.
His mood changed dramatically after the show Lopez and Maidana put on, and he promised such fights would be the future of the sport.
He credited a business competitor with forcing boxing promoters to take a close look at the type of matches they make.
"Boxing has changed, and in a way, we took a page out of the UFC's game plan," Schaefer said. "The fighters and the networks have learned that the fans want to see action fights. That's what the audience wants to see. Winning and losing, winning means a lot, but what is really important is giving them great fights."
Whatever it is, fights like Maidana-Lopez are the type that will bring the fans back. The crowd was as intense as the fighters Saturday and the atmosphere was like it was a major world title showdown.
Schaefer mentioned the possibility of Maidana meeting the winner of the June 22 Adrien Broner-Paulie Malignaggi bout, or even against countryman Lucas Matthysse.
He said he's on a mission to rid boxing of boring fights. His card featured a horribly boring super welterweight bout between Demetrius Hopkins and Jermell Charlo, and Schaefer said he was going to do his best to avoid those kinds of matches, which anger the crowd and dull the passion for the sport.
"Golden Boy is going to make it a priority to sign action fighters and to put together fights we think are going to be action-packed," he said. "We've heard from the fans and this is what they want. They want those kinds of fights and that's what we're going to try to do."
It's a lot easier said than done, but encouraging fighters to fight, and paying them accordingly, will make a huge difference.
Marcos Maidana stops Josesito Lopez in 6th round
By GREG BEACHAM
CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Hampered by a hurting hip, Marcos Maidana absorbed everything Josesito Lopez could throw at him for two rounds. When Maidana got his legs back under him, the Argentine brawler made sure Lopez didn't get another chance.
Maidana stopped Lopez late in the sixth round of their welterweight bout Saturday night, finishing a tumultuous fight with a merciless rally for his third straight victory.
Maidana (34-3, 31 KOs) absorbed ample punishment from Lopez in a back-and-forth meeting of two willing brawlers, with Lopez particularly dominating the third and fourth rounds after Maidana took a shot to the hip. But Maidana rallied and knocked down Lopez with an overhand right in the sixth, following it with a crushing right uppercut that left Lopez wobbly and glassy-eyed, forcing the stoppage.
"My character and my guts got me this victory," Maidana said through a translator. "In the second round, he hit me in my hip, and it was like I was paralyzed. The pain lasted for two rounds, and that's when he landed the shots. But my desire to win got me through it. He underestimated my power, and I knew I could knock him out."
Maidana has won five of his last six bouts, and this victory should set him up for a big-money fight against another welterweight star, or even fellow Argentine Lucas Matthysse in the future.
Cuba's Erislandy Lara also survived the first two knockdowns of his career and stopped Alfredo Angulo in the 10th round of a similarly entertaining 154-pound bout in front of a sellout crowd outdoors at Home Depot Center.
Lara was knocked down in the fourth and ninth rounds by the brawling Angulo, but the former Cuban amateur star apparently broke Angulo's orbital bone around his left eye while peppering him with dozens of big shots.
Angulo's face was reddened and badly damaged when he abruptly turned his back and walked to his corner in the 10th, in too much pain to continue. The ringside doctor sent Angulo to a hospital.
The main event matched that bout's excitement and violence. Maidana came out with his usual aggression, knocking back Lopez in the first two rounds, but Lopez (30-6) replied with big combinations and more push in the third and fourth.
Maidana went to the canvas in the fourth, but it was ruled a slip. Maidana rallied again in the fifth, and he finished the fight with Lopez trapped on the ropes when referee Lou Moret stepped in.
"I felt like it was a premature stoppage," said Lopez, who has lost three of his last four bouts. "He hurt me a little, but we're professionals, and we fight in situations like that. He stunned me with a good right hand, but I was not out of the fight."
Lopez led 48-47 on two judges' scorecards at the time of the stoppage, with Maidana leading 48-47 on the third.
The biggest crowd in Home Depot Center history packed the outdoor stadium south of downtown Los Angeles, filling the site of several memorable brawls in recent years. Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer said the 8,629 fans surpassed the previous attendance record for Israel Vazquez's third fight with Rafael Marquez on March 1, 2008.
Lopez was a popular second-tier fighter from nearby Riverside, Calif., until he caught a wave of success for the past year since his stunning upset victory over Victor Ortiz at Staples Center last June. Lopez, a late replacement for Andre Berto in the bout, broke Ortiz's jaw and forced the former welterweight champion to quit on his stool after the ninth round.
Lopez parlayed his self-described "Rocky moment" into a lucrative bout with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez last September in Las Vegas, giving a decent challenge to the 154-pound Mexican champion before getting stopped in the fifth round.
Moving back down to a more comfortable weight, Lopez accepted a difficult matchup with Maidana, one of the sport's most exciting fighters. Maidana, who also beat Ortiz in June 2009 to make his international name, defeated Mexican star Erik Morales and lost decisions to Amir Khan and Devon Alexander recently, cementing a spot among Argentina's top fighters with Sergio Martinez and Matthysse.
Maidana has been with respected trainer Robert Garcia for more than a year, but still hasn't lost the instincts that made him an entertaining fighter.
Even before Maidana and Lopez hit the ring, the show could have been stolen in the penultimate bout.
Lara outboxed Angulo in the opening three rounds, picking him apart with left hands and short shots inside — but Angulo abruptly changed the story in the fourth round when he knocked Lara to the canvas with a big left hand. Lara got up unsteadily, but recovered to survive the round.
Although Lara fought a smarter, more efficient bout in the ensuing rounds, he went down again in the ninth when Angulo caught him with another left hand, punctuating the shot by standing over the fallen Lara.
The Cuban got up — and he finished the fight in the 10th with one last big combination to Angulo's face with 1:10 left. Angulo absorbed the shots, but abruptly turned his back and walked to his corner while Lara celebrated the win.
"I was still winning the fight, even when he knocked me down," Lara said through a translator. "I knew I was going to stop him in the later rounds. He caught me with good shots, (but) I fought too hard to get here, through shark-infested waters in Cuba, to let a few knockdowns get in my way. Angulo had good power, but I used my movement and stepped and slid around him and landed my big left hand."
Lara led 85-84 on two judges' scorecards at the time of the stoppage, and Angulo led 86-83 on the third card. The Associated Press also had Lara up 85-84.
"I wanted to stand in front of him and give the fans a good fight," Lara said. "That's when I got caught."
Earlier, junior middleweight prospect Jermell Charlo kept his unblemished record with a narrow unanimous decision over Demetrius Hopkins, the nephew of Bernard Hopkins. The cautious technical bout didn't impress the sellout crowd, which booed both fighters.
Marcos Maidana stops Josesito Lopez in 6th round
Mike Coppinger, Special for USA TODAY
CARSON, Calif. – The boxing world expected a savage slugfest Saturday at the sold-out Home Depot Center, and boy, did Marcos Maidana and Josesito Lopez deliver.
The welterweights gave and took over five-and-a-half ebb and flow rounds in the main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing tripleheader, and it was Maidana who proved he was the tougher hombre.
Maidana (34-3, 31 KOs) drilled Lopez with a wild overhand right that dropped his foe to a knee. Lopez took an eight count before he jumped to his feet to embrace Maidana's follow-up attack.
Maidana pinned Lopez (30-6, 18 KOs) into a corner and furiously unleashed. He landed lefts and rights, but it was the right uppercut that badly wobbled Lopez. Maidana jumped on Lopez and let his hands go until referee Lou Moret jumped in at 1:18 of the sixth round to save Lopez from further punishment.
At the time of the stoppage, Lopez was ahead on two cards, 48-47, while Maidana was up 48-47 on the third card.
"My character and guts got me this victory," Maidana said. "In the second round, he hit me in my hip and it was like I was paralyzed. The pain lasted for two rounds and that's when he landed the shots. But my desire to win got me through it. He underestimated my power and I knew I could knock him out."
Lopez, naturally, felt the stoppage came too soon.
"I felt like it was a premature stoppage," Lopez said. "He hurt me a little, but we're professionals and we fight in situations like that. He stunned me with a good right hand, but I was not out of the fight."
The fighters waged war at a frenetic pace. Each absorbed big blows before rebounding with power shots of their own.
Just two rounds before the finish, it seemed Lopez was in control. Lopez bullied Maidana in the fourth and belted him with shots that wobbled the 29-year-old Argentine. Maidana went down, but Moret called it a slip, even though it seemed an accumulation of punches caused Maidana to hit the canvas.
But Maidana rebounded in the fifth round.
He began to walk through Lopez's shots while delivering punishing shots in return. His confidence seemed to build. He pushed Lopez around and ripped off power shot after power shot.
Maidana says Lopez, 28, didn't have the requisite power to fend him off.
"The only thing I felt from him was when he hit my hip. I couldn't walk," Maidana said. "I didn't feel his power and I knew the fight would continue. It was a good job by the ref to stop (it), but I wanted to keep fighting. Josesito is a tough fighter, but he still has things to learn. I was totally confident I would knock him out."
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer says, "This was a good night for boxing," and talked up a fight between Maidana and Adrien Broner, should Broner beat Paulie Malignaggi on June 22.
"That would be as exciting as it could get," Schaefer said. "Maidana is just like (Lucas) Matthysse, exciting every single time. And Broner is from a skill level point of view, (as good as it gets) – great speed and power as well. That would be an amazing matchup."
Lopez was little more than an afterthought in the sport, relegated to fighting on ESPN's Friday Night Fights. But opportunity knocked for "The Riverside Rocky" in the summer of 2012. Andre Berto was set for a rematch with Victor Ortiz, but the fight fell through when Berto tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Ortiz needed a replacement opponent: Enter Lopez.
Lopez was a sizeable underdog, climbing from 140 pounds to 147, but defied the odds. He broke Ortiz's jaw in two places, forcing him to quit in his corner following the ninth round.
He parlayed the big victory into a September 2012 clash with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, jumping up to 154 pounds. But this time Lopez couldn't turn the upset. He was beaten into submission by Alvarez, dropped three times en route to a fifth-round stoppage.
Like Lopez, Maidana arrived on the scene with a shocking stoppage of Ortiz. His 2009 encounter with Ortiz was one of the best fights of that year. He consistently engaged in crowd-pleasing fights, his 2010 brawl with Amir Khan garnering honors as the Boxing Writers Association of America's Fight of the Year.
The announced attendance of 8,629 (approximately 454 comps, according to Schaefer) was the most ever for a boxing match at the Home Depot Center. The previous high was 8,226 for Rafael Marquez-Israel Vazquez 3 on March 1, 2008.