Thursday, December 12, 2013

Broner-Maidana: Keys to the Fight

An intriguing boxer vs. slugger matchup takes place on Saturday in San Antonio as undefeated welterweight titlist Adrien Broner (27-0, 22 KOs) faces Argentine banger Marcos Maidana (34-3, 31 KOs). For Broner, this fight is the opportunity to cement his status as one of the key players in the sport's glamour division and a major building block of American boxing. With a win, Maidana can earn his first outright world title and obtain the best victory of his career. Below are the keys to the fight. My prediction will be at the end of the article. 

1. Maidana's Right Hand. 

Maidana's knockout weapon is the real drama in this matchup. Can Broner take a shot from a hard-hitting welterweight? To this point, Broner's beard, when tested, has been superb. His willingness to trade in the center of the ring stems from his ability to use his reflexes, defensive technique and body to minimize damage from big punches. However, Broner has only faced feather-fisted Paulie Malignaggi at welterweight and skipped the 140-lb. division entirely. Taking a good shot from a lightweight is an entirely different proposition from absorbing a full-fledged welterweight punch. Although Maidana wasn't able to dent Devon Alexander's chin at 147, it's clear from his outings versus Josesito Lopez and Jesus Soto Karass that he still packs a serious punch. 

But will Maidana be able to land his right hand, and how often? Let's be frank. Maidana's right hand is powerful, but it's slow. Alexander skated away from it almost their whole fight. Soto Karass and Lopez, to say nothing of Victor Ortiz or Amir Khan, had never been known for their defensive prowess. It's clear that Broner's team will be planning to take away Maidana's punch; it will be up to the Argentine to put himself in the correct positions to land it, which will not necessarily be an easy task against a defensively responsible opponent. 

2. Broner's Counters.

Here's where the sledding gets rough for Maidana. If he loads up or telegraphs the right hand, Broner has a series of counters to thwart him. Broner could trade right hands; his would get there first. He could counter over the top of it with a left hook. If Maidana lunges in to throw shots (which often happens), Broner could counter with his right or left uppercut. In addition, Broner could easily slip a Maidana right hand and dig a left hook to the body. Although it's unclear if Broner has true one-punch knockout power at welterweight, his punches will definitely be hard enough and accurate enough to give Maidana pause before throwing too many right hands.

The answer for Maidana might be to shorten up his right hand and to establish his other punchers early in the fight. Should he have success in the initial rounds, his swing-for-fences right hands might be there later in the fight. 

3. Broner Will Give The Body; Take It. 

Broner's considerable defensive gifts are almost all utilized to protect himself from flush head shots. Using the Philly shell defensive style which limits his exposure to the other fighter, Broner has an array of rolls, spins and movements that minimize hard punches to the head. In addition, he's excellent at tying up on the inside when he chooses to employ that tactic. 

However, Broner will give opponents his body. Yes, he'll swat and parry punches downstairs, but often, he'll just take shots to the body in order to protect his head, or to look for opportunities to transition to offense. Maidana can be an excellent body puncher when he commits to it. The inflamed right side of Erik Morales was a reminder of how powerful Maidana's left hook can be. Maidana's body work will be a key to scoring points and potentially softening Broner up for later in the fight. 

Never technically proficient, Maidana has shown some improvement working with trainer Robert Garcia. For Maidana to land successfully to Broner's body, he's going to have to make sure that he has good balance and doesn't reach with shots. He also can't walk in without throwing punches.   

4. Filling The Gaps.

I wouldn't characterize either combatant as a true 12-round fighter. Broner often gives away early rounds as he studies his opponents. When he does go on the offensive, he often fights only in spurts. Maidana has tremendous heart and has willed himself to the late rounds in some brutal wars. However, he's never been one of the elite-conditioned athletes in the sport. He'll take rounds off and can be prone to punch himself out during key moments. In addition, under Garcia, Maidana has not yet found a cohesive style in the ring. Although he has made defensive improvements with his new trainer, his fluidity from defense to offense can often be lacking. Remember, both Soto Karass and Lopez had significant success before Maidana turned those fights around with his right hand. 

If the fight goes late, the boxer who fills in these gaps will be in a better position not only to win rounds, but cause major damage in the championship rounds. What has bothered Broner to this point in his career (thinking about the Ponce de Leon and Malignaggi fights) has been movement and activity. If Maidana chooses to take a few rounds off or only assert himself for half of a round, he will play into Broner's hands, where he can land just a few big punches a frame and steal it. 

Maidana has problems with fighters who have superior hand speed and multiple offensive weapons. Broner will have a real hand speed advantage in this fight. If he doesn't use his jab and lead right hand, that will be an opportunity squandered. In addition, if Broner doesn't engage consistently on offense, he will give Maidana more opportunities to mount an attack. 

5. Broner's Lifestyle.

Will this be the fight where Broner's out-of-the ring exploits catch up with him? Let's be clear; Broner doesn't live a Spartan lifestyle. He's moved up three weight classes in just over two years. No, this wasn't a case of Broner finally meeting puberty. And the jury is still out on whether Broner is a real 147-lb. fighter or just a blown up lightweight who skimps on training. 

At a certain point, fighters who take liberties with their bodies have to pay the piper. Ultimately, all the ring knowledge and skills in the world won't be able to save a boxer if he's not in shape against a good opponent (James Toney is Exhibit A in this area). 

But how good is Maidana? He can certainly outlast boxers who are prone to fade, but Broner gets better as fights progress. Maidana's greatest claims to fame have occurred against chinny or mentally fragile fighters. But this attribute is also not characteristic of Broner. Will Maidana launch the kind of sustained attack that can wear down Broner over 12 rounds? Does he have the ring smarts and subterfuge to land his weapons? Can he keep up a high enough pace throughout the fight? These are questions that he hasn't been able to answer affirmatively against elite talents.


I'm going with the guy who has the better hand speed and higher Ring I.Q. As long as Broner's conditioning – and consequently, his reflexes – isn’t  shot, he'll see Maidana's bombs from a mile away. And in addition, he'll punish him with quick counter shots. Over time, these counters will dissuade Maidana from making the fight an all-out war.  

Maidana's decision to enlist Garcia and refine his boxing technique suggests that he no longer wants to rely on his chin as a primary defensive technique. In short, Maidana has acknowledged his ring mortality. He wouldn't have been dancing around Soto Karass with feints and jabs if he hadn't given serious thought to type of fighter that he would like to become. 

Maybe the fearlessness of the Maidana who fought Victor Ortiz would fare better against Broner than would the current version, but still, I don't see it. There's too much of a talent gap. I believe that Maidana will test Broner and he'll land a few of his best shots, but there won't be enough of them to dictate the terms of the fight. I think that Maidana will win some early rounds on activity. However, once Broner goes on the offensive attack, Maidana will be a sitting duck for hard shots, the ones that score and the ones that make fighters a little less fearless. 

Adrien Broner defeats Marcos Maidana by unanimous decision, 117-111, or nine rounds to three.

Adam Abramowitz is the head writer and founder of
He is also a member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.
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1 comment:

  1. I will say straight out, I would like Broner to be humbled, to act like a Man out of the ring instead of a Punk. That being said, Maidana is a fighter who fights like it's personel, Broner backs up two steps Maidana will chase him down 3-4 steps what ever it takes, and might get knocked out, but that's how a real warrior fights. I hope Maidana in 6.:)