By Lem Satterfield
BoxingScene.com has sought the opinion of 10 boxing insiders for their thoughts on who will win Saturday night's clash between Mexican, three-division champ, Erik Morales and former interim junior welterweight king Marcos Rene Maidana of Argentina.
The 34-year-old Morales (51-6, 35 knockouts) will pursue his fourth straight win since un-retiring nearly a year ago on March 27 when he enters the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas against the hard-hitting Maidana (29-2, 27 KOs).
Below are the result of BoxingScene.com's poll of boxing writers.
Bob Canobbio, CompuBox.com
Marcos Rene Maidana KO 7 Erik Morales: Marcos Rene Maidana brings the heat for three minutes of every round. He averaged 71 punches thrown per round in his seven fights tracked by CompuBox, 49 of which are power shots.
That's 13 more than the 140-pound average. Maidana's opponents landed 39 percent of their power shots. But does Erik Morales have the pop to get Maidana's attention?
Morales will try to box, and he threw 15 more jabs per round in his three comeback fights than he did in his prime. But he landed less than 20 percent. That's not enough to hold off Maidana.
Steve Farhood, Showtime Boxing Analyst
Marcos Rene Maidana KO 7 Erik Morales: Erik Morales is so gutty, he'll probably last a few rounds with Marcos Maidana in a fight that seems destined to end sadly.
For Morales, wrong weight class, wrong opponent, wrong time. Maidana by stoppage in round seven.
Norm Frauenheim, 15rounds.com
Marcos Rene Maidana KO 6 Erik Morales: I'm picking Marcos Maidana over Erik Morales by a sixth-round stoppage. It is hard to envision how a shopworn Morales can withstand Maidanaís shotgun array of power.
Maidana can be erratic and imprecise, but his whirlwind will inevitably trap, drop and stop Morales, whose eroded skills wonít be enough to get him out of harmís way.
A younger and more agile Amir Khan was able to survive the Maidana assault in a dramatic 10th last December. Morales wonít be on attack, but that figures to happen earlier.
Thomas Gerbasi, BoxingScene.com
Marcos Rene Maidana TKO7 Erik Morales: The sentimental side of me wishes that Erik Morales shows up and outboxes Marcos Rene Maidana and walks away with the win.
But eventually, I see Maidana goading him into a firefight, and at this point, Morales doesn't have the firepower to keep him away for too long.
Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports
Marcos Rene Maidana TKO7 Erik Morales: When he was in his prime, Erik Morales was one of those guys I could watch fight 100 times and still be wanting more.
But now, he's not close to the same guy he was and he's moving up in weight significantly to fight a guy who is to this decade what Morales was to the previous decade.
Marcos Rene Maidana, to me, is too big, too strong and too much in his prime for Morales. I know Morales is going to try, but that could be dangerous against a guy who hits as hard as Chino.
I think Morales goes down several times and is stopped by no later than the seventh.
Steve Kim, MaxBoxing.com
Marcos Rene Maidana KO 7 Erik Morales: I like Marcos Maidana. He's too big, too young, too strong and he is the natural 140 pounder against Erik Morales. Maidana by knockout in seven.
Jack Loew, trainer of Kelly Pavlik
Marcos Rene Maidana KO 9 Erik Morales: I've always been an Erik Morales fan. I just love the way that he fights. But having been away from the ring for so long, we really don't know if time and the wars that he's been in have caught up to him.
You've got Marcos Rene Maidana, who just a terrific, young workhorse in the ring, and, you know, I just think that it's his time. I really do. I think that he's due for a big win.
I think that Maidana realizes that a big win over Morales, and I think that the way he finishes will open a lot of eyes to this kid. So my pick in this fight is going to be Maidana.
I really can't see a fight like this going the distance. I think that it will be a stoppage during the mid to late rounds. I'm thinking that I'll say that he stops Morales in the ninth round.
Kieran Mulvaney, ESPN Boxing and Reuters
Marcos Rene Maidana KO 8-to-10 Erik Morales: I hate this fight. HATE it. I hope that Morales leaves the ring with only his ego damaged, but I fear the worst. This is a guy who was complaining his head hurt after fighting David Diaz several years ago.
And now, this proud warrior is going to be fed to a murderous-punching natural junior welterweight? Iím sure he does see the gaps to be exploited in Maidana.
Iím sure Evander Holyfield knows how to beat David Haye too, but anyone who made that match would be crucified and rightfully so. I know heís passed the tests.
So would I, but that doesnít mean Marcos Maidana should be allowed to hit me in the face. I see no way Morales lasts more than a few rounds; in fact, I hope the fight is short and the beating isnít prolonged.
I hope fervently that I am very wrong, and Morales acquits himself valiantly and looks strong and well, like the Morales of old. If I have egg on my face on Sunday morning, Iíll be a happy man. But I doubt that I will have.
Michael Rosenthal, Ring TV.com
Marcos Rene Maidana KO 5 Erik Morales: Erik Morales talks a good game. But we haven't seen anything to indicate that he's anywhere near the fighter he once was.
Meanwhile, Marcos Rene Maidana, while a limited boxer, is young and punches as hard as anyone in boxing pound for pound. Morales simply won't be able to cope with what the Argentine brings. Maidana KO 5.
Joseph Santoliquito, Ring Magazine Editor
Marcos Rene Maidana KO 3 Erik Morales: Maybe back in Erik Morales' heyday, he hangs with Marcos Rene Maidana. But not today.
Easy fight for Maidana.
The picks are a shutout, 10-0, for Marcos Rene Maidana.