By Rick Reeno
MGM Grand, Las Vegas - Marcos Maidana (30-2, 27KOs) struggled to win a twelve round majority decision over the former three division champion Erik Morales (51-7, 35KOs). The scores were 114-114 for the draw, and 116-112, 116-112 for Maidana. The fight was an exciting contest for the entire twelve rounds. And there were many ringside observers who felt Morales had done enough to win the decision.
It was clear in the first round, Maidana was the physically bigger fighter pushed Morales around early. Maidana was going after Morales with good combinations but he was unable to land many of them. Morales was using was using some very good defensive skills. The few shots that Maidana was able to land clean, he demolished the right eye of Morales. Morales' right eye appeared to be swollen shut before the start of the second.
Morales was very defensive at the start of the second. In the final minute, Maidana started pressing the action and would pin Morales against the ropes to unload with shots. In the fourth and fifth rounds, we saw shades of the old Morales as he stood toe to toe with Maidana - trading punches - and at times he was getting the better of the boxer from Argentina. The packed Mexican crowd was on their feet as Morales was unloading with his own power shots on what appeared to be a stunned Maidana.
The seventh round was nearly all Maidana until the final 20 seconds when Morales appeared to once again stun the puncher from Argentina as the entire arena exploded. Maidana began to show significant signs of fatigue in the eight round and his power was becoming less of a factor.
In the early moments of the ninth, Morales stunned Maidana with a combination that nearly swung him backwards. Morales was punishing Maidana with punches until the bell. The tenth was a complete swing around, with Maidana coming out fast to get the jump on Morales. He was pounding the Mexican veteran against the ropes, but missing more than he was landing. Morales turned things around very quickly and began to let his hands go on a tired Maidana. The boxer from Argentina was sucking it up and throwing punches in every direction to prevent Morales from winning another round.
Maidana was exhausted in the ten round. Morales was taking full advantage of the situation and landing accurate punhces to the head and the body. Maidana was so tired that he was barely able to throw any punches. Maidana was still very tired in the eleventh, but he was doing more work as Morales was either tired himself or simply taking a round off to conserve his energy for the final round.
Maidana came out fast in the twelfth. The puncher from Argentina knew the fight was on the table and he was trying to throw everything left in his tank to put Morales away. Morales was fighting in spurts and stunned Maidana for a moment with a well placed hook.