By Francisco Salazar
After his one-sided 10 round unanimous decision loss to Devon Alexander in February of 2012, there were those in boxing who wondered if Marcos Maidana had hit his ceiling.
He did have solid wins over Victor Ortiz, Victor Cayo, and Erik Morales, but he not one of them turned out to be a career-defining win.
Realizing his limited skills might not get him those signature wins he desired and advancement in his career, Maidana traveled to Oxnard, Calif. a few months later. He walked inside the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy, not realizing that decision would pay dividends a few years later.
Four consecutive victories later, with the last being a solid win over unbeaten Adrien Broner, Maidana would lose a close 12 round unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather on May 2.
While Maidana is still smarting over the decision, he gets an opportunity for redemption, something he may not have thought about when he grew up poor and fought on the streets in his native Argentina.
After a rigorous eight-month training camp, Maidana believes he will have his hand raised this time, when he faces Mayweather in a 12 round bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev.
The bout will headline a Mayweather/ Golden Boy Promotions card and will be televised live on Showtime Pay Per View, beginning at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT.
Maidana gained a lot of respect from boxing fans, but became a cult hero of sorts in Argentina and even with Latinos that live in the United States. As bigger crowds surround him and his entourage grows, Maidana takes all the attention in, but it does not faze or distract the enormous task at hand.
Defeating Mayweather would be icing on the cake, but he knows it will not be an easy one. Regardless, he is ready to do battle, eager to correct the mistakes he made in the first fight and implement effective strategies that will lead him to victory.
"I am ready and I felt great throughout training camp," Maidana told Boxingscene.com before a recent workout at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Oxnard. "I saw the replay twice and I realized I fell a little short. I was still happy with my performance. Now I get an important rematch. I'm very happy for everything."
While his purses have gotten bigger and the stages he has fought on have gotten brighter, Maidana still remains level-headed, especially throughout the promotional tour for the rematch.
Mayweather has always talked a good talk and even used gamesmanship to sell a fight or try to get under a fighter's skin.
It did not have an effect on Maidana, even admitting he can not understand English. Whether he did or not, Maidana would rather talk with his fists. His trainer, Robert Garcia, has played the villain in the eyes of Mayweather.
"I dedicate myself to my training," said Maidana, who is promoted by Golden Boy and is advised by Sebastian Contursi. "I just focus on the work i need to do so on September 13 I can execute my game plan in the ring. I know that Floyd Mayweather is a great fighter. He's in the public eye. That (trash talk) doesn't interest me. I want to fight."
With Garcia in his corner, Maidana's career has rejuvenated. While he beams with pride in speaking about Argentina, Maidana has begun to align himself more as an Oxnard fighter. It was the subject of "Making Maidana," a documentary that appeared last Saturday on Showtime.
Maidana has even recently looked into buying a home in the Oxnard area, where the demands of traveling to and from Argentina would cease.
Maidana has not openly express this, but a win over Mayweather would be an appreciative gesture to the trainer who took a chance on him when he walked inside his gym two and a half years ago.
"I didn't expect this kind of success. I came to Robert's gym and I improved in a lot of things. I've triumphed and I will continue to triumph. I hope that on September 13 a victory over Floyd Mayweather will make me a greater fighter."
Maidana ended 2013 with an upset win over Adrien Broner. If a win over Broner and a close decision loss brought about this much attention to Maidana, imagine what a win over Mayweather would do.
It is not an easy task, just like it was not easy for Maidana to carve out a successful career after the Alexander fight. And it was also not easy for Maidana to escape the poverty and hard streets he grew up on.
A win by Maidana will not only make a big impact in the sport, but in his personal life as well.
"A win would signify a lot. My dreams are always to win. To beat the number one guy (Mayweather) that no one has ever beaten. I will be the first. It would be great deal.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Salazar also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, RingTV, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing