LAS VEGAS - On Saturday, May 3, Marcos "El Chino" Maidana will be fighting for more than the unified welterweight world championship and glory of defeating the pound-for-pound king Floyd "Money" Mayweather. The hard-hitting Argentine powerhouse will be representing a country with a deep and storied tradition in the sweet science when he steps into the ring at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in a 12-round welterweight world unification bout live on SHOWTIME PPV®.
For a country known for its passion for soccer, Argentina boasts an impressive boxing history that includes 39 world champions. Today, high profile Argentine boxers are littered across the sport's landscape including middleweight world champion Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez, former interim world champion Lucas "The Machine" Matthysse, who is coming off of an amazing win over John Molina last Saturday, former WBC welterweight World ChampionCarlos "Tata" Baldomir, three-time light welterweight world champion Juan Martin "Latigo" Coggi and current WBA Interim Featherweight World Champion Jesus Cuellar.
"I know I not only carry the weight of my Argentine people into the ring with me, but also the pride and glory of Hispanics around the world," said Maidana. " It would mean everything to me to be able to do something that no one has done in this sport before. I know it will bring great pride to Argentina."
Mayweather has faced other Argentine fighters during his storied career, defeating Gustavo Cuello in 1998, Carlos Rios in 1999 and Baldomir in 2006, all three by unanimous decision. The question now is whether Maidana is the person who will end this trend.
"Maidana has every possible chance of winning. He has two bricks in his hands and he's shown that fact on several occasions," Martinez told Boxing Scene.
"Marcos has the power to hurt Mayweather. We saw that in the [Adrien] Broner fight," said Matthysse. "If he connects with the right shot and has a chance to connect with more shots, he will be able to beat Mayweather."
"I think Maidana could win this fight by way of knockout, that's the only way to go against Mayweather," Baldomir told ESPN in a recent interview. "Maidana has to break Mayweather's defense and land one of his signature heavy punches."
"As an Argentine, I must confess that a victory from Maidana will bring Argentina a huge pride, especially because he's facing Floyd Mayweather, who is the best pound for pound fighter in the world," said Coggi. "El Chino has a heavy punch, that's key for his victory over Mayweather. "
Despite the long line of champions, the history of Argentines facing No. 1-rated pound-for-pound champions is also strewn with disappointments. Four times an Argentine fighter has found himself in that position and has failed to break through. While these losses were to the household names of Jack Dempsey, Marvin Hagler, Pernell Whitaker and Muhammad Ali, Argentine fans are no doubt clamoring for one of their own to capture their own legendary moment.
Maidana is off to a good-start in making Argentine history, after his thrilling upset of Broner last December. He became the second boxer, after Martinez to be awarded with the "Marca Pais" or "Argentine Trademark." This honor is given by the Argentine Ministry of Tourism as a way of expressing the pride and support that the Argentine nation has for those individuals.
Maidana will take this and his powerful fists into Las Vegas this week with the hopes of rewriting the history of Argentine boxing from one of just-misses to one of triumph and glory.