On Saturday night Showtime Sports closed out its boxing season with another great card from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The main event featured Marcos Maidana (34-3, 31 KOs) taking on Adrien Broner (27-0, 1 NC, 22 KOs) in a welterweight title clash for Broner’s WBC belt. It was a fight filled with intrigue, drama, action and emotion. It has been a great year for boxing and this was an excellent fight to close it out. Lets take a closer look at this fight, what made it special, and what it means for 2014.
The two big factors going into the fight were Broner’s speed and defense against the power and relentlessness of Maidana. We got an early answer twenty seconds into the fight. After a couple of pawing feeler jabs, Maidana exploded with step-in left hook, overhand right combo that had Broner staggering and off-balance. Maidana followed him to the ropes and tried to overwhelm him. Broner used his defense, arms and shoulders to avoid more damage. The overhand right had just clipped him, if it had landed as clean as the left hook lead than the night might have ended right there. Instead it was just the beginning of the action. Thirty seconds into the fight and we had already seen Maidana hurt Broner who was able to escape the trouble. He was rocked though and the overhand right would be one of the key weapons for Maidana in this fight. He was using it in the first round to come over the top of the shoulder roll of Broner and at times almost punching down on him.
The first round also saw some of the extracurricular tactics that Broner likes to employ in his fights. When they tied up along the ropes with Maidana’s back against them, Broner put his right forearm in Maidana’s face. He then pushed it a couple of times into his face. When the referee separated them Broner was looking at Maidana like, “Yeah, I just pushed my forearm into your face.” Broner was also grabbing and holding as much as he could in the first round. He did not miss any chances to get in some extra shots that were on the fringes of the rules or to hold and grab Maidana’s arms.
We also got an example of Broner’s brilliance at slipping punches, his arrogance and almost disdain for Maidana. Normally this works for him but on this night it would ultimately cost him the fight. Broner tries to get his opponents frustrated and angry. He uses the early rounds to do this with his elusiveness, taunting, pushing and holding. Another layer to this cake of frustration that he is baking for his opponent is the chase. He makes them chase him around the ring, and this helps wear them out in the later rounds. It also increases the anger level in his opponent who will then start to make mistakes and wear down as the fight progresses. He does enough to often take some of these early rounds on reputation and then pick up the later rounds when his opponent is tired. This has worked for him throughout his career but Maidana was a different fighter than Broner had faced in the past. He kept his composure, remained focused and was able to use the anger to his advantage.
He is the quiet angry type, what I like to call one of the “Alright Motherfucker” types. Basically this is the type of fighter that has the ability to focus every molecule in their body on destroying the source of their anger. They are able to remain calm and locked in on what needs to be done to destroy their opponent. It was a testament to Broner’s ability to annoy that he was able to get Maidana to retaliate later in the fight.
A great example of this from Broner came with just over a minute left on the clock in the opening frame. Broner had slid over into the corner and appeared to be in a very bad spot. Maidana moved in and faked three punches before throwing anything and missed with the two hooks he did throw. Broner used this to spin out of the corner and turned his back to Maidana walking across the ring, stretching and flexing his arms. It was not until he was almost to the opposite corner did he fully turn and face Maidana again. From there he quickly danced away along the ropes. Maidana followed, stalking him but not rushing forward. He caught Broner against the ropes and started to land to the body and the head. They were not cleans shots but they were getting through to do some damage.
This led to Broner grabbing a hold of Maidana in a Thai clinch around his neck only he was using boxing gloves. A lot of fighters will pull back and fight this which will help wear them down. Maidana had a different solution, he just started with a couple of hooks to the body. Then the referee moved in to separate them it looked like at first, but he just pulled Broner’s lefthand down a little. As he was backing away from the fighters Maidana landed a solid right uppercut and then a another grazing one before he went back to the body. Then it was hooks to the body with overhand rights to the head mixed in. Broner was able to get off the ropes and landed jabs to the body he moved away. There were a couple more sequences of him slipping punches along the ropes that led up to the last sixteen seconds of the round.
Once again, Broner put himself in the corner. He slipped several punches including another high velocity overhand right that missed. Broner then slipped out of the corner, and grabbed Maidana from behind. He then made four or five thrusts with his pelvic region and Maidana’s backside region. The crowd of course reacted but Maidana did not. He seemed pissed but he did not rush in wildly at Broner. It was just more of the same calm intensity from Maidana who was clearly in ‘Alright Motherfucker’ mode and ready for the second round.
The first round felt like one of those where Broner just kind of gave it away. During the round Pauli Malignaggi kept pointing out that Broner was not throwing any punches. He would slip punches or dance away but rarely countered Maidana. This was a typical Broner first round except him getting rocked in the early moments.
The second round opened with Maidana throwing a couple of jabs; Broner responded with one of his own. Then Maidana threw one to the body at about half-speed. He then reset for a moment, looked down at the body again and BAM! A lead left hook to the dome rocked Broner, who retreated and threw a jab and got caught with his right leg slightly crossed behind his left leg when again, the left hook landed. The hook sent Broner back into the ropes and down to the canvas tangled up in the ropes. Maidana started to throw an overhand right but stopped short as Broner went crashing down. Broner got up quickly but he was doing the EDtv chicken dance. The crowd was going almost as crazy as Mauro Ranallo. It was the first time that Broner had been knocked down in his career and it would not be the last time in this fight.
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Maidana smelled the finish as he glided over with a laser focus in his eyes to resume the fight. Broner shot for the takedown and got the body-lock on Maidana who just punched away with his left hand until the referee broke them up. Then Maidana threw a wild lunging lead left hook that left him off-balance and on one knee as Broner spun out and away. Maidana kept coming, throwing hooks and Broner, in survival mode again tied him up pushing Maidana’s head down in a semi-headlock. Maidana slipped out and landed several head and body shots along the ropes. Again, Broner slipped and spun his way out but Maidana calmly stalked him and continued to throw and land overhand rights and left hooks. Most of them did land solid but they were still getting there, scoring and affecting Broner.
You have to give credit to Broner for showing a lot of heart in this round. There are fighters who would have taken the exit that Maidana had provided but Broner found his legs and fought back. He landed several shots of his own and was able to slip, duck and dodge more of Maidana’s punches. At times in this fight Broner looked like the Justin character from Dodgeball with the way he contorted himself to avoid the assault from Maidana. By the end of the round Broner seemed to be recovered, but he was now down two rounds, and this one was of the 10-8 variety.
In between rounds Malignaggi did an excellent job of pointing out how Maidana disguised and set up the left hook that started the knockdown. Malignaggi detailed that the hook started out low so it looked like another jab to the body and Broner did not see it coming until it was too late. Also, Broner’s corner was very upset and it was Broner who was calming them down.
The third round was Maidana landing effectively from the outside as he worked his way in. Once the fighters got in close Broner was actually doing a better job of avoiding punches and landing his own. When they got in close neither fighter was shy about putting their forearms in the other’s face. Broner was more effective with these tactics but Maidana did not back down. This was the type of round people expected before the fight. A competitive round but Maidana did more work, landed more and put another round in the books. After three rounds Maidana had landed 69 of 228 punches thrown and Broner had only thrown 56 total.
In the fourth round Maidana really worked the body of Broner over. He was landing stiff jabs and solid hooks throughout the round. The body jab was becoming one of his best punches in the fight, not only for when it landed, but the way it allowed him to disguise the left hook to either the head or the body. He landed both effectively in this round. Even when Broner covered up, it was still Maidana being the active and aggressive fighter.
For the fifth round Broner came out much more aggressive in the opening seconds. He was firing away but quickly settled back in to being a more defensive fighter. Maidana went right back to the body again chopping away at Broner. Malignaggi illustrated that Maidana’s awkwardness was helping him as Broner was struggling to get his rhythm and timing down. This led to him getting caught more than usual. Also, Broner likes to lean back to slip punches. By using the jab to set up the left hook Maidana was getting Broner to lean into the range of the hook when he tried to avoid the jab.
Almost one minute into the round and Broner was throwing more punches and coming forward. Then Broner shoved Maidana into the ropes and the referee stepped in and gave another warning to Broner. This was the third warning to just Broner for his antics on the edges of the rules. Both fighters had been warned on two earlier occasions in the fight for their elbows in the face. So far Maidana had done a good job a dealing with the tactics of Broner without an over-retaliation but not being bullied either. A few moments later and Broner held Maidana’s right arm against his body and was talking with the referee. Meanwhile, Maidana was content to wail away at Broner’s body with his left hand.
After they separated there was a lot of back and forth exchanges between the two fighters. Each would take turns unloading three to four punch combos; a couple of times throwing and landing simultaneous shots. As the round was closing Broner held Maidana off with his left forearm and slipped in a sneaky righthand uppercut. Maidana responded with a flurry much of which was blocked by Broner. Then another warning for Broner for pushing. The round ended in the middle of the ring with both fighters throwing. It was the best action round of the fight and the closest so far. It would be the easiest round to score for Broner of the first five.
At the start of the sixth Broner was even more aggressive, holding his own and firing away. He was actually backing Maidana up a little in the early moments of the round. Broner landed a clean right uppercut that did not phase Maidana and it led to Al Bernstein raising the question of whether or not Broner has welterweight power. One thing we do know is that he did not have enough of it on this night to hurt Maidana.
One reaction in the sixth round from Maidana to Broner’s aggression was the increase use of his jab to the head. He was very good at changing levels with it going to the body and the head. Even in this round Broner never seemed fully comfortable in this fight. A lot of it was due to the way Maidana used his jab to set up and disguise the lead left hook allowing him to land it consistently. This also led to the chopping overhand right being effective off of feints and in combinations. In this round Broner was consistently more aggressive and threw more punches. He was the one leading the action, moving Maidana backwards and maintaining his accuracy as he increased his output. Maidana fought back and landed several good shots of his own including a left hook in the closing seconds of the round that shimmied Broner. In between the rounds Bernstein highlighted a nice right upper cut that Broner landed. Bernstein noted that it was a nice punch but did not affect Maidana very much. Despite the left hook at the end of the round it was Broner’s. He did enough before that to not allow that punch to steal the round from him. The image of Broner getting rocked to some degree by a Maidana punch was beginning to become a familiar sight in this night.
Maidana started the seventh round with two crisp jabs, followed by a couple of feints and then a quick double jab jab. This backed Broner off a couple of steps and Maidana was bouncing on his feet side to side. He hunched his shoulders up, started to step forward and threw two little short right left hooks to the body as he closed the distance into Broner’s face. While still looking down he went quickly up to the head with a sudden barrage of punches that was punctuated by a head rattling right hand. It took Maidana about twenty-two seconds to regain control of the fight.
They give the score cards for Bernstein who had it 58-55, and Steve Farhood 57-56 both for Maidana. Paulie Malignaggi had it even at 57-57. I personally was more in line with how Bernstein scored it as the most you could give Broner was the fifth and the sixth with Maidana scoring a 10-8 second round. This would led you to his exact score and seemed more inline with the final judges. It also matched up closer with the punching stat numbers. With 1:18 left in the seventh round Broner had landed 68-190 punches to Maidana’s 134-510. It is very hard to get an even score with those numbers and the 10-8 round for Maidana.
Even though Maidana had reasserted himself, Broner did a good job fighting back. This of course involved more grabbing, pushing and forearms in the face. He also was more active and threw more punches than in the earlier rounds. There were several exchanges in close between the two fighters that ebbed and flowed, each landing a shot or two, several glancing ones. Broner would make Maidana miss but it was Maidana who was more active. He was also working the body and throwing more combos than Broner. This was a contributing factor to the later rounds where we saw Broner struggle.
The seventh was another very close round. Both fighters had their moments with Maidana seeming like he was taking control of the round in the early moments, only to have it end with another back and forth exchange of combinations. It was another round you could give to either fighter and be right. Some judges might be swayed by the Broner name and his antics outside of the ring and subconsciously give the close rounds to Maidana, who was playing the Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy to Broner’s David Simms in this fight. If Broner had kicked a dog, knocked over a kid and pushed an old woman in the face when he stormed off after the fight no one would have been shocked.
In between the seventh and eighth rounds they gave the round by round punches landed stats and it was the only round so far that Broner had out landed Maidana. It was close, 22 to 20, but it did not seem like that watching it. Maidana landed 21 to Broner’s 18 in the fifth round and 17 to 12 in the sixth. In the first four rounds Broner literally went 6 7 8 9 to Maidana’s 26 31 12 16. The numbers do not help Broner very much and he was entering the point of the fight where he need to start knocking Maidana down at least to retain his title.
Again, Broner looked sharper to start the eighth round but Maidana was not fading. He was right there answering all of Broner’s shots with a couple of extra ones. One minute into the round and it just seemed like a continuation of the seventh with more in close exchanges with both fighters landing. It was also Maidana working the body more than Broner. Then, with 1:33 left in the round, Maidana grabbed hold of the fight.
It started with a range finding jab that as he threw it he ducked down at the same time. He then ducked down slightly as he came in and landed a left hook to the head. A right hook to the body followed quickly. Then a little tap to the body with the left hand and back up to the top with a left hook that sent Broner down for the second time in the fight. The arena exploded in cheers. It was like a scene out of Highlander as Maidana seemed to grow stronger as the cheers grew louder. Broner knew the fight was slipping away from him and he tied up Maidana again pinning both arms against his side. Then everything went crazy including Maidana who was possibly riding the adrenaline rush from the knockdown and the crowd.
Instead of being patient and letting the referee separate them Maidana head-butted Broner slightly. He hit him hard enough to free his left arm which he threw and landed a very short tapping left hook to the chin. Broner reacted like he had been hit with club, clutching his chin and with an agonized, pained look on his face he pirouetted and went down to all fours just off of the canvas. From there he collapsed gently and rolled over on to his back and continued to his stomach and pushed himself up to his knees. He was reeling with his head lolling back and when he stood up he just pointed twice at his chin like he could not talk because he was in so much pain. The referee brought the doctor in as the crowd was now booing and jeering the overacting Broner. He was like a little kid trying to get out of trouble by acting hurt.
Both blows were glancing at best and earlier in the fight Broner was complaining about being hit in the back of the head. He was also the leader in the blatant disregard for the rules during the fight. Up to that moment Maidana had done a good job of not over retaliating but still not allowing himself to be bullied in the ring either. The referee certainly contributed to the moment by doing nothing but issuing worthless warnings all night long. We finally got the answer of what it would take for him to deduct a point and the answer was a blatant headbutt. The doctor checked out Broner and the point deduction canceled out the knockdown to some degree turning it into a 9-8 instead of a 10-8 round. Shortly after the action resumed Broner shoved Maidana away right in front of the referee who did nothing. This prompted a frustrated Maidana to gesture at him and mimic the push from Broner and still nothing from the ref.
It seemed like Broner was getting desperate and Maidana came out energized to start the ninth round. He had the momentum and quickly had Broner against the ropes. From there he worked him over – again going to the body and the head. If Maidana was growing tired before the last round the actions of it re-energized him. After the referee had to separate them he gave a very stern warning to Broner for holding Maidana and pulling him down. Maidana had his own response and that was another left hook that staggered Broner.
Then it was Maidana using some Muay Thai as he grabbed the back of Broner’s head and neck with his right hand and then pounded away with the left. He went to the body and the then two straight to the head and Broner staggered away, only to get clipped by another right and left. Somehow he stayed on his feet thought he looked like he was on skates for a second. As Maidana went to work with right and lefts hooking into the body and head Broner for his own Thai clinch with both hands. He then looked like he was going to throw a knee.
Broner was in trouble and was purely defensive at this point in the round. All of the body work Maidana had put in early was starting to show as Broner was the one whose mouth was open. He was also looking a little sluggish and Maidana was riding the adrenaline from the crowd. With one minute left in the round Ranallo informs us that Maidana had thrown 52 punches to Broner’s 5 . Maidana was easily outboxing Broner and was completely comfortable in the ring during this round.
The tenth round was another round where Maidana outworked and out landed Broner again. When he got back to his corner they told him he needed a knockout. This showed that they had an accreted assessment of the fight. Maybe a round to two too late but they understood that they were behind on the scorecards.
In the early moments of the eleventh round it was Maidana who tied up Broner. This time he pinned Broner’s arms against his sides and held them there until the referee separated them. By this point both fighters knew that essentially a head butt or some similar blatant type of foul was going to get you more than a warning.
Broner was again more aggressive and it was a better round for him but Maidana answered him throughout the round. He was moving laterally, creating angles for himself while still light on his feet. They got tied up again and this time Maidana moved in behind Broner and returned the hip thrusts from earlier. This brought another roar from the crowd who sensed the upset.
There was more good action as they engaged in several combination exchanges. Usually Maidana was getting the better of these exchanges landing cleaner and more frequently. In one sequence along the ropes Broner was able to get Maidana off-balance and he missed so badly that he went through the ropes. They fought right past the bell. Maidana landed a left at the bell and Broner a right hand well past it. This earned Broner a stern look from the referee.
The twelfth round was all about the knockout. Broner needed it for the win and Maidana needed to avoid it. There was more action but Broner was never close to hurting Maidana. The round also brought another warning from the referee to Broner about his forearms in the face. When the action restarted Broner was doing well until another left hook that rocked and wobbled Broner. Who managed to stay upright and kept coming forward. The round closed out with more in-close action with Maidana again getting the best of it.
The numbers after the fight showed the dominance of Maidana in this fight. He threw 964 punches and landed 269 to Broner’s 149 of 400. For Maidana, 231 of those punches were power punches. This was consistent with how the fight unfolded as Maidana continued to hurt Broner throughout it and outwork him. The judges scorecards (115-110, 117-109, 116-109) reflected the dominance of Maidana as he became the new WBA welterweight champion.
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It was a great way to end what has been one of the best years in boxing in a long time and it sets up an even bigger 2014 for the sport. Maidana continues to grow under trainer Manuel Cristian Rodriguez winning his fourth fight in a row with him. The scary thing for the other welterweights is Maidana can continue to get better. It is going to be a fun 2014 for boxing fans.
cover image credit – Hogan Photos
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