Maidana, Garcia make perfect team

LAS VEGAS -- After Marcos Maidana, who had vacated his junior welterweight title, moved up to welterweight and lost a near shutout decision to Devon Alexander in February 2012, he thought seriously about retiring from boxing.

But a talk with his manager and a change in trainer put him on the road to greater glory, a second world title and the opportunity of a lifetime when he meets fellow welterweight titlist Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a unification fight on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

"After I lost to Devon Alexander, when I had moved up to welterweight, I just felt that wasn't my division to fight at so I didn't want to do it anymore," Maidana said through a translator.

But Sebastian Contursi, Maidana's manager, knew Maidana still had a lot to offer. He felt that a change of scenery would do him some good and he called trainer Robert Garcia, one of the best in the business.

"Sebastian Contursi called me. I was actually training [former lightweight titlist] Brandon Rios when I got the call," Garcia said. "He told me 'Chino' was on the verge of not wanting to fight anymore and they asked him [to give it another try]. They told him, 'We have the perfect trainer for you.' Chino had no idea who I was, but he decided to come and take a chance and that was the beginning."

Maidana relocated his training to Garcia's gym in Oxnard, California, and they have meshed well together. Heading into the fight with Mayweather, Maidana has won all four of his fights with Garcia in his corner, including knockouts of Jesus Soto Karass and Josesito Lopez and a big upset decision win against Adrien Broner to win a welterweight title in December.

"I'm better now that I've been working with Robert Garcia. I feel much better. My punches are connecting even stronger now because the punches are being thrown in a better location and with precision," Maidana said. "I feel a lot better. I feel much, much better now that I've been working with Robert Garcia."

Garcia said that Maidana has been an ideal pupil.

"This is my fifth fight with Marcos and, since day one, he has come to learn and listened to everything I say," he said. "I tell him something and he does it. He's great to work with, so willing. For a trainer, that is quite a blessing."

Although Alexander is a southpaw and Mayweather is orthodox, they are similar in the sense that they are quick boxers, which does not bode well for Maidana. But Garcia dismissed the notion that a poor performance against Alexander would have any bearing on Saturday's fight.

"Mayweather's not gonna have the Maidana that fought Devon Alexander," he said. "That was two years ago. I wasn't involved. Since he has been with me, it's a different Maidana so Mayweather will see a different Maidana."

A win would not only be historic for Maidana and his country of Argentina, but a massive win for Garcia.

"We're going against the best in the world, we're going in against the best in history," he said. "It is big, bigger than what I've already been involved in. I've been in great fights [as a trainer] against some of the best fighters in the world but this is definitely the biggest challenge, the biggest name that we've faced."

Garcia has trained multiple fighters against Manny Pacquiao and has been in the corner in numerous world title fights, having worked with fighters such as Nonito Donaire, Mikey Garcia (his brother), Antonio Margarito and Rios.

"A win would be huge, not only for myself, but I don't do things by myself," he said. "I have a great team with [strength coach] Alex [Ariza], the cook, our assistants, our dietitian, nurse. We have everything in our camp and everybody is part of the win.

"Those are huge fights [against Pacquiao]. Pacquiao has been the best for many years and he has done a lot. He has accomplished more [weight class] titles than Mayweather has but we just got to be real -- Mayweather's the best at this right now and he's huge. He's the best. This is way, way bigger."