Maidana KO a step toward larger goal

A hook to the body was all Marcos Maidana, left, needed to finish Angel Martinez in three rounds. Ramon Cairo for ESPN.com

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Marcos Maidana may not always abide direct orders, but he is proving that he nevertheless learns his lessons well.

Maidana, continuing to mix more new elements introduced by new trainer Robert Garcia into his technique, stopped Mexico's Angel Martinez with a terrific hook to the body in the third round Wednesday at the legendary Luna Park arena in front of some 5,000 fans.

After the first round of Wednesday's fight, Garcia made some quick assessments and offered some pointed words to Maidana.

"It's OK, but I want you to rotate your waist more and get more to the body," Garcia told his charge. "Use the jab all the time and get yourself in check, be patient and try to shorten the distance."

As soon as the bell rang for the second round, Maidana ran toward Angel Martinez and fired a terrific straight right, forgetting all previous instructions.

"That's Maidana, a hot-blooded guy, and sometimes he forgets our advice," a smiling Garcia said after the fight. "But you must have noticed that later he asked us to give him some advice again."

With the win, Maidana (33-3, 30 KOs) retained the international welterweight title he had grabbed in Las Vegas on Sept. 15 after a victory against Jesus Soto Karass. Meanwhile, 21-year-old Martinez (13-4-1, 9 KOs) lost his third bout in a row. (The streak began in February, when he retired on his stool after the sixth round against Argentina's Lucas Matthysse.)

Martinez wasn't exactly a risky opponent for Maidana, who pressed relentlessly in search of an early ending.

Maidana was the aggressor and, just as Garcia asked, consistently threw his jab and rotated his waist in order to close the gap -- all while avoiding mistakes. It was a departure from his previous experience at Luna Park, in August 2010, when Maidana won a controversial decision against DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley.

"I knew that if I hit him low he was going to fall, because I watched some of his videos," Maidana said of Martinez. "[He] escaped a little bit, but I believe I kept my cool. I wanted to score a KO at Luna Park because I wanted to perform well in front of my people, but also because the last time I was in this stadium I didn't have a great night against Chop Chop Corley. Now I hope to fight in the U.S., and I hope it will be against Paul Malignaggi."

Keith Thurman's name was prominently mentioned in the corridors of Luna Park as a potential follow-up opponent for Maidana, although the weight discrepancy -- Maidana weighed in at 145½ pounds against Martinez; Thurman weighed 152 for his most recent fight -- and the fact that Maidana has already passed on him once makes that prospect uncertain at best.

"We are going to listen to whatever Golden Boy has to offer and then we'll decide, but it is clear that Golden Boy always offers Marcos very tough fights," said Sebastian Contursi, Maidana's adviser.

"We want to fight for a world title because the fight with Soto Karass was an elimination fight. They offered us a fight with Thurman last year and we said no because Thurman is a talent on the rise, and beating him won't add a meaningful name to our record, and losing to a fighter that in February fought under Maidana [on the undercard of Maidana's loss to Devon Alexander] indicates that we have a lot to lose and very little to gain, and that's why we didn't accept this fight. We'll wait for more offers, but Maidana will surely be fighting early in 2013 in the United States."

In the ring, Maidana delivered what was expected -- and received no surprises from his opponent. The fight seemed to be a low-risk proposition and sure enough, only a few counterpunches from Martinez landed on Maidana's face.

Midway through the third round, Garcia shouted to Maidana to "remember to go to the body," and it was just at that moment, very near the Argentine's corner, that he unleashed a solid hook to the body that landed on the right side of the ribcage and sent Martinez to the canvas. Martinez stood up in pain and was promptly assisted. The punch had been tremendous, both in speed and power.

"Now we look forward to rest and celebrating the holidays, and then we'll surely start training again, because I believe I will be fighting in the first few months of next year," Maidana said.

The fighter, smiling and happy, then left the grounds with his family. Another night at Luna Park was in the books. Another new and sizable challenge awaits Maidana, who has set his mind on becoming a world champion for a second time.