<
>

Maidana: 'I have to win at any cost'

Marcos Maidana is open to the idea of a welterweight tournament, or perhaps an Amir Khan rematch. Matt A. Brown/Icon SMI

When his much-anticipated matchup against two-division champ Robert Guerrero had to be scrapped at the last minute when Guerrero suffered an injury, hard-hitting Argentine champ Marcos Maidana (30-2, 27 KOs) had to decide whether to let more than two months of training in Puerto Rico go to waste or put together a new title defense on short notice. Maidana chose the latter, so he will fight Friday at Sociedad Alemana in Villa Ballester, near his home in suburban Buenos Aires, making the first defense of his interim WBA junior welterweight title against Spain-based Russian Petr Petrov (23-2-2, 13 KOs). ESPN.com recently caught up with Maidana during his prefight activities to get his thoughts on the fight.

What can you tell us about your training for this fight?
Training was great. We had great weather all the time. I trained in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico. I sparred with a few local amateur guys who are great boxers and [they] helped me a lot. I went to Puerto Rico because my physical endurance trainer [Cruz Pensa Garcia] lives there, and we were very comfortable.

Have you settled into working with new trainer Rudy Perez? What have you learned from him?
Luckily, we have worked well with him. This is my second fight with him, and we have worked well. I have gained a lot of confidence, and I got used to working with him already. I am learning quite a lot with him.

Your problems with stamina seemed to resurface against Erik Morales in April. Have you improved on that after your last fight?
In this fight, I will see whether the training I did in Puerto Rico paid dividends, and I will see if the work I'm doing is really paying off. I believe it will. It also has a lot to do with the way I control my own energy and my punch output, and I am focusing on that a lot. I have been running a lot. What happens is that I go out in the first few rounds and then I pause a little bit, because you need to win the first few rounds and then close the fight winning the last few rounds as well.

Do you believe a jump in weight class might provide you with the extra energy you seem to need?
Right now I feel comfortable. It takes me a bit of extra effort to make weight, but I always make it. If I eat well and train hard, I have to [work] on both things to make weight, but I do make it. Maybe next year I will go up for one or two fights, but I will jump only one division because I have been able to make 140 since I started my professional career.

What do you know about your new opponent, Petrov?

We've seen a few videos of his fights, and the truth is that he seems to be a fast fighter with good technique. He throws very accurate punches and he is very capable both on defense and offense. Logically, he is fast in both aspects, throwing combinations of several punches and then moving to the side real quick.

Did missing out on Guerrero affect your motivation?
When I heard the news, I got pretty depressed, especially during the first few days. The entire group had made a big effort, and in a minute it seemed like we ended up empty-handed. But we returned to Argentina and then the enthusiasm came back to me, along with the desire to get into the ring immediately to show off what I had worked on during training camp.

How do you feel about coming back to fight in Argentina?

Well, I am very happy because it's quite different for me when I fight in front of my people -- and especially in my own neighborhood. This is something that I don't get the chance to do very often, and I am enjoying it. That's why I want to give my fans a KO victory, because I know that's what they are expecting from me. But I always respect my opponents, and if I can't win by KO, I have to win at any cost, no matter what.

With Guerrero out of the picture for quite a while, what other fights do you see yourself making?
Right now I am only focused on Petrov, because in boxing you should never underestimate anyone. I respect Petrov and I must defeat him. But everyone knows that if I get a good offer, I will fight anyone.

There is talk that Golden Boy is planning a welterweight tournament to find future opponents for Floyd Mayweather Jr. What do you think of the idea? Would you like to participate?
It depends on what happens with this fight. I have to win first and then we'll see, because I am sure there will be a lot of good things happening to me after winning this fight. If I do win, I hope to face a top name and make good purses. I hope to fight [Timothy] Bradley or [Devon] Alexander, or maybe a rematch with [Amir] Khan. First, I have to beat the Russian. After that, we can talk.

Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.