In an interim title fight between two boxing stars, we can expect nothing less than a head-on collision between two planets. But the planets colliding April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (HBO PPV, 10 p.m. ET) could not be further apart from each other. Three-division champion and battle-tested veteran Erik Morales of Mexico will face Argentina's Marcos Maidana, a young contender and murderous puncher with more-than-respectable boxing skills. It's the proverbial crossroads fight, with the winner moving on to greater challenges and the loser at risk of spinning out of orbit in an already crowded galaxy at 140 pounds, which includes some of the best fighters in boxing. We caught up with Maidana during the final leg of his training camp in Las Vegas to hear his thoughts on the fight.
What can you tell us about your training for this fight?
Training has been the same, just as in any other fight. I always train very hard and I trained well for this fight, too, so I'm feeling very good. I was in Mexico for five weeks, and now we're going to finish our job here in Las Vegas. In Mexico, we trained in the mountains and all that, and here in Vegas we just finished our preparation with four more weeks of training. We're getting acclimated here; we come a few weeks early just to get acclimated and feel comfortable before the fight.
Do you think you need to win convincingly to stay among the top fighters at 140 pounds?
I always come to win, I never settle for a defeat. I always go for a victory. I want to win, and in this fight I will come out charging forward. I will go out, wait to see what Morales does and how he wants to fight, and then get my punches in there and see if I can knock him out. And if I can't, I'll take the victory on points.
What do you think Morales saw in you that made him choose you as his opponent?
I don't know. Probably he's under the impression that he can beat me. But I don't see the possibility of him beating me. I'm well-prepared and I'm not going to give him the advantage in anything.
What does Morales bring to the table that maybe you haven't seen from another opponent?
Morales has a lot of experience, as we all know. He was a world champion three times, but he is past his prime and his best days are behind him. He is on the way out. He is bigger and slower, and he won't be the same as he was before.
A lot of people believe that Morales is taking a dangerous chance with you. Do you agree or are you convinced this will be a competitive fight?
No, I believe it will be a fair fight because he is fine. I see him doing well physically. If he chose to fight me, he must be feeling OK.
What are your thoughts about the situation with Nacho Beristain, who chose not to train you after he was asked by Juan Manuel Márquez to train him instead? Has this episode significantly affected your training camp?
I have already left all that behind. Now we're training with Rudy Perez, who is a great trainer, and we're getting to know each other and getting along real well. That episode didn't affect me that much.
Have you been able to put together a game plan with Perez [who trained Marco Antonio Barrera in two victories over Morales] that may give Morales trouble?
Rudy brought a little bit of everything. We'll see whether I can show my progress on fight night. I do a lot of gym work with him, and I pay attention to everything he says.
What are your postfight plans? Are you still gunning for Amir Khan?
I'm going to wait and see what the market has to offer. I'm over Khan, and if sometime in the future we find the opportunity to fight him again, we'll do it. But for now it's all OK. I don't have anybody in mind; I will wait and see who comes up next on my list, and that's it.
How do you envision the fight developing, round by round?
I imagine a slow fight until one of us lets loose, and then we go toe-to-toe for the rest of the night. We can make all kinds of plans, but up there [in the ring], things turn out completely different.
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.