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Maidana Finishes Ortiz with Fury

In an exhilarating, rock 'em sock 'em throwdown at the Staples Center tonight, Marcos Maidana (26-1) shocked the fight world by stopping Victor Ortiz (25-2-1) in the sixth round after a brutal and reckless night of fighting that saw each man bloodied, and each taste the canvas. The victory earned Maidana the interim WBA light welterweight title, and no doubt earned him a whole new fanbase as well, as the Argentinian brawler made a major statement in his U.S. debut, pummeling to submission one of boxing's young, rising stars in one of the most exciting fights of the year.

Ortiz almost appeared to retire from the bout in the sixth after being dropped by a furious onslaught from Maidana that concluded with a bruising left to Ortiz's ribs that sent him sprawling along the ring-ropes. Cut badly over his right eye and with his left rapidly closing due to swelling, Ortiz looked as though he'd had enough, gesturing to his swollen eye as he got to his feet. After consulting with the ring doctor, the referee stopped the bout at 46 seconds of the sixth round, making Maidana the surprise winner by TKO.

From the very start, this fight doubled as an early Fourth-of-July fireworks display. After a tentative minute of feeling each other out, the niceties were summarily dispensed with in the first round when Ortiz leaped on Maidana in the corner and sent him down to a knee with a crisp one-two. Before the crowd could even generate a chant of Ortiz's name, however, Maidana was up and knocking Ortiz off his feet with a perfect right hook to the kisser. Clearly hurt at that point, Ortiz fought back valiantly and mounted a comeback to close out the round as both fighters exchanged wild haymakers with urgent desperation. As they returned to their corners, the Staples Center crowd leapt to its feet and roared with the awareness that, for however long it lasted, THIS was going to be one hell of a fight.

The second round more than delivered on that promise, as Maidana dominated the early minutes only to get floored twice late to turn it into a 10-7 frame in Ortiz's favor. By the third, the fight had fallen into a pattern, one that saw Ortiz punching first and often while Maidana retreated and looked to counter. The fourth was more of the same, as Ortiz took command and opened a small cut under Maidana's left eye. At that point, it was arguable that Ortiz hadn't yet lost a round, and with a 10-7 in his pocket and most of the momentum going his way, it appeared to be Ortiz's fight to lose.

But they don't call this kid "Vicious" for nothing. Caution had been long thrown out the window in this thing, as the "el mas macho" vibe was thick in the arena's atmosphere. As Ortiz went in for the kill in the fifth, his reckless fury cost him greatly. He ate a giant left hook from Maidana that opened a nasty cut over his right eye, one that immediately sent the claret flowing into his field of vision. Like a shark in bloody waters, an emboldened Maidana seized control with a series of right hands that wobbled Ortiz and started a welt swelling under his left eye. Right at the start of the sixth, Maidana landed yet another pinpoint right to that badly swollen eye, and Ortiz staggered back to the corner in obvious pain and on weak legs. The end came soon after that, as Maidana stopped the wounded Ortiz and immediately embarked upon a new phase in his career, one where he finds himself suddenly catapulted into the limelight as an unexpected major player at 140 pounds. As for Ortiz, the anointed heir of the Golden Boy universe, the fight was a major setback, and afterwards he seemed aware that he'd let a great opportunity slip through his fingers. "I usually keep composed," he said, "but tonight I wasn't. I thought I could hurt him, and I thought could knock him out, and I made some mistakes." Those mistakes cost him a big win on a big stage, but given the electrifying nature of the loss, it's doubtful that they cost him any of his true fans.

Posted 12:00 AM | Jun 27, 2009

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