Khan Versus Maidana Fight Analysis – The Post Mortem

by Fran on January 3, 2011

Khan/Maidana – Fight Of The Year?

Having previously produced an article previewing the Amir Khan Versus Marcos Maidana fight, I wanted to ‘close the circle’ by putting together a technical analysis of the fight.  If you remember, in the original article (Amir Khan Versus Marcos Maidana – The Roach Approach?) I examined the characteristics of the Marcos Maidana boxing style and what I felt Khan trainer Freddie Roach might focus upon in forming the fight strategy and tactics to deploy against the dangerous Argentinian.

The fight took place on 11th December, and what a fight it was!  Many experienced commentators have touted it as the fight of the year, and having watched it a couple of times since, it has to be up there!  For the record I had Khan winning by 115-113 which was much closer than I had originally believed it would be.  I was curious to understand why this was the case.  Was it something that Maidana did, something that Khan did not do or a bit of both?

In terms of the analysis, I usually like to embed video and refer to specific passages of boxing.  Unfortunately I’m unable to do this at this stage as YouTube has not been as giving as it usually is!  I’m sure that in time I’ll be able to ‘fill in the blanks’, but in the meantime I’ll try to be as descriptive as possible without the ‘visual aids.’

Go To War!

From the outset, Marcos Maidana’s whole mindset for the fight was to quite simply ‘Go to war.’  This absolutely needed to be the case, because if he lived for another 100 years he would never be as polished a boxer as Khan.  If Maidana would have stood off Khan, he would have been very soundly beaten.  It was very interesting to note two things from before the fight even began, things that gave an insight into the Maidana psyche:

  • An Argentine flag was unfurled behind Maidana on which was written “Las Malvinas Son Argentinas.”  Now, my Spanish is almost as bad as my English, but this seems to be a reference to the Falkland Islands conflict in 1982 where British and Argentine forces were involved in a short but brutal war.  Khan was born 4 years after the conflict so would not have any personal recollection or indeed familial involvement as his heritage is firmly based in Pakistan.  My belief is that this was a method for Maidana to, in his own mind, go to war as well as maybe win the respect of his compatriots (the Falkand Islands remains a highly sensitive issue in Argentina.)
  • Khan attempted to touch gloves with Maidana at the opening of the first round.  Maidana’s response was to launch a left hook at the head of his adversary.  Again, El Chino wants a war, nothing more, nothing less.

Out of the 12 rounds, it was only the 5th that I observed Maidana standing off Khan and not advancing to war and attacking with reckless abandon!  The result of that round for me was a 10-8 in favour of Khan (albeit a point being deducted for the use of an elbow!)  When Maidana stood off, he was simply outclassed.  His solution?  Attack, attack, attack!

Tread Carefully Amir!

One of Freddie Roach’s key concerns must have been the destructive power of Maidana’s right hand.  This concern became reality in the 10th round, during which a mix of luck and over-eagerness from Maidana combined to see Khan make it through…just!  The reality of that round was that if Maidana had displayed just a little more control, he could have finished Amir.  Check out Marvin Hagler’s devastating finish against Thomas Hearns in their middleweight classic.  Tommy was equally as separated from his senses as Khan was, it’s just that he had the technically proficient and cool-headed Marvin chasing him down!

So, the question occurs that other than one landing early in round 1, how did Khan avoid this right hand shot so effectively for the best part of 10 rounds?  It’s quite simple really.  Orthodox boxers are most comfortable when moving to their left.  It’s much easier to ‘glide’ left whilst pinging off lefts and rights at the opponent.  Khan goes against this and moves, fairly consistently throughout the fight, to his right.  He uses a mix of simple side-stepping right and retreating diagonally right (although the latter is more passive.)  It’s quite interesting to note that the more revered stable mate of Khan, Manny Pacquiao, uses a very similar tactic of retreating diagonally to his left against orthodox opponents and uses speed and aggression to land the southpaw left to great effect, just ask Ricky Hatton!

Double Attacks All The Way!

Khan’s jab sets up all kinds of attacks, it is without question his most important weapon during this fight.  From the outset Khan combines the jab with the lay back to form up lots of double attacks.  The jab, lay back, right hand is particularly effective throughout and is executed at blinding speed, particularly during the early rounds.  Maidana’s jab becomes more effective as the fight progresses, particularly from the 4th onwards, so Khan’s ability to use double attacks consequently increases in importance.  The eye-catching work from Khan is always centred upon the use of double attacks and bursts of 2 and 3 shots.  In fact, this is what won him the fight because as we’ll find out next his infighting was pretty much non-existent!

Fight On the Inside!!!!

The fighting on the inside from Khan, or rather the lack of it, is what I believe almost cost him this fight.  Now look, I’m a big supporter of fighting to your strengths.  Clearly, Amir Khan is an exemplary long range fighter.  In rounds 8 and 9, he lands some of the shots of the fight by smashing in some fantastic mid range right uppercuts into the advancing Maidana, and he does this whilst he is himself backing up.  The spatial awareness and technical accuracy required to perform this shot against a fast attacking opponent is epic; in short, Khan is a brilliant outside fighter.  However, his inside strategy for this fight was in my opinion greatly lacking and in fact contributed to Maidana’s successes as the pressure fighter.

So what do I mean by this?  Well, Maidana must have known that staying at long range was not really going to be a realistic option, for reasons that we have already covered.  It follows then then that he needed to get inside, quickly.  His reward?  Well, Khan’s strategy for being on the inside seemed to consist of a) covering up and b) holding.  Not once in the entire fight did he offer any kind of infighting threat to Maidana.  Khan’s inside strategy was in tatters as early as round 4 because Maidana hammered home short right uppercuts, splitting Khan’s guard in two.  El Chino was able to bully Khan at will.  He basically had no deterrent once he’d overcome the long range defences of Khan.

What then would have been the ideal scenario for Khan?  Well, he needed Maidana to be confused as to what he needed to do.  Maidana had great clarity of purpose – get inside and beat the guy up!  What if Khan would have slammed in 2 or 3 really short hooks and uppercuts and then pivoted out to long range, and what if he had done this consistently throughout the early rounds?  Maidana would have been caught in two minds and this would have been very likely to have reduced the number and intensity of his attacks.  For me, improvement on the inside has to be something that is treated as the highest priority for Khan.  To look for options here, maybe he should check out Floyd Mayweather’s fight against Jesus Chavez in which Mayweather displays some top notch infighting.  See, long range specialists can be good infighters!

And Finally….

Khan versus Maidana certainly was a great fight, there’s no mistake about that.  Khan answered some questions about his supposed inability to take shots and now must look forward to the future.  Because of the contrasting styles, it was a great fight to analyse.  I hope that this analysis has been of some small use.  If you have any questions or would wish to contribute to the analysis, please do so in the comments box below and I’ll respond where I can.

Cheers

Fran

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Nabil January 9, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Thanks a lot, Fran. I will try these out. I wish we had a coach like you. You put a lot of thought into all boxing mechanics. Thanks again.

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Nabil January 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I remember that you mentioned this boxing style (Russian?) somewhere on this website in your comments.

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Nabil January 9, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Cheers Fran.

Could you please offer me some advice related to this. There is one fighting style that I have been having trouble lately boxing against. One of the French guys at the club where I practise uses this technique of keeping his main arm almost half strecthed and keeps like sort of tapping the opponent’s arm. I believe he uses this to deliver fast arm punhces. But I and many others find this very frustrating. I personally only have been boxing for only half an year but even others who have been boxing for more than 3 yrs find his style very annoying. Any advice as how to counter this because it also seems to distract me from my target.

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Fran January 9, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Nabil

I’ll keep this short as I just want you to try something simple. It does indeed sound like that guy is using an Eastern European style which is devised for him to counter punch against you. So, vary your tactics. Be prepared to step back, as he’s likely to prefer you to attack him. Draw him on (using lots of your own feints), make him advance and take him out of his comfort zone. On occasion, make fast, hard attacks. Alternate this and see how it goes. Hope this helps and keep in touch.

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Nabil January 8, 2011 at 12:02 am

Hey Fran, so you fulfilled my request! Thanks & Great analysis of the fight. Now I know why Khan took that many blows because of his underdeveloped infighting skills.

The thing that I noticed was that Amir’s defence was crap. Maidana was constantly going for mid-range uppercuts against him and was many times partially connecting if not fully. However I still dont know why after the first two rounds, Khan never went for body shots despite that it was his body shot that knocked Maidana down in the first round!

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Fran January 9, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Hey Nabil. It just goes to prove that I’ll always try to deliver what you all are wanting! You picked up on an interesting point there, namely why Khan did not use more body shots. I’m as confused as you on that, as Maidana’s double arm blocking (holding is arms quite far from his body) left his body wide open to attack. We’ll see how the next fight goes, whether Khan’s infighting improves and whether he spots them body shots sooner!

Thanks Nabil

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Gary January 7, 2011 at 11:26 am

Hi Fran,

Yet another brilliant article! Your writing style just keeps on improving, and it is very engaging. I always look forward to you adding articles to your website.

Your knowledge and expertise really shine through in your writing, but the thing I like most is that you explain everything so clearly. It’s a shame that the so called ‘TV boxing experts’ don’t have your talent for analysis and explanation.

I love boxing, but I am definitely not an expert. However, the quality of your writing means I don’t have to be – your pre and post fight analysis really add to my enjoyment of televised boxing matches, because they are written in such an easy-to-understand way.

Keep up the excellent work ;o)

Cheers, Gary.

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Fran January 7, 2011 at 10:49 pm

Hey Gary

You’re far too kind! I suppose writing, like boxing, is something that you can become better at as time passes and experience is gained! One of my frustrations about boxing resources on the Web is that very often video and indeed writing tries to cover too much without actually achieving any of it. I think that being focused and very specific about one or two particular skills, issues, tactics etc. is much more effective. In fact, it’s not unlike working the corner of a boxer. You can shout as many instructions and offer as much advice as you like, but the reality is that the boxer will remember one or at most two of your points before being flung back into battle. So, why not just offer one or two points?

Anyway, I’ll continue to work hard on the quality of the content for the site and I am and will continue to be very flattered by your compliments and support.

Cheers Gary!

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