Maidana fights with bitterness, looks forward to headline bout

Marcos Maidana said he can’t afford to live in the past, even though the outcome of his Dec. 11 loss to Amir Khan still irks him.

Maidana had Khan in big trouble during the 10th round of their WBA junior welterweight title fight at Mandalay Bay, and Maidana said he is convinced he would have finished off Khan and claimed the belt had referee Joe Cortez allowed him to fight.

Maidana claims Cortez allowed a tired, beaten Khan to hang on by permitting him to remain in clinches, which kept Maidana from pressing forward for the knockout.

Cortez also deducted a point from Maidana’s score in the fifth round after Maidana hit Khan with an elbow.

“The referee bothered me,” Maidana said. “He wouldn’t let me fight. It’s hard to fight two guys at the same time.”

Maidana wound up losing a 12-round unanimous decision.

He won’t have to worry about Cortez when he returns to the ring April 9 to challenge Erik Morales for the vacant title at the MGM Grand Garden. Tony Weeks will be the third man in the ring for the 12-round bout, and the 27-year-old Maidana (29-2, 27 knockouts) is fine with that.

“I’m just going to fight my fight,” the Argentinian said. “I’m not worried about what happened the last time. What good does it do?”

As he prepares for the 34-year-old Morales (51-5, 35 KOs), Maidana again has changed trainers, dropping Las Vegas’ Miguel Diaz for Rudy Perez after briefly entertaining the idea of working with Nacho Beristain. Maidana and Perez spent nearly five weeks in Mexico training at altitude to get his conditioning up before moving camp to Las Vegas on March 15, training at the Pound 4 Pound Gym on Spring Mountain Road.

“Mexico was good because it gave me my conditioning,” Maidana said. “In Vegas, I’m focusing on the game plan and maintaining my conditioning.”

Maidana spent 18 months with Diaz. He said it was his decision to bring in Perez.

“(Diaz) was very helpful. He taught me some tricks, and I’m grateful for his help,” Maidana said. “But I felt it was time to make a change and move on.”

Maidana said Perez hasn’t changed his style and is just refining his technique.

“We’re still getting to know each other,” Maidana said. “But so far, it’s been good.”

As for the April 9 fight, Maidana is not taking Morales lightly, even though Maidana figures to be a big favorite .

“I’ve watched Morales’ last three fights, and I respect him,” Maidana said of the former world champion, who is in the midst of a comeback after retiring in 2007 following a loss to David Diaz.

Golden Boy Promotions has added a 10-round welterweight fight between Paulie Malignaggi and Jose Miguel Cotto on the Maidana-Morales undercard.

■ LAWSUIT MOVES FORWARD — U.S. District Court Judge Larry Hicks on Monday refused to throw out Manny Pacquiao’s defamation lawsuit against Floyd Mayweather Jr.; his father, Floyd Sr.; his uncle, Roger; and Golden Boy Promotions after they claimed Pacquiao used performance-enhancing drugs while becoming the first fighter to win world titles in eight weight classes.

Daniel Petrocelli, Pacquiao’s Los Angeles-based attorney, said the suit, initially filed in 2009, will proceed as planned.

“Manny has an unblemished reputation and has earned all of his achievements through hard work and his natural-born talent,” Petrocelli said. “To call him a cheater is something he cannot and will not tolerate.

“None of these defendants have any evidence to back up the assertion that he has taken performance-enhancing drugs, because he didn’t.”

■ BACK TO RIO — Crown Boxing returns to the Rio on Friday with a five-bout card headlined by cruiserweight Henry Namauu.

Namauu (9-3, five KOs), a former UNLV boxer, faces Victor Barragan (11-6, three KOs) in the 10-round main event, which will be for the IBA Americas cruiserweight belt.

Four other Las Vegans are on the card: featherweights Rocco Santamauro, Brian Battease and Rocco Espinoza, and women’s featherweight Mandy LaPointe.

First bell is at 7 p.m. for the card in the Rio’s Pavilion-Convention Center.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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