Twenty years ago today, Marcos Maidana – for plenty of fight fans, one of the most go-to warriors of the 2000s in terms of seeing guaranteed action – punched out his pro debut. After having a good amateur career, Maidana, during which time he fought at 64kg, with him going a reported 86-4, turned pro in his native Argentina. Fighting in Corrientes, Argentina, “El Chino” would fight at home until his 18th fight, all wins, with all but one win coming via KO or stoppage.

In June 2007, Maidana began boxing regularly in Germany, and he got his first shot at a world title there. A 25-year-old Maidana came up short, dropping a split decision to Andreas Kotelnik. A setback? Maybe, but Maidana was soon to burst onto the world stage in a thrilling, scintillating fashion.

After going home angry after the Kotelnik loss – the decision agreed upon as a controversial one – Maidana boxed his US debut. And what a debut it proved to be. Facing perceived future star and betting favorite Victor Ortiz in Los Angeles in June of 2009, Maidana played his part in one of the greatest slugfests ever seen at 140 pounds. Both men hit the mat in a fight that continues to be enjoyed and celebrated on YouTube, with Ortiz eventually quitting, the loser famously stating in the ring how he “can’t keep getting his like this,” or words to that effect.

Maidana, the owner of a TKO win, had not even started causing mayhem in America!

Having won the vacant WBA interim belt at 140 with the attention-grabbing win over Ortiz, Maidana faced Victor Cayo in Vegas, with him getting another win at the halfway stage of a fight. Then came a close points win over the savvy DeMarcus Corley, who got up from a knockdown to push Maidana hard. Soon, fight fans worldwide would be watching Maidana go to work.

Maidana boxed British hero Amir Khan in what turned out to be a modern day classic (chalk this one up as Maidana’s second modern-day classic), with Khan scoring a hurtful early knockdown and then somehow surviving hellish punishment late on to take the decision victory and hold onto his WBA belt. Maidana never really stopped asking for a rematch.

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Instead, Maidana faced Mexican legend Erik Morales, and yet another great fight was witnessed. Morales, who arguably put on his last great fight, fought with a swollen eye, this as he surprised many by taking Maidana all the way. It was a majority decision win for Maidana.

Then came a win over Petr Petrov, before Maidans lost on points to Devon Alexander. Now 31-3, Maidana might have peaked. Or so the thinking was. No chance.

Maidana bounced back by scoring fan-friendly stoppage wins over Jesus Soto Karras and Josesito Lopez – before Maidana took care of a “Problem.” The big win Maidana scored in shutting up (for a while at least) big mouth Adrien Broner, literally changed “El Chino’s” life.

Dropping the cocksure, he had no idea what he was in for Broner early, Maidana landed plenty of hurt in hammering out a decision win. Broner, at the time close buddies with Floyd Mayweather, cut a sad and lonely figure as he walked/stumbled back to his dressing room after the beating/life lesson he had taken.

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In stepped Floyd to put Maidana back in his place. Maidana had hit the jackpot, the fight with “Money” earning him a pile of the stuff. And it could be argued – in fact it is by some fans to this day – that Maidana gave Mayweather his toughest ever fight when they slugged it out in May of 2014.

Jumping right on Mayweather, Maidana enjoyed success, while he forced Floyd to fight. This was no typical Mayweather fight/performance and, aside from Jose Luis Castillo in April of 2002, no man ever came so close to ruining Mayweather’s perfect record.

It was so close, Mayweather’s pride was jarred. To his credit, Mayweather took the immediate rematch, and this time, showing again how he could make the necessary adjustments in a fight-two, Floyd boxed his way to a clear-cut decision win over the fierce Argentine terror. But Maidana didn’t seem to really care; he had made his money, and now he was going to enjoy it!

Retiring with a hard-earned 35-5(31) record in late 2014, Maidana, who was never stopped in any fight, went out feeling good, feeling rich, and feeling content. He had, in short, done way more than anyone could have expected, himself included.

To this day, Marcos Maidana ranks as one of the most popular, one of the most respected, and one of the most fun fighters to watch. Ever.

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