Amir Imam (16-0, 14 KOs) maintains his undefeated record in a fight of the year candidate against Fidel Maldonado Jr. (19-3, 16 KOs). It was a classic bout of the boxer and brawler trying to impose their style on one another.
In opening round Maldonado was very patient fighting off his back foot trying to draw in the boxer, Imam, into a big shot. Maldonado’s game plan enabled him to land a couple of punches when Imam would come forward and shorten the distance, but Imam was not fazed by any of Maldonado punches. Despite this, Maldonado’s higher level of activity level allowed him to win the round.
In the second round Imam increased his offensive output, but Maldonado’s strategy of punching with his opponent allowed him to maul Imam in spurts. It seemed as Maldonado was going to walk away with another round in his bag until he got knocked down by a sharp right hand counter while lunging in in the final seconds of the round. He seemed to be on unsteady legs, but the round was already over allowing him to undergo the one minute rest period immediately.
Then miraculously Maldonado opened up the very next round with a hard right hand up the middle that sent Imam to the canvas. Maldonado was very enthusiastic after scoring the knockdown, and may have gotten too reckless against a sharp counter puncher, which caused him to get knocked down once again but this time off an exchange. Maldonado managed to beat the count, but got floored again close to the end of the round while being too squared up.
In the next couple of rounds Imam starting to get more comfortable in the fight, by throwing sharp potshots and counterpunches and was able to out point Maldonado. Then in the 5th round Maldonado wanted to take the fight into close range and pushed Imam against the ropes and was having success, but once again he left himself in a vulnerable position and Imam landed a sharp left hook counter and scored a knockout.
Both fighters showed tremendous heart by getting off the canvas and grinding through very tough situations, but it was Imam’s composure and ability to adapt that allowed him to win the fight. Even though Imam put on a tremendously entertaining bout, he may need a bit of polishing on his defensive skills. Nonetheless Imam and Maldonado are both very young fighters with promising futures in the super lightweight division.