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Maldonado Jr. set to fight at Cowboys’ new arena

How ’bout them Maldonados?

Albuquerque boxer Fidel Maldonado Jr., says his father, trainer and manager Fidel Sr., is a Denver Broncos fan. Nonetheless, the two Fidels will be delighted to visit the Dallas Cowboys’ shiny, new state-of-the-art training facility in Frisco, Texas, next month.

On June 17, Maldonado Jr. is scheduled to face Mexico’s Pablo César Cano at the Ford Center, the Cowboys’ on-site multi-purpose facility. The 10-round bout is scheduled to be telecast on ESPN2.

The arena seats some 12,000 people and serves as the home football field for Frisco high schools, which have produced several University of New Mexico football players the past few years. It recently was announced as the site of the Conference USA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments the next two seasons.

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The June 17 card will be the first boxing event the Ford Center has hosted.

The Maldonados, of course, are far more excited about the fight itself than about the site. The WBC Central American Boxing Federation (Fecarbox) junior welterweight title will be at stake, but the real prize, Maldonado Sr. said, is what might lie ahead for the winner.

A victory over Cano, the elder Maldonado said, is “gonna put Fidel in a spot to get on a big show. There’s already one (in the works), but I can’t say yet. We’ve got to beat this guy, and then we’ll announce it.”

Beating Cano (30-5-1, 21 knockouts) has been a tough chore over the course of the Mexican fighter’s 11-year professional career. Three of those five losses have come to world champions: Erik Morales, Paulie Malignaggi and Shane Mosley. The Mosley fight was a narrow decision, and the split-decision loss to Malignaggi — Cano floored the then-WBA welterweight champion in the 11th round — was hotly disputed.

Cano has been stopped short of the distance twice, in losses by TKO to Morales and Fernando Angulo, but has never been knocked out or knocked down.

“He’s relentless,” Maldonado Sr. said. “…. This guy doesn’t care. He’ll go in there and just try to break you down and take you out. … He’s battle-proven, and we’ve got to be smart, because he can punch.”

Maldonado Jr. (23-3-1, 19 knockouts) can punch as well, but his father continues to emphasize to his son that using his boxing skills are paramount against a rugged, straight-ahead banger like Cano.

“We’ve got to … pick our spots, keep him off balance, keep him reaching and turning,” Maldonado Sr. said.

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Maldonado Jr. is 4-0-1 in his last five bouts, but his career arc has not completely recovered from a loss by fifth-round TKO to then-unbeaten Amir Imam in January 2015.

A major opportunity was lost when a scheduled December bout against unbeaten Antonio Orozco fell through. Orozco fainted the morning of the weigh-in from apparent dehydration and was ruled unfit to fight.

A victory over Cano, Maldonado Sr. believes, especially a convincing one, could propel the 25-year-old Albuquerque southpaw into the junior welterweight world title picture.

The Cano fight, the elder Maldonado said, is “a big show for us, a career changer. If we’re impressive here, that sets the stage for a world title.

“This one’s for a (regional) WBC belt, but we want the world title.”

The June 17 show will be promoted by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions. Cano and Maldonado Jr. both are Golden Boy contract fighters.

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