Marcos Maidana retires at age 33

Former welterweight and junior welterweight world titleholder Marcos Maidana had not fought since the second of back-to-back decision losses to Floyd Mayweather in September 2014, but although he was enjoying the good life after those two enormous paydays, he recently hinted at a comeback.

In the months following the second fight with Mayweather, photos of "Chino" circulated on the internet in which he appeared to be pushing cruiserweight rather than welterweight. But when he attended younger brother Fabian Maidana's July 23 fight in San Antonio, he appeared in far better condition, leading to renewed speculation that he would make a ring return.

But on Tuesday, the 33-year-old Maidana, who turned pro in 2004, won two world titles, made millions and fought in the kind of bruising manner that made him a fan favorite, announced his retirement.

"After a long time out of the ring and after giving it a lot of thought since my last fight I've decided to hang up the gloves for good," Maidana wrote in a letter addressed to "boxing friends" on social media. "Probably my decision would not surprise much as I had given hints of it in the last few months. But at this time I am making it official.

"Before anything else, I must say that I leave very proud and deeply thankful to boxing and everything that I have achieved. I've really never imagined getting this far when I put on a pair of gloves for the very first time when I was 15 in my native Margarita City. I think I was able to put the name of my country Argentina very high after winning two world titles, winning and losing against the best fighters of the world.

"I had a tough career and I fulfilled many of my dreams. I am a very happy man with my family and friends by my side these days. I know many of you think that I still have things to do and battles to fight. And I respect them. That is something that I had in my mind in the last few months. But only those who really know what a real challenge is, like the ones I always had, may understand that you have to be absolutely motivated to approach them.

"Only through a great physical and mental effort you can mix in the ring with best of the world if winning is your goal. And I always wanted to win. Today I do not feel motivated enough, do not have the fire inside me to intend to climb those mountains again. That is why I announce my retirement. At this time when I take a look back at my career I want to thank so many people that helped me to have what I call a successful career."

Maidana gave thanks to the many people who helped him along the way, among them: Ricardo Linari, who discovered him; trainers Ricardo Ferreiro, Robert Garcia, Rudy Perez and Rafael Liendo; longtime adviser Sebastian Contursi; adviser Al Haymon; strength coaches Raul Robles, Cruz Garcia, Alex Ariza and Cicilio Flores; promoters Golden Boy and Universum; and his family.

"To my parents, Olga and Americo, to my wife Mariana, to my son Nahuel and my daughter Emilia, to all of them, thanks for standing by me for such a long ride," he said. "Last but not the least, to my dear fans, who always supported and cheered me either from their homes or from the stands of all the arenas where I fought. I will never forget that chanting: 'Chi-nooooo, Chi-nooooo!'"

Maidana (35-5, 31 KOs) fought the first two years of his career exclusively in Argentina before signing with now-defunct German promoter Universum and fighting on its cards in Germany, including his first world title opportunity, a split-decision loss to Andriy Kotelnik for a junior welterweight belt in February 2009.

But in his next fight, in June 2009, Maidana made his American debut with Golden Boy in rock 'em, sock 'em style. Headlining a card at Staples Center in Los Angeles, he was the underdog against rising star Victor Ortiz. But in a wild, frenzied fight of the year contender, Maidana survived three knockdowns in the first two rounds, dropped Ortiz in the first and sixth rounds and made him quit in the sixth to win a vacant interim junior welterweight belt in an epic fight.

Maidana's fights became must-see TV. He won his next three and then found himself in another barnburner, albeit it a close decision loss to Amir Khan in a world title bout in December 2010 that was voted fight of the year by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He then beat future Hall of Famer Erik Morales in another slugfest for a vacant interim title and was later elevated to a full titleholder, defending once against Petr Petrov in an Argentina homecoming bout.

When Maidana moved up to welterweight he suffered a controversial 10-round decision loss to Devon Alexander. But then Maidana won his next four fights, including exciting battles against Jesus Soto Karass and Josesito Lopez and the biggest win of his career, a punishing decision in an upset of Adrien Broner, whom he knocked down twice and embarrassed, to win a welterweight world title in December 2013.

It was the superb showing against Broner that drew the attention of Mayweather, whom he first fought in May 2014 in a welterweight title unification bout. Maidana gave Mayweather one of the toughest fights of his career, but Mayweather won a majority decision, prompting him to give Maidana a rematch four months later.

Maidana had his moments against Mayweather again, but lost a unanimous decision in what turned out to be his final fight, assuming the retirement sticks.

"At this time I start a new stage in which I will remain close to boxing, advising and unconditionally supporting 'Team Maidana,' aiming for new generations to reach the highest levels," Maidana said. "I will be there for our (featherweight titlist) Jesus Cuellar, for new great prospects like Brian Castaño, my brother Fabian Maidana (and) Alan Castaño, who are already making some noise internationally; for Javier Maciel. Also I will be there for the new kids like Neri Romero and Luis Veron. And most likely I will be there for many others who will join us along the road looking for great challenges. My goal is to pass the baton over to them now."