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Amir Khan vs. Paul Malignaggi Fight Preview and Prediction

When: Saturday, May 15, 2010
Where: Madison Square Garden in New York City
TV: HBO at 9:45 p.m. (EST)
Weight Class: WBA Light Welterweight Championship: 12 Rounds

By Scotty L of Predictem.com

Amir Khan, 23-1 (16 KOs), Bolton, Lancashire, United Kingdom, WBA Light Welterweight Champion. Vs. Paul Malignaggi, 27-3 (5 KOs), Brooklyn, NY.

Fight Odds: Amir Khan (-500), Paul Malignaggi (+350)
Over/Under: Over 11.5 (-150), Under 11.5 (+110)

Analysis: British superstar Amir Khan and Brooklyn’s Paulie Malignaggi fight on HBO on Saturday—live from Madison Square Garden. Both of these fighters are on the short list of the real players at junior welterweight. The winner puts himself in line for some gigantic matchups down the line. These men are charismatic performers with great skills and talent. It should be an exciting fight, both in the boxing and gamesmanship category.

U.S. fans are excited and skeptical of Khan at the same time. We see he is a dynamic boxer, capable of expert long-range boxing while possessing a heavy punch. Everything looks good when you see he was an Olympic medallist at 17 and is now working with trainer-extraordinaire Freddie Roach. He has a list of good wins and is clearly bursting at the seams with physical gifts. Then comes the part about his chin.

Khan has been dropped alarmingly by clubfighters and was wiped out by Breidis Prescott in September of 2008 in one round. Watching him crumple from Prescott’s right hands was worrisome to say the least. A bad chin is really the one area in a fighter’s arsenal that is impossible to improve. This issue has plagued great talents in the past. While they were capable of great success, it was only a matter a time before they got clocked by a solid shot and knocked out. A glassy jaw is simply something you cannot hide from.

What fighters with a glass jaw can do is develop a style that shields that weakness while picking opponents incapable of exploiting it. Khan has done well on both counts. Freddie Roach is great at molding fighters to use angles and savvy to stay out of their opponent’s wheelhouses. Since losing to Prescott, Khan has forgone his urge to please fans, opting for a more moving, clever, and cute style that showcases his speed while shielding his chin.

Let’s be frank: Malignaggi can’t break an egg. He has been saying he is going to knock out Khan, but that is obviously not his best course of action. He is a speed merchant who relies on speed, guts, and smarts to beat his opponents, most of whom are stronger than Malignaggi. Some do not like his hot-dogging style, but let’s give credit where it’s due. Malignaggi is a throwback to the era when guys would outthink their foes, relying less on physical strength, but more on craft, balls, and cunning. He is a unique and special fighter. He was out of his depth against Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton, but in all his other fights, he has been able to do what he wanted to do. While close, I thought he deserved the decision in the first Juan Diaz fight. He fought gallantly against the large favorite, only to suffer from a B.S. decision in Diaz’ home state. In the rematch, he was vintage Malignaggi—schooling his opponent with speed and skills, while letting him know about it with his constant taunting.

Scotty L's Pick to Win: At the end of the day, you have a prodigiously gifted fighter (Khan) fighting a fellow speedster with far less power who is not able to exploit his only weakness. That doesn’t bode well for Malignaggi, but it is still not a hopeless case for him. I think Paulie has a higher ring IQ and should benefit from fighting at home. I think he will be pumped up and give Khan a good fight. Paulie was even able to rattle the ultra-durable Juan Diaz. Who knows? If he lands a series of hard shots on Khan, can he actually hurt him?

I predict Khan will be able to match Malignaggi in terms of speed. He’s a little longer than Paulie, and should be able to keep this fight at a range where he will feel more comfortable. Paulie might have more skills, but Khan has more talent. He can also hit like a ton of bricks when he unloads, something his last opponent, undefeated Dmitri Salita can attest to, after getting poleaxed in one round.

I think Khan will win a decision. Lay the –500 on Khan, and –150 on the “over.”

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