At the very least, the upcoming fight between Paulie Malignaggi vs. Juan Diaz invites interest among boxing fans. Both are recently coming off significant losses against simply better fighters (of which they shouldn't be ashamed of, especially Diaz), both have two losses, and are looking for redemption. The style matchup here is irresistible: a boxer and a brawler. Both considered light punchers, this doesn't promise to deliver a knockout, but I find it intriguing nonetheless.
These two fighters are still considered young and can still make it to the top. They still hang around as contenders in their respective divisions (lightweight for Diaz and jr. welterweight for Malignaggi). Had they not lost big, they wouldn't be here at this point. But on August 22 in Diaz's hometown of Houston, TX, they will have to translate their meeting at the crossroads into a fight in a ring, where the victor may go further as he leaves the other potentially stuck at a fork in the road.
I say Malignaggi needs this win more than Diaz. Diaz is younger (25), and if he loses against Malignaggi (28) he can still come back down to 135 and stay there, as the top dog, especially now that Juan Manuel Marquez is fighting way above the weight class that he rules. But both Malignaggi and Diaz can use a fight like this to bounce back.
The August 22 tussle will figure to be an entertaining fight between two entertaining fighters. The "Magic Man" is flashy and slick, while the "Baby Bull" just keeps on punching and moving in. As a fan, I am torn between the two, as I like them both as fighters, but as for observation, I am not one of those who believe that Diaz is an overwhelming favorite in this one. Yes, Malignaggi's KO ratio more than speaks for his lack of power, but I think he still has more power than the people who diss him in comment boxes, believing that they themselves can take his punch. For these fans who hate Malignaggi, give him a break. He talks trash, but as Diaz's own trainer/manager Willie Savannah said, "he's respectful." Diaz is no power puncher either, with a not-so-stunning 50% KO rate.
Ricky Hatton may have shown that the way to overturn the Magic Man's tricks, as the Ed. (SC) puts it, is to walk right through him and pressure him, but let's not forget that the "Hitman," with the power that he has, let alone compared to Diaz, wasn't able to knock Malignaggi out. Malignaggi has a pretty solid chin. Plus, Diaz is moving up in weight, demanding a catchweight of 138 1/2 instead of fighting at 140. But still, moving up, don't you think that it may affect his already regular power? Couple that with the above said solid chin of Malignaggi and we take the KO out of the equation. Furthermore, Malignaggi is used to fighting (and punching) bigger guys and Diaz has settled in 135 comfortably for the longest time. How will Diaz respond to the punches of a bigger guy? Albeit a feather-fisted one in Malignaggi? And will Malignaggi look a stronger puncher against a guy moving up in weight? They quibbled about the weight, which shows that maybe both of them has disadvantageous problems on it. Is 138 1/2 a fair compromise? Or will it affect any of them negatively? Then there's the height factor, as Malignaggi has two and a half inches over the 5-foot-6 Diaz.
With that said, Diaz remains the favorite. He is younger, more powerful, and his pressure may remind Malignaggi some Hatton nightmares. This is a majority among fans. If some of them even chose Malignaggi, their picks are either only UD or SD, which could still be a difficult thing to secure as he is fighting in the baby bull's den.
I definitely respect other people's opinions but I hope that I've made some people to rethink their assessment of this one. Now, what does the SB Nation think?
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