Paulie Malignaggi has hometown advantage in Brooklyn when he faces Pablo Cesar Cano tomorrow night on Showtime. Can the young Mexican battler pull the big upset, or will Paulie's newly-energized career march on?
Cano will be game from start to finish but will ultimately get out pointed because he's too slow and predictable. Cano may still land the best shots of the fight, but he won't be landing enough of them. That said Cano's defense is probably just as good as Malignaggi's on a fundamental level, but Malignaggi will use his legs to get in and out of harm's way while Cano will more or less have his feet stuck in the mud. If Cano does pull off the upset it will be because he broke Malignaggi down with body shots and got to tee off while Malignaggi was against the ropes. Malignaggi UD-12.
Hopefully we see "whip-ass Senchenko fight" version of Malignaggi in there. That dude was awesome. But more likely we see quick, very busy Malignaggi against a slower but still decent opponent. I'm not that high on Cano, not entirely because of the Morales fight, but just in general. I think he's good enough to keep the fight reasonably close, but Malignaggi just outworks him over 12.
Cano is a tough young fighter, but he's below this level, and I expect Paulie to put on a decent show in his hometown, too. I do think Cano will have moments and there will be some good exchanges, but Malignaggi is too experienced, too smart to lose this fight -- he's also too tough. I don't think Cano can stop Paulie, so what can Cano do here? Out-point a better boxer in his actual hometown? In the words of Gorilla Monsoon, "Highly...unlikely." I wouldn't be surprised to see Paulie use his jab and slicing right hand to cut up Cano and get a stoppage, either. Malignaggi UD-12, but a late stoppage entirely possible.
After an insightful performance from ringside on the last big Showtime, it's only a shame that Malignaggi won't be there to do the same again on Saturday. What I do expect, though, is a strong performance from the hometown fighter, who's a natural showman and who will absolutely relish - and make the most of - being in front of local support.
Cano is fun to watch, but I think at this stage it's a big ask to fight on the road, at a new weight, and against a quick, awkward technician as polished as we know Malignaggi can be. Malignaggi could cruise to victory here, banking the rounds and frustrating an aggressive, come-forward Cano, but I have a feeling he'll want to do more, and he showed an altogether different side to his work against Senchenko, which is possibly the best I've ever seen him. Malignaggi by UD, but a late stoppage around 10 would be no surprise.
Paul Malignaggi is clearly the superior boxer and has shined in the past against the type of fighter he will be facing in Pablo Cano, a straightforward puncher without a lot of wrinkles to his game. But Cano's gutsy performance on short-notice against Erik Morales last year made a fan out of me. Rationalizing that an older Malignaggi might not be able to sustain the pace against a younger, aggressive guy, I was fully prepared to go all-heart and pick Cano in the upset.....until Cano inexplicably missed weight, a weight seven pounds higher than the division he had previously been active in. To me, that's a sign of something....I don't know what, but it's not good. Malignaggi by one-sided unanimous decision.
I think this is going to be the best fight of the night. Like other guys who rely on movement and reflexes but lost a step Paulie had been forced to plant his feet and exchange in recent fights. With decent hand speed still he has been successful even getting a few stoppage wins. Cano I know only from his bloody brawl with Morales, but as often happens when a fighter fights on despite his face being shredded by his opponent, he won me over as a fan that night. What struck me was how few fights he had had at that point, and I think in time his baptism by fire early career will mold him into a champion. All weight issues aside I expect Cano to just be stronger later in the fight than Malignaggi and eek out a decision with some dominant late rounds. Cano by decision.
I think this could turn out to be a very good fight. Malignaggi has a massive experience edge here, but I think many of us would like to have youth on our side just the same. Basically, this one comes down to the boxing ability and experience of Malignaggi against the youth and strength of Cano. I know I will definitely be going against the grain with this one, but I will take Cano. His record is built on more cream puffs than Hasim Rahman's butt, but I feel that he is a decent pug. I also get the sense that Paulie is going to start clearly slipping at some point, and it may well be here. He also has the added pressure of fighting in his hometown. Cano by decision.
I'm somewhat perplexed by this match-up. If someone can tell me how an average fighter who has never fought at welterweight before can get a world title shot then please feel free to do so.
To be fair to Cano, he is a young fighter and has shown signs of improvement over the past two years. He performed okay against Erik Morales in another undeserved title shot but didn't strike me as someone who could go onto bigger things. Malignaggi looks to be in great form at the minute and it's hard to see Cano pulling off a shock win here. Malignaggi should be too experienced, skilful and strong for Cano to cope with. I'd say it's more likely to be a points win for Malignaggi but I wouldn't rule out a late stoppage.
Final Tally: Paulie Malignaggi 6, Pablo Cesar Cano 2.