For those in the Chicago area (or just ready to travel to the Windy City near the holidays, which I do recommend) interested in the December 12 rematch between Juan Diaz and Paulie Malignaggi at the UIC Pavilion, tickets are on sale today. They can be purchased from 8 Count Productions, Ticketmaster, and UICPavilion.com.
You know, on a fight-related note, I think one of the things so interesting about this rematch and so intriguing about the first fight is that I felt both guys were on their game. Usually when I preview a fight or start trying to make a pick, I'll think about the advantages each guy has, if any, and then try to figure out who has the best shot at executing his gameplan. Pretty simple stuff, really. Boxing itself is an art, but talking about it really isn't.
I remember I thought to myself, "If Paulie can box from the outside, he's got a shot." And then I thought, "If Diaz can get his pressure up, he should really win." Generally one guy gets it all going and the other guy does not. I picked Diaz by decision and was quite confident in that. I wound up scoring it for Paulie, who boxed really well from the outside, and Diaz to his credit put pressure on really well. It made for a really compelling style matchup. It was the best Malignaggi had looked since the first win over Lovemore N'dou. He got himself back in the game, even with the official loss.
Paulie's had some Jekyll and Hyde-style performance issues in recent years. After the Cotto loss in 2006, he was sensational against Edner Cherry and N'dou, then struggled mightily with Herman Ngoudjo and the N'dou rematch. He was routed by Ricky Hatton, then came out and gave Juan Diaz a hell of a fight. I'm not sure how I see the rematch with Diaz going just yet, but if it's like the first fight, it should be good.
The other thing I wanted to say: For those hoping that Paulie knocks Diaz out, well, keep hoping. I know not everyone follows that close, but Paulie hasn't stopped anybody since 2003.