Juan Diaz returns home to Houston, Texas this Saturday to take on Paulie Malignaggi in the main event of HBO’s Boxing After Dark tripleheader. Malcom Klassen and Robert Guerrero clash on the undercard in a super featherweight title bout and Daniel Jacobs takes on Ishe Smith in the event’s opener. The action begins at 9:45 pm ET on HBO.
Juan Diaz vs. Paulie Malignaggi
Money Line: Diaz -500; Malignaggi +300
Juan Diaz is experienced beyond his years. He became a world champion at 135 lbs when he was 20 years old. He’s been in the ring with some of the best lightweights in the world including Acelino Freitas, Nate Campbell, and Juan Manuel Maruez. Now 25 years old, Juan Diaz takes his crowd-pleasing style to the light welterweight division. And for the third fight in a row, Diaz will be fighting in front of his hometown Houston fans. What Diaz lacks in terms of momentum, he’s lost two of his last three fights, he makes up for with his wealth of experience. Malignaggi can’t bring anything to the table that Diaz hasn’t seen before. Diaz needs to make an announcement to all the other fighters at 140 lbs that he has arrived on the scene. A win over Malignaggi would provide for an emphatic statement.
Paulie Malignaggi worked his way up the light welterweight ladder by using his hand and foot speed to his advantage. Now at the world-class level, Malignaggi’s speed is no longer an overwhelming advantage. He needs to rely on something else. Malignaggi lacks pop, he has only 5 knockouts in his 26 professional wins. He needs something else to carry him back to a world title, and a win over Juan Diaz would put him on the fast track to a title shot. Defeating Juan Diaz in his hometown will be difficult. Especially when you take into consideration that Malignaggi probably needs to knock him out. Just ask Chris John about trying to get a decision over a Houston fighter. Malignaggi needs to turn in a stellar performance to stay in the thick of things at the light welterweight level.
Corey: Malignaggi has been in with two really elite pressure fighters in the past, Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton, and they both were eventually able to bully and outmuscle him. While Diaz, a career lightweight, is the smaller man in this instance, he’s a very good pressure fighter. Both guys need a win bad in order to stay relevant, and even though Malignaggi may want this one more (Diaz has long been considering attending law school), the Diaz that showed up against Juan Manuel Marquez in February wins this fight. With that said, Diaz was stopped for the first time in that fight with Marquez and really beaten up, and you never know how that affects a fighter until his next fight. The good news for Diaz is Malignaggi lacks the punching power to beat him up. So I see Diaz winning a one-sided fight on the cards, 117-111 or wider.
Trent: Diaz has more home games in Houston than the Astros. Simply put, Malignaggi can’t win a decision in the hometown of Juan Diaz. So Paulie needs the knockout, something he’s not accustomed to do. Juan is a pressure fighter and that will likely win him most, in not all, of the rounds. Malignaggi certainly realizes the magnitude of this fight but even he must think he’s behind the 8-ball before the opening bell even rings. Nothing against Malignaggi as a fighter here, but I’m picking the blowout. First time ever. I’m predicting Juan Diaz by extremely unanimous decision, 120-108.