Amir Khan vs. Paulie Malignaggi Preview & Picks

Amir Khan and Paulie Malignaggi headline an HBO twinbill this Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. In a night featuring the top light welterweights, Khan-Malignaggi will be accompanied by Victor Ortiz vs. Nate Campbell. The HBO doubleheader begins at 9:45pm ET.

Amir Khan vs. Paulie Malignaggi
WBA Light Welterweight Title
Money Line: Khan -500; Malignaggi +350

Amir Khan, 22-1 (16 KOs), is hoping to make the best of his United States debut. Khan, a native of the United Kingdom, captured a Silver Medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. This will be the first fight away from Khan’s home turf as he tries to establish himself atop the crowded 140-pound division. At 23 years of age, Khan is quickly becoming a complete fighter. He has speed, power, and a natural boxing gift. He also added trainer extraordinaire Freddie Roach to his team in 2008. The only kink in his armor so far would be a suspect chin. Khan was knocked out in his only loss, a 2008 bout against Breidis Prescott that took less than a minute. Khan made the move to Roach after the loss and has won his last four fights. If Amir Khan wants to make a good first impression in the United States, he ought to steer clear of a powerful puncher.

Enter Paulie Malignaggi, 27-3 (5 KOs). Malignaggi is not a power puncher. His last stoppage victory was in 2003. But what Paulie lacks in power, he makes up for in quickness. Malignaggi was on the verge of becoming a light welterweight afterthought when he was robbed of a decision over Juan Diaz in August of 2009 in Diaz’ hometown of Houston. Malignaggi was granted a rematch and got his career back on track with a win later that year. Amir Khan is a young, out-spoken, cocky up-and-comer, much like Malignaggi was five years ago. Now more battle-weary, Malignaggi is relishing the opportunity to shut the new kid up. A war of words has already been waged between the two, a fight that Malignaggi would win hands down. But Malignaggi needs to be focused and precise inside the ring this Saturday to have any shot at spoiling King Khan’s debut in New York.

Staff Predictions

Corey: I’m not sold on Khan by any means yet. In his last outing, he had Salita finished off before any real assessment could be made. Prior to that, he won the WBA title against Kotelnik but had a lot of problems landing anything clean on an opponent who simply kept his guard tight. Malignaggi is a much more difficult target to hit. He slips punches well, and when he does get hit, has shown a tough chin. At the same time, he doesn’t pose much of a threat to Khan’s less than stellar chin, which is the reason he has landed this gig. In a nip and tuck affair, Khan’s flashy punching will prove just enough to get him past Malignaggi with a close decision, 115-113.

Paul: I don’t give Paulie much of a chance in this one and I honestly can’t envision a scenario where he can win. If Paulie fights on the outside, Khan’s foot speed and athleticism will be too much. If Paulie tries to crack Khan’s chin, Khan’s hand speed and physical strength will batter him. Plus, Paulie hasn’t looked good against a legit junior welterweight since his first bout with N’dou back in 2007 (and, no, I don’t consider a pudgy lightweight Juan Diaz, post-Campbell and Marquez, as a legit 140-pounder). Nothing short of a complete emotional breakdown from Khan will stop him from taking the win. My prediction is Khan via TKO in 7 brutally one-sided rounds.

Trent: Amir Khan may be biting off more than he can chew by taking Paulie Malignaggi in his United States debut. I’ve counted Malignaggi out before and I’m not so quick to do it again this time around. Paulie won’t knock Khan out but he can certainly hurt him. Malignaggi seems to fight better when he’s highly motivated and Khan has done a good job of getting under the skin of Malignaggi. Khan will have more than one round of work ahead of him, and I think Khan will be as equally motivated as Malignaggi. Khan has the speed and reach to counter Paulie, something Juan Diaz was lacking. Plus, Freddie Roach will not allow his man to get too far behind in the fight if Paulie brings his A-game. I expect Malignaggi to hold his own but in the end he will not have anything to complain about. Khan will take the decision 117-111.

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