Amir Khan knockout Malignaggi
The remarkable turnaround in Amir Khan's career has been nothing short of a boxing miracle, although delving beneath the seemingly meteoric rise from 54 second obliteration against Breidis Prescott to world champion in the space of ten months shows a carefully orchestrated, well managed career-path featuring opponents with questionably enhanced records, faded legends, and non-punchers.
Amir Khan vs. Paul Malignaggi. WBA light welterweight title.
Saturday May 15, Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, United States.
Khan 1/6, Malignaggi 7/2.
The latter point won't change when Khan faces Paulie Malignaggi, but the Brooklyn born and raised 'Magic Man' is a seriously tough competitor coming off one of the best wins of his career, a former world champion and a fast, flash boxer. A bit more dig and I think he'd be a standout fighter, but only five stoppage wins from his 27 victories shows why someone with a chin as questionable as Khan's shouldn't have too much to fear.
Khan's weakness between neck and nose is arguably his only problem. Lightning fast, big for the weight, confident and with power in both hands, Khan almost has it all. In his corner he has one of the best trainers in the world, and Freddie Roach can take a lot of credit for getting the Bolton man to adopt a more measured, hands-up style whilst retaining the speed that dealt with Dmitry Salita last December in double-quick fashion.
However, this fight represents a change in the direction of Khan's career, and it's worthwhile looking at the big two differences that have taken place in Khan's professional life before making the case for how he will fare against Malignaggi.
Firstly, Khan is no longer promoted by Frank Warren. Britain's foremost boxing promoter took control of Khan's career from his very first professional outing, and despite a catastrophic loss guided his charge to a world title after only 21 fights - a great feat in itself, an amazing one considering Khan looked to have been brutally exposed by Prescott. Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions now handle Khan's career, and that inevitably has brought the second 'first' that Khan will undertake - a fight outside his home country.
With his trainer based in the United States, as well as his promotional team, Khan may very well be boxing in America for the foreseeable future, and his first port of call just so happens to be his opponent's back yard. However, Khan has unquestionable big-stage pedigree, having fought in arenas and stadiums since his debut back in 2005. Fighting at Madison Square Garden won't faze him at all, and the attendance won't actually be that high, as the fight will take place in the smaller theatre section of the famous New York venue as opposed to the 20,000 capacity main arena.
Therefore, there is enough going on behind the scenes of this fight to suggest Khan will want to make a statement to impress both a new promoter and a new audience. I think that Malignaggi, in truth, is an inferior to Khan with a better chin and a weaker punch.
Speed is his weapon of choice, but Khan is that bit quicker and that's enough to make all the difference. Expect Khan to come out looking razor sharp and tagging Malignaggi time and again in the early stages.
Although his impressive chin has held up to some big punchers, Malignaggi has never faced anyone who will throw as much leather at him as Khan will, and it's just possible that he'll be feeling a little disheartened after the fight passes the halfway stage; Malignaggi's lack of power doesn't really offer him the opportunity for a last ditch stoppage.
I think that although Khan doesn't have the one-punch effect that can be found in the likes of Ricky Hatton, he will get a stoppage win against a durable but ultimately outgunned opponent somewhere around the ninth or tenth. I think there is value in a Khan stoppage at 7/4, and that would be my recommendation.