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Michael Taylor 8th Dec 2009 - 16:50

Diaz v Malignaggi to go the distance again

A rematch of a fight that took place less than four months ago, which resulted in a fairly wide unanimous decision victory for Diaz, who was 1/7 to win. So why you may ask is he suddenly such a narrow favourite?

Juan Diaz vs. Paulie Malignaggi. Light welterweight bout.
Saturday December 12, UIC Pavilion, Chicago, United States.

Well, a whole host of reasons actually, not least judge Gale Van Hoy's ridiculous card which had Diaz a 118-110 winner in a fight most observers thought he lost.

Malignaggi and his team were furious with the hometown verdict in favour of the Houston native, and kicked up a big enough fuss to secure an immediate rematch at a neutral venue, with a different referee, three different judges, and hopefully for them, a different result.

There was also a feeling that Malignaggi was underestimated by Diaz, having only lost to the world class Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton.

Personally I had Malignaggi winning the previous fight by a few rounds.

It was a draw at worst for the New Yorker, who's slick box and move style and very light punching (only five stoppages in 26 wins, 3 losses) somewhat hide the fact that he's a very tough fighter.

He's been the distance with Cotto in spite of a broken cheekbone sustained early in the fight, while winning on numerous occasions having cracked bones in his hands during the contest.

His continual trouble with his hands however has all but eliminated any chance he has of stopping anyone with a half-decent chin in the future, with his last stoppage win coming over six years ago, against journeyman Kevin 'Cocky' Watts.

If he wins, it will be on points barring a Diaz injury or a miracle.Diaz has found himself at a career crossroads fight despite having only recently turned 26.

Two years ago he was a genuine undefeated superstar in the making, having battered the excellent Brazilian Acelino Freitas into retirement and followed it up with a win over namesake Julio Diaz, winning himself the IBF and WBO versions of the lightweight world title in the process to add to his own WBA crown.

What followed was a surprise split decision loss to Nate Campbell, soon followed by another defeat, this time against Mexican great Juan Manuel Marquez in a brutal affair which saw Diaz ahead in the early rounds, only to be pegged back as the fight wore on.

Diaz was hurt in the eighth and annihilated in the ninth, when a poisonous uppercut dropped him flat on his back; no count required.

The below-par performance against Malignaggi has had the doubters out in force, with the savage Marquez loss being cited as the day when something was taken away from Diaz for good.

I don't actually believe that to be the case.

I think the performance against Malignaggi was down to a genuine oversight by Diaz as to the quality of his opponent, something that will not be the case this time round now that he knows exactly what Paulie is capable of.

Against an opponent who hits as lightly as Malignaggi, I can see Diaz brushing off an early onslaught before finding his rhythm and picking off the rounds fairly steadily.

I'd be surprised if either fighter hit the deck, and it may indeed be a tricky fight to call with a draw a possibility. However, I have a feeling the scorecards will be around the 116-112 mark in favour of Diaz, as two of them were last time.

Only on this occasion, such a verdict will be justified.

Diaz 8/11, Malignaggi EVS.




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