AGE AND PHYSICAL EQUIPMENT
As the betting odds suggest, Adrien Broner, 23, has the advantage in both age and physical capabilities. Being nine years younger than Paul Malignaggi and having fought more recently, Broner comes into this bout the fresher fighter. At the age of 32, Malignaggi’s speed has naturally deteriorated somewhat, although his finest weapon, the jab, is still an effective one, as shown in his stoppage victory over Vyacheslav Senchenko last year. While Malignaggi’s speed is impressive, Broner’s is exceptional. So too is his punching power and although he’s moved up two weight classes for this fight, he’ll likely carry these advantages up with him. With only seven stoppage wins to his name, Malignaggi does not hold the power to trouble Broner. Despite being slightly shorter by an inch-and-a-half, Broner has the advantage in reach, which could give Malignaggi nightmares on the night depending how ‘The Problem’ chooses to fight.
QUALITY OF OPPOSITION
While Malignaggi has lost valiantly to elite fighters, Broner has crushed overmatched opposition. ‘The Magic Man’ clearly has the advantage in experience, even if that experience has brought him four losses. In 2006, two years before Broner had turned professional, Malignaggi faced an undefeated Miguel Cotto. Despite being dropped and cut badly, Malignaggi heard the final bell and gave a good account of himself before losing a unanimous decision. His other three losses came to Ricky Hatton, Juan Diaz and Amir Khan. Career-defining victories over Lovemore N’Dou and Vyacheslav Senchenko, who was an undefeated champion when they met, have kept Malignaggi in the world title mix and armed him with a wealth of experience ahead of Saturday night. Broner, on the other hand, has been criticised for not facing top-draw opponents, given his obvious talent and outspoken manner. In 2011 he struggled over 10 rounds against tough Mexican Daniel Ponce De Leon and picked up a disputed unanimous decision. Since then, his most noteworthy fight came in November 2012 when he stopped the number one-ranked lightweight in the world at the time, Antonio DeMarco, in eight rounds. Victories over the likes of Jason Litzau and Gavin Rees have provided Broner with a platform to showcase his impressive skills, but have taught him little.
Malignaggi’s technical boxing skill is punctuated by his hand and foot speed, allowing him to move in and out of range well and keep his opponent at distance with his laser-like jab. In defeat, Malignaggi has shown he also has a lot of heart and can get up from the canvas and still give it his all. The 32-year-old is also an intelligent fighter who will come into this fight with a plan and, despite his setbacks, is supremely confident in his ability. Broner’s fighting style emulates that of Floyd Mayweather and what Broner may lack somewhat in defence, he makes up for with power and aggression. With 22 of his 26 victories coming by way of knockout, the man from Cincinnati carries power in both hands. His hand and foot speed also outmatches that of Malignaggi, having started his career as a super-featherweight before moving to lightweight and eventually jumping to welterweight his experience has been against lighter, quicker opponents.
Malignaggi’s glaring weakness is his lack of power. He relies on his skill and speed to see him through fights but in his last fight, his victory over Senchenko, he proved he can use his skill and speed to force a stoppage if possible. However Senchenko was there to be hit, whereas Broner will not be. Although Broner’s defence is a tight one, utilising the shoulder-roll, his cockiness sometimes leaves him open in the earlier rounds and as he did against Gavin Rees, he sometimes ships some unnecessary punishment. Although Malignaggi will likely not trouble him with power, Broner may find rounds slipping away from him if he leaves himself too open too often.
WHY MALIGNAGGI CAN WIN
As Amir Khan put it, “Paulie is a great boxer, very slippery and can make you look average.” Malignaggi is capable of eluding punches all night and if he is able to keep Broner at a distance with his jab and avoid his heavy shots, he can push Broner the distance and win the fight on points. Malignaggi is also fighting in his hometown and will likely be the hero to Broner’s villain, and he can use the momentum of the crowd to see him through the tougher moments of this fight. He has also fought at welterweight for the past few years and so will arguably be more comfortable at the weight.
WHY BRONER CAN WIN
Broner is new to the weight and fighting in Malignaggi’s backyard, but his confidence will still be sky-high. He can match Malignaggi for speed and will look to pin his opponent down and force exchanges. Broner will not need to worry about Malignaggi’s power and so can be more focused on his offence, and would be smart to go to the body early on so as to slow Malignaggi’s movement and set himself up for a stoppage victory late on.
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