By Kirk Jackson
December 7th, the “Magic Man” Paulie Malignaggi 32-5 (7 KO’s) will engage in a welterweight showdown with fellow Brooklynite Zab “Super” Judah 42-8 (29 KO’s) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
This should be a closely contested fight throughout between these veterans who share various similarities and who are known throughout the sport not only for their fistic talents, but for their extravagant and occasional provocative personalities.
Experience will not play much of a factor here, both fighters have been in against the best opposition the sport has to offer. They actually share two common opponents, Miguel Cotto and Amir Khan.
Judah has the edge in regards to the level of opposition he has shared the ring with, facing the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Joshua Clottey, Kostya Tszyu, DeMarcus Corley, Carlos Baldomir and Cory Spinks.
While Malignaggi has faced Ricky Hatton, Juan Diaz, Lovemore Ndou, Edner Cherry, Herman Ngoudjo and most recently Adrien Broner.
This is a toss-up on paper, but I feel like Malignaggi will win the fight this Saturday.
The main reason is his punch output. Judah has the reputation of fading late in fights, although in his last fight against Garcia in April, Judah was the fighter coming on strong towards the end of the fight.
But in regards to punch output and activity, Judah tends to fight in spurts. Malignaggi’s consistent punch output will pay dividends for the Magic Man.
Malignaggi also has strong left jab. In the past, he’s been known to pop his jab and snap the necks of his opponents back. This is the basis of his offense and working off his jab, Malignaggi can get into a rhythm and let off five, six punch combinations and can circle around the ring as he likes to do.
Because Judah is defensive southpaw styled fighter, it may take a few rounds for Malignaggi to find his groove and I would expect Judah to win some early rounds. Judah is also a good counter-puncher, is still very sharp at his age and does possess some punching power. Malignaggi will definitely have to be cautious, especially early in the fight.
The longer the fight goes, the more he has the advantage. Judah at age 36 is a little older and has more wear and tear on his body coming into this showdown with 50 fights of experience. Malignaggi at age 33, with 37 fights of experience should be the fresher fighter.
He has to remember that Judah does not do well when constantly pressured. Cotto eventually broke him down applying pressure, as did Amir Khan, Floyd Mayweather and so on. Even though Garcia was not overwhelmingly outworking Judah in the early rounds of their fight, he was still walking him down and applying mental pressure.
In order for Malignaggi to work his magic against Judah, he will have to initiate the action and be the first to strike in order to set up his offense and defense.
His left jab will be the most important punch, it is the basis for what he wants to do offensively and defensively because he can use that punch to set up combinations, he can feint with that punch and throw a left hook off it, he can use the jab as a defensive tool, use the jab as a range finder and he can use the jab keep Judah off his rhythm and disrupt his timing.
Another key factor for Malignaggi is conditioning. He is going to have to be on the move. Jab, jab and move. Jab, throw a four or five punch combination and move. And throwing punches in bunches is also important for the interruption of Judah’s counter-punching. If he stands in front of Judah and exchanges punches, it does not bode well for Malignaggi and he cannot allow Judah to get into a rhythm.
Another key tool for Malignaggi will be the lost art of clinching. Bernard Hopkins will be probably be ringside serving as a guest commentator in place of Paulie for this Showtime telecast and he can take notes from the living legend on the art of clinching.
Paulie does not have to clinch the entire fight; it would be a stinker if he did. But after letting off a combination, he can clinch if he can’t evade the incoming danger cleanly. Whenever he needs a breather, he can clinch a little bit.
This should be an exciting fight, on a great card that also features Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara, Shawn Porter, Devon Alexander, Sakio Bika and Anthony Dirrell. The Barclay center in Brooklyn appears to be the hotbed of boxing as of now, recently hosting many significant fights that have happened to air on Showtime.
The pride of Brooklyn will be on display and it should be a great night. Expect Malignaggi to earn a unanimous decision in a closely contested fight that will leave both men exhausted, with one fighter looking at potential options for his fighting future and with the other fighter potentially eying retirement.