At 31 years old Paulie Malignaggi is part gatekeeper and part prizefighter looking for one more shot at a big payday. He's had a distinguished career that features a 31-4 record. None of his losses have come to bums. There's no shame in losing to Miguel Cotto, Juan Diaz, Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton—at 140 pounds.
In his last fight, he picked up the WBA Welterweight title by stopping Vyacheslav Senchenko in the ninth round via cut. It was only Malignaggi's seventh win by way of stoppage.
If you've ever seen the Magic Man in the ring, you know what to expect from him. He's a solid defensive fighter with fast hands but little to no punching power. He's looking to outbox every opponent, and Saturday night he'll be facing Pablo Cesar Cano in Malignaggi's hometown of Brooklyn, New York.
In this day and age of the sport, just being a champion doesn't guarantee glory. Winning a major fight in front of his hometown fans would certainly add some legitimacy to Malignaggi's early 30s push.
Cano is a 23-year-old up-and-coming fighter with no shortage of power. He's 25-1 with 19 KOs in his young career. This is only his second fight outside of Mexico, and the last time he was in the United States, things didn't go well.
He was forced to retire after the 10th round of his bout against Erik Morales in September of 2011. He had a bad cut on his left eye, and both eyes were badly swollen. It was a lesson for the young fighter who has since won three fights in a row.
Here's some deeper analysis and the information needed to catch this intriguing bout:
When: Saturday, October 20, 9 p.m. ET
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
Live Stream: Showtime Anytime (Pay Service)
The Book on Malignaggi
Malignaggi has the speed advantage over most of his opponents. When he's right, he has excellent spatial awareness, and he uses it to keep range with his jab and to slip punches.
He generally keeps his hands low, and he depends on his instincts and reflexes to avoid his opponent's assault. He can generally pick slow-handed fighters with long, methodical jabs apart. That is essentially what he did in his fight with Senchenko. Take a look at the highlights here:
Despite not packing his own punch, Malignaggi has a solid chin. He's taken some shots from proven punchers like Khan, Hatton and Cotto without being knocked out. Both times Malignaggi has been stopped, he has still been coherent. The stoppages were just because he had no chance to win those fights, but he hasn't been separated from consciousness.
Cano does have solid power. Malignaggi's challenge in this fight will be to keep his distance, use his speed and to fight his own fight.
He can't get caught up in trying to impress the hometown crowd by trading. Doing so would only open the door for Cano.
The Book on Cano
Cano likes to bang. He's tough, he can take a punch as well as he can deliver one. He's a solid counter-puncher, and he's dangerous in exchanges. He doesn't have exceptionally quick hands or feet, but he's a fundamentally sound puncher.
Like many brawlers, he has some gaping holes in his defense. These holes are augmented by his tendency to cut. You can see all of the aforementioned traits in his most recent fight with Johan Perez shown below. The fight was a victory by way of technical decision because of an accidental headbutt.
Cano suffered a cut from the headbutt, but he was bleeding before that happened. It appears to be a fairly common occurrence with him, as that also spelled the end of his fight with Morales.
He must be patient in this fight and try to take advantage of careless mistakes in Malignaggi's defense to have a chance. He needs to go for the stoppage, as I can't see him outpointing Malignaggi without at least a knockdown or two.
Malignaggi should win an easy decision over Cano. He's too fast and too slick for the young Mexican fighter. He has the chin to absorb a mistake, and Cano's propensity to cut aligns perfectly with Malignaggi's swiping punches.
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