Paulie "The Magic Man" Malignaggi shouldn't beat Adrien "The Problem" Broner on June 22, but he is the type of fighter that a rising star like Broner needs to face on his way up the ladder.
Malignaggi will attempt to hand Broner the first loss of his career. At 23 years old, Broner has compiled a record of 26-0 with 22 KO victories, but the only recognizable names on his resume are Daniel Ponce De Leon, Vicente Escobedo and Antonio DeMarco.
Those three are solid fighters, and Ponce De Leon gave Broner some problems (no pun intended), but the young man from Cincinnati is still largely untested.
The 32-year-old Malignaggi is 32-4 and he's the current WBA welterweight champion. This is his second run as a world champion in his career. He held the IBF light welterweight crown in 2007-08. Malignaggi is experienced in the ring and he's been in big fights.
He's faced the likes of Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan and Miguel Cotto. While Broner's antics, personality and skill make every fight he's in a show, Malignaggi has faced fighters whose names alone made their encounter significant.
Malignaggi is likely the smartest fighter Broner will have faced as well. The former is a student of the sport and his understanding of tactics shine through in his excellent color commentary for Showtime Boxing.
The Magic Man and his camp will undoubtedly have a game plan they believe in for this bout.
While Broner may be tested and made to think in ways he has yet to as a professional, it will be very difficult for Malignaggi to overcome the physical mismatch.
The Magic Man has only stopped seven opponents in his career. His inability to make Broner respect his power will be his biggest challenge in the fight. Athletically, Broner is at least on par with Malignaggi, if not superior.
Though Broner is coming up in weight, his frame can easily hold 147 pounds. He'll be as strong—if not stronger—than he's ever been. His speed should remain intact as well.
That said, Malignaggi's experience and guile will be a factor. Despite his low KO total, Malignaggi has a solid chin and heart. He's only been stopped twice in his career. Both times, the decision to continue was taken out of his hands.
His TKO loss to Khan was the decision of the referee, despite Malignaggi pleading to let the fight continue. The other stoppage came at the hands of Hatton when Malignaggi's trainer, Buddy McGirt, threw in the towel.
This won't be an easy win for Broner.
When the fight is over, he will be made better for the experience in the ring with the cerebral—but overmatched—Malignaggi.
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