The Adrien "The Problem" Broner (26-0, 22 KO) vs. Paulie "The Magic Man" Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KO) fight is about pride, trash talk, legitimacy, the future and—oh yeah—the WBA welterweight championship.
The Magic Man will put his belt on the line against the controversial—but talented—Broner on Saturday night in Malignaggi's hometown of Brooklyn at the Barclays Center.
This bout is for the championship, but it wouldn't be quite as compelling were it not for Broner's talent and his big mouth. The Problem's persona is rude, obnoxious and crude and has been on full display during the pre-fight hype.
Malignaggi is used to being the most flamboyant presence in a fight, but nobody trumps Broner in that department. Though both men have WWE-like mic skills, this fight will be more than just a showcase of colorful personalities.
Malignaggi could give the undefeated Broner his toughest in-ring test to date.
There will be much to see on Saturday night. Many in the boxing world will be talking about this fight—for one reason or another—on Sunday morning. Here's how you can watch the bout, as well as a deeper look into the buildup and the in-ring matchup.
The Tale of the Tape
Highlights of the Hype
To say things have gotten heated during the pre-fight hype is an understatement. The trash talk has centered around everything from what Malignaggi calls Broner's suspect resume to the Magic Man's ex-girlfriend.
Take a look at the hype trailer:
Broner seems to have little respect for Malignaggi as a fighter. During a recent pre-fight interview with Golden Boy Promotions that was published by Boricua Boxing News, Broner shared a few of this thoughts.
"He's bringing pillows to a fight that I'm throwing bricks so you should see a lot of blood, a lot of bruising before the referee stops the fight."
Perhaps the most outrageous moment of the fight buildup came when Broner told a story about Malignaggi hitting his ex-girlfriend at the pre-fight press conference. The mind games were already in full effect as Broner was sporting a t-shirt that read "Hey Paulette," a feminizing play on Malignaggi's first name.
The story was a joke, or at least exaggerated for effect. It was clearly a shot at Malignaggi's modest punching power. But the barb went to the next level when Broner seemed to call the young lady on speakerphone while at the podium.
Take a look at the video:
The verbal darts haven't all come from Broner's mouth. Malignaggi is usually a little more cool and collected, but Broner has seemingly gotten to him. The Magic Man laced Broner with this profane tirade in an interview on the AK and Hitch Show, via BoxingScene.com:
Adrien Broner is an ugly ninja turtle looking dude. I'm fly and looking crispy. I'm going to World Star you on that canvas and then I'm going to [expletive] on you. Don't let me drop you because I will lift up my skirt and [expletive] on you. I promise you.
That's pretty nasty, literally and figuratively speaking, but I'd be lying if I said it hasn't made the fight that much more coercing.
The Book on Malignaggi
More Than a Gatekeeper?
Even though Malignaggi is the WBA champion, and he's far more experienced than Broner, he has the look of a gatekeeper. For those that are unaware of the definition of the term in this instance, it's a fighter who serves as the measuring stick for an up-and-coming contender looking to join the ranks of the elite.
Malignaggi is not elite, but all four of his losses have come against top-level opposition. He dropped decisions to Miguel Cotto and Juan Diaz and he was stopped by Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton. The latter two losses were called to an end by the referee or corner men.
Malignaggi wanted to continue in both instances.
In this fight, he wants to prove he is deserving of the title he holds. Naturally he doesn't want to be a stepping stone for Broner, but that desire has to have reached a new level amidst the very personal trash talk leading up to the fight.
In the Ring vs. Broner
Malignaggi is a slick boxer and solid athlete. He's very smart and cunning, but his biggest problem is certainly his lack of power.
With only seven knockouts to his credit in 36 fights, his 19.4 KO percentage is one of the lowest you'll ever see. When you compare it to Broner's 84-percent KO rate, it looks even more flimsy.
Though Malignaggi does have good speed, Broner will probably be as quick—if not quicker—in the ring.
His only chance against The Problem is to attempt to tie up the challenger on the inside and to slip and counter him from a distance. Malignaggi has a great chin and Broner isn't usually a fast starter, so being caught with one titanic shot early seems unlikely.
However, the middle and later rounds could be problematic. Malignaggi will have to conserve energy and pick his spots because Broner can be a bruising combination puncher once he finds his rhythm.
The Magic Man will need an ingenious game plan to pull off this win.
The Book on Broner
Writing Checks with His Mouth, Cashing Them with His Fists
Some fans may hate Broner and his bravado, but the 23-year-old also has his share of admirers. The Problem has 96,000-plus followers on Twitter and 81,000-plus on Instagram. No matter how you feel about his personality, if you're well schooled on the sport, it is impossible to deny his talent.
This dynamic has him fast becoming one of the most polarizing athletes in sports today.
If a sub-par athlete behaves obnoxiously, no one really cares. He or she doesn't have the talent to be relevant to the public. But when a truly talented fighter like Broner is brash and cocky, it really draws the ire of those that hate the uber-confident persona.
Those that aren't fans would love to dismiss him, but they can't because he's really good.
The more Broner wins, the more his critics will hate him and yearn to see him lose; but that's all just part of the marketing plan. Love him or hate him, you'll still be watching. As long as you're watching, Broner is still getting paid.
In the Ring vs. Malignaggi
Because Broner doesn't have to fear Malignaggi's power, he may come out more aggressive than normal. Patience will be the key against the champion's experience and toughness, though.
Broner needs to set up his opponent with body shots and work to cut off the ring. He's smart enough not to expend an excessive amount of energy going for the KO early.
Banging the body and cutting off the ring should allow his physical gifts to become a major factor in the fight. If he fights intelligently it is hard to imagine a scenario where he loses.
The simulation was done with PISD's Title Bout Championship Boxing. The fight settings were set for WBA rules, both fighters were set at peak conditioning and their training strategies were handled by the CPU.
Broner was the winner by 11th-round KO.
He was comfortably ahead on all three cyber scorecards and he dropped Malignaggi two times during the fight.
According to the punch stats, the punches landed were similar for both fighters but Broner had a 174-121 edge in power shots.
Malignaggi is no pushover. His skill, experience and toughness will make Broner work. He may actually create the first noticeable blemish on Broner's face with his jab. But ultimately, the power difference and speed will be too much for Malignaggi.
I predict an eighth-round TKO win for The Problem.
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