Paulie "Magic Man" Malignaggi will have his hometown fans behind him on Saturday when he defends his WBA welterweight title against a brash, young challenger in the form of Adrien "The Problem" Broner. Despite Malignaggi's advantage, Broner appears to be the man to beat in this one.
Broner has been installed as a heavy favorite at -1200, according to Bovada, so the betting public expects him to walk away from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. with the title around his waist. Beating Malignaggi won't be as easy as some are making it out to be, but he has the tools to make it happen, provided he follows a few simple keys.
Here are the biggest things that Broner must remain cognizant of to take down Malignaggi on Saturday.
Go for the Knockout
Despite the fact that he is only 23 years of age, Broner has already gained a reputation as one of the most powerful punchers in boxing. The statistics back up that notion, as Broner boasts a 26-0 career record with 22 knockouts. Knocking out Malignaggi is no small feat, but Broner should try to accomplish nonetheless.
Broner has scored six knockout wins in a row, and he intends to make it seven if his comments recorded by BoxingNews24 at Thursday's press conference are any indication:
I’ll be a three-time world champion on Saturday at the age of 23. With that being said, let Paulie talk his little BS. At the end of day, I’m knocking him the (expletive) out. He’s never been knocked out.
Malignaggi has twice lost by way of technical knockout due to stoppages, but he has never been put on the mat and knocked out the hard way. That seems to give Malignaggi confidence, as he scoffed at the hype surrounding Broner's punching power, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.
This @PaulMalignaggi quote amused me: '(Broner's) power is overrated. I could have knocked out 20 garbage men or laundromat workers too.'— Dan Rafael (@danrafaelespn) June 20, 2013
Perhaps Broner's power isn't quite as prolific as some believe it to be, but he's going to be aggressive regardless. Broner has never gone to the scorecards in a 12-round fight, and it doesn't seem like he has any plans to do so on Saturday.
Broner wants to make a statement, and he can do so by knocking out The Magic Man.
Utilize Quickness Advantage
One of Malignaggi's biggest strengths is his quickness, but Broner is in a different league in that regard. It can be argued that Malignaggi has an advantage over Broner since The Problem is moving up in weight for this fight, but Broner doesn't seem worried about that, as per his comments on Thursday:
I went from 120 to 135 pounds. I’m moving up to 147, two weight divisions, and that has not been done. I’m looking to make history and be the first current American three-time champion, so make sure you [Malignaggi] tell the public he is truly a good fighter.
Moving up 12 pounds across two weight classes is difficult, but Broner looked to be in excellent shape at Friday's weigh-in, so the odds are that he won't miss a step. Broner was a quick fighter at 135 lbs, but his quickness will be even more apparent against Malignaggi, who isn't used to fighting natural lightweights.
What is Broner's biggest key to victory?
Even if Broner's quickness is compromised to some degree, it is still an asset that he can pull from his utility belt at any time. Malignaggi will try to slow down the pace and make it a grind-it-out affair in all likelihood, but Broner must use his quickness to ensure that doesn't happen.
Get Under Malignaggi's Skin
One thing that Broner seems to do better than most fighters is talk trash. He hasn't been shy about doing so in recent weeks, and it has bothered Malignaggi to some extent. The Magic Man is no stranger to trash talk, but he has been much louder than usual and even admitted during Thursday's press conference that Broner baited him in:
It’s gotten a little bit crazy, we’ll admit that. I can take some of the blame, but I can’t take all of it. I can only apologize for my end, but at the end of the day, this is how the creation of Adrien Broner happened, in my opinion. They put everything that’s wrong with boxing in one room, did everything that’s wrong with boxing in that room and gave birth to Adrien Broner and you people are eating it up.
If Malignaggi feels that way, then Broner has done his job. Many boxing observers have compared Broner to Floyd Mayweather because of the way he conducts himself prior to a fight. Malignaggi seems to feel that way as well and even told Broner that he should be himself instead, according to Steve Bunce of ESPN.
Malignaggi massacre in NY. He finally showed class, told Floyd impersonator Broner: "Be Adrien Broner, the people might like you." No reply.— Steve Bunce (@bigdaddybunce) June 22, 2013
Perhaps Malignaggi has a point, but he seems too worried about his opponent rather than himself. That is probably by design on Broner's part, and he should continue to get under Malignaggi's skin even during the bout.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter