Ex-Trainer Billy Graham - "Ricky Definitely Stops Malignaggi"

11.11.08 - by James Slater - Billy "The Preacher" Graham may not be Ricky Hatton's trainer any more, but that doesn't mean he no longer has a genuine interest in Ricky's upcoming fights. Next up for "The Hitman" is "The Magic Man," Paulie Malignaggi, and Graham has been discussing this fight and it's likely outcome with Ring magazine..

Though he has not studied the flashy New Yorker as intensely as he would have done had he still been working with the 30-year-old Hatton, Graham's opinion is still an educated and valid one. "The Preacher" predicts a good night for his former fighter.

"This is a relatively safe fight for Ricky, based on the form of the two fighters," Graham told The Bible of Boxing. "If Ricky is on form, he will take Maliggnagi apart."

And though the former coach concedes the fact that Malignaggi put on a brave and gutsy showing against the then unbeaten and all-conquering Miguel Cotto, Graham says Paulie was basically in survival mode only in that one.

"Malignaggi was only trying to survive," Graham said on the Cotto fight. "When you try to win, you put yourself in a far more dangerous position, and I just don't see Malignaggi being a threat to Ricky. I've not been studying him because it's no longer my job, but Ricky will stop him. He will be too strong, too clever in the way he is able to cut off the ring, and Malignaggi will not have the strength to keep him off.

"As soon as Ricky starts catching him with good shots to the body, the fight will be determined. Ricky stops him definitely, that's the way I see it."

Though it may be a little harsh saying Malignaggi's fine effort against Miguel Cotto was primarily a survival-orientated one, Graham makes some good points in assessing November 22nd's fight. Will Hatton's body shots get to Malignaggi? Will Ricky's physical strength do likewise? Will "The Hitman" indeed get a stoppage win?

For what it's worth, though Graham is eminently more qualified to make a prediction than I am, I think we will see a distance fight in Las Vegas. I wouldn't be terribly surprised to see Malignaggi pull off the upset and win on points, either. Graham said IF Hatton is on form he will win - but that's the big question; will Hatton be on form? Ricky certainly was far from at his very best last time out, against big underdog Juan Lazcano.

As Hatton himself has admitted, November 22nd's fight against Malignaggi is a make or break affair for him. Should he do as Graham predicts and become the only man to have stopped Malignaggi, some massive fights/paydays will be ahead for Hatton. KO'ing or TKO'ing the speedster from New York will be no easy thing, however.

Article posted on 12.11.2008

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