Sharkie’s Machine: Amir Khan Shuts Out Paulie Malignaggi

boxingBy Frank Gonzalez Jr. - May 17, 2010 - There are all types of fighters in boxing and just as many kinds of fans. Some go for the big time sluggers; guys like Mike Tyson, Tommy Hearns, Manny Pacquiao, Arthur Abraham and Marcos Maidana to name a few. We’re talking about guys who come to utterly destroy their opponents. Their fights are exciting and wildly entertaining.

Big time brawls, like Irish Mickey Ward vs. Arturo Gatti, Barrera vs. Morales, Vazquez vs. Marquez—will live forever in boxing history. Watching Ali pick apart his brawling opponents with fine boxing skill, mobility and psychological warfare…it’s an amazing thing to watch.

And there’s the fan that, above all else, prizes “boxing” for what it actually means; the fine art of self defense. To hit without being hit. To out maneuver and control an opponent with tenacious guile, savvy and ring generalship; all while popping the jab, scoring points and while making opponents miss and look the fool. Guys like Sweet Pea Whitaker, Winky Wright, Roy Jones Jr. and Floyd Mayweather Jr. come to mind..

Some of the greatest sluggers were neutered by great boxers, like the way Buster Douglass out boxed and ultimately kayoed Mike Tyson, who had problems with Douglass’ long jabbing and wasn’t able to get inside and deliver his goodnight uppercuts. And there have been the opposite, sluggers who destroyed great boxers, like Andre Dirrell recently out boxing and beating Arthur Abraham in every round, even knocking him down en route to winning by Disqualification, when Abraham hit Dirrell while he was already down. Or Ricardo Mayorga knocking out Vernon “The Viper” Forrest. That, countered by Cory Spinks shutting out Ricardo Mayorga some time later using superior boxing skills that rendered Mayorga totally incompetent that night.

On the menu Saturday in NYC was the Peoples Republic of Brooklyn’s Jr. Welterweight, Paulie Malignaggi, taking on British boxer by way of Pakistan, Amir Khan, who after being kayoed in 1 by Brandeis Prescott in 2008, has won five in a row and is now trained by super star trainer, Freddy Roach.

Paulie Malignaggi (27-3, 5 KO’s) is a good boxer with fists of feather. He can win rounds by making his opponent miss a lot but it has to be impressive. Malignaggi lacks what other great boxers have, if only sparingly—power. Rarely a favorite, due to his lack of power and his whacky persona does get old fast. Malignaggi has to truly earn any victories against big name fighters. I’ve seen him blessed with a few questionable wins and seen him lose a fight against Juan Diaz that he clearly won. He has no pop, but he is a very good “boxer” that can run circles around opponents and make them miss. He can land his jabs and little counter punches effective enough to score points but with only five knockouts on his resume, Paulie’s clearly not a big puncher.

Amir Khan is a serious kid with a good boxing pedigree. He was a hot prospect the minute he turned pro and with the exception of only one loss, he’s beaten all of his opponents in impressive style. After the Prescott loss, Khan took a pedestrian fight against Oisin Fagan, and was handed the WBA International Lightweight Title, whatever that means. Then Khan won a Technical Decision over an aged Marco Antonio Barrera. After that, he beat up on Andreas Kotelik, winning by nearly a shutout on the official scorecards. From there it was a fight against the very protected and unbeaten Dmitriy Salita, who Khan exposed and destroyed inside of one round. Enter, Paulie Malignaggi, American boxer who floats like a Bee but stings like a Butterfly.

In today’s boxing game, there is no structure that produces legitimate champions. And there’s all this nonsense about who’s the best pound for pound fighter in boxing, is it Floyd or is it Manny? I say it’s neither. How could there even be a best p4p if the fighters only fight hand picked opponents? Somebody help me out here. But unlike most competition sports, Boxing is a business where the promoters carefully create “champions” (spelled with little c’s since they never fight the best fighters in their own divisions) Today’s reality is that there are no Champions, there are just ‘titlists,’ since that’s what they are; fighters with title belts in divisions with other fighters with other title belts.

Titlists in the same weight classes rarely fight each other and its not profitable for the Sanctioning bodies to allow unification matches, since its better to have six (various named belts) titlists all paying sanctioning fees…than just one, true Champion.

There were some boo’s for NY’s own Paulie Malignaggi and cheers for WBA LW titlist, Amir “King” Khan as they made their way to the ring. But NY fans are as fickle as anyone and when Paulie did well, he heard his name chanted by some in the crowd.

Paulie has skills but Khan proved far too much for him. Khan had Paulie covered on all of his assets. Khan out boxed the boxer, landed the bigger, harder, cleaner punches and I couldn’t find a round to give to Malignaggi.

Round 1

Lot of brawling on the inside early. Malignaggi landed some jabs. Khan landed a short right, then a left, then a right, as he out-boxed Paulie and was always first. There was some clinching and some adjustments in the feel out process that was the first round. But Khan was clearly the better fighter from the start. Malignaggi came on late but nothing he threw landed clean. Khan clinched strategically. There was some neutralizing on both sides but Khan landed the better shots. 10-9 Khan. Khan was calm in corner.

After only one round was in the books, Malignaggi looked distressed in his corner, his face revealing what his mind had to be thinking. He was facing a very skillful boxer, who was younger, faster and at least equally adept in the fine art of hitting without being hit. For Paulie, his advantage, if any existed, was gone, nil.

Round 2

Khan landed the better shots during every exchange. Khan landed a grazing right hook. The crowd chants, “Paulie, Paulie!” fickle fans I tell ya! Khan combos, a left and right that stuns PM. Smoger warns both for roughhousing. PM is calming a bit, and ducks most of a AK’s assault. Khan is fast and in closing, landed a clean left. Khan fluid and effective. 10-9 Khan.

The fight continued the way it started, with Malignaggi taking a lot of punches and not landing enough to win a single round. Forget the rest of the rounds, they were all more of the same, with Khan landing the cleaner, harder shots and Malignaggi, changing to plan B, plan C but to no benefit.

By the eleventh round, Khan was looking as fresh as round one only both eyes were reddened, the result of some small successes of Paulie’s feather fisted offense. For eleven rounds, Khan out boxed and battered Paulie until at 1:25 of the round, referee Steve Smoger stepped between them and stopped the fight after Khan had Paulie against the ropes and was having his way.

I had no problem with the stoppage. Neither did Paulie. The championship rounds are the realm of punchers, their last chance in a losing battle. There was no point in continuing this fight because there’s no way Malignaggi was going to suddenly have power to knock Khan out. If Malignaggi had any kind of power to speak of, Smoger might’ve let the action continue. That was one of the best stoppages I’ve ever seen. Protect the fighters. Good on Steve Smoger.

Though there were some shenanigans during the lead up to this fight, with Amir and Paulie getting physical during a press conference, there was nothing but respect after the fight was over. They hugged, laughed and anyone could see the mutual respect. You gotta respect Paulie Malignaggi, he may not have big power but the man has BIG HEART. It took a lot of years before I came to be a fan of this fellow Brooklynite. Anyone who loves the art of boxing can appreciate what Paulie brings to the ring, even here, at the twilight of his career.

Amir Khan also deserves big respect for a fine exhibition of boxing skills. He wasn’t shy about questions regarding fighting Marcos Maidana, saying he knows he can beat him. That’s a bold statement. Maidana is a boxer/banger with a lot of will to win and the power to see it through. I’d love to see them duke it out.

Congratulations to Amir Khan on his successful American debut. Let’s hope he does fight Marcos Maidana in the near future because that will be a super sized test for young Amir Khan. But there’s another guy I’d like to see Khan test his skills against; Timothy Bradley, who as it stands now, is the number one guy in the 140 pound division. I’d like to see Bradley fight Devon Alexander too. Let’s hope the promoters think so too.

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Article posted on 17.05.2010

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