By Charles Jay
Paul Malignaggi has to be commended by the way he fought last time out, even in defeat. On Saturday he’ll try to turn such an effort into a victory as he takes on Zab Judah in a battle of two Brooklyn-based fighters, which is also an extremely interesting matchup for boxing bettors, taking place at the Barclays Center on Showtime. It’s scheduled for twelve rounds with the NABF 147-pound title at stake.
Malignaggi comes in with a record of 32-5 with seven KO’s, while Judah is 42-8 with 29 KO’s. In the boxing odds that have been posted on this fight at America’s Bookie, Judah is the favorite:
Zab Judah -155
Paul Malignaggi +125
Over 9.5 Rounds -650
Under 9.5 Rounds +500
Malignaggi was moved up the ladder very carefully, but while many boxing bettors and experts thought he was going to crumble when he moved up in class, he really didn’t do that. Yes, he lost to Miguel Cotto, but he was combative all the way. And what happened to him is the same thing that has happened in many of his fights, in that his hands betrayed him. Malignaggi has been plagued by brittle hands his whole career, and most astute boxing bettors know it.
After losing a 12-round decision for the WBO junior welterweight title in that fight, Malignaggi came back with an uninspired effort in beating Edner Cherry, then beat Lovemore N’Dou for the IBF version of the crown. After a couple of defense, he had a chance to go back on the world stage against Ricky Hatton, but failed miserably, putting up a short effort and getting stopped in eleven rounds. He also didn’t acquit himself well against Amir Khan in May 2010, again being stopped in eleven.
Boxing betting fans know that Malignaggi has been fortunate in that he has received additional title opportunities, and got one even after moving up to 147, and he beat previously unbeaten Vyacheslav Senchenko with a ninth-round TKO (a rare win inside the distance). That won him the WBA welterweight title, which he put on the line against Adrien Broner, who is being groomed as a new boxing superstar, on June 22. Malignaggi was much more aggressive and active than Broner, and grabbed an early advantage, but let Broner back in the fight, and the eventual result was a split decision loss.
Judah has always been regarded as lightning-fast, although at age 36 he’s obviously slowed down a little. He first became a world champion back in 1999 when he beat Wilfredo Negron on a TKO-4, and after winning six title fights subsequent to that many boxing bettors gave him a very good chance against Kostya Tszyu (November 2001). But Judah got stopped in two rounds, then freaked on referee Jay Nady, which led to a lengthy suspension.
Frankly, he’s been up and down ever since. He won the WBO 140-pound title over Chop Chop Corley but then lost when he moved up to 147 nine months later to Cory Spinks; he beat Spinks in a rematch but then lost the title to unheralded Carlos Baldomir, after which he pointed blame everywhere else. America’s Bookie customers remember him taking some early initiative but losing a clear decision to Floyd Mayweather, with some side brawls included; in June 2007 he lost for the third time in four fights to Miguel Cotto.
His win over Lucas Matthysse was hotly disputed and included being floored; he did manage to beat Kaizer Mabuza for the IBF 140-pound title in March 2001, but then he turned around and lost it when he got stopped by Amir Khan four months later. He lost his last fight too, as he challenged undefeated Danny Garcia for the WBC light welterweight title. Judah fought gallantly, but lost a close unanimous decision.
Boxing bettors know that these fighters are not exactly in the prime of their careers. But Malignaggi may have a little more left, and if he matches the work rate he had when he fought Broner, he could capture a win as the underdog in the boxing odds. Is he prepared to work hard for the whole twelve rounds? With those hands, he better be.
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