Malignaggi vs. Diaz, Klassen vs. Guerrero on Saturday Night – News

By Boxing News - 08/21/2009 - Comments

By Jason Kim: Former IBF/WBA/WBO lightweight champion Juan Diaz (34-2, 17 KO’s) will be moving up in weight to take on former International Boxing Federation light welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi (26-2, 5 KO’s) on Saturday night at the Toyota Center, in Houston, Texas. Diaz, 25, will be fighting in front of his home crowd and will be looking to turn things around with his stalling career.

Diaz has lost two out of his last three fights and not looked like the same fighter he was two years ago when he was beating opponents like Julio Diaz and Acelino Freitas. Diaz was stopped in the 9th round in his last fight against Juan Manuel Marquez in February, and had big problems with Marquez’s uppercuts and counter punching.

maligaggi55336Before that, Diaz had beaten Michael Katsidis in a close 12 round decision in September 2008. Although Diaz got the win, he didn’t exactly shine in the winning effort, getting nailed often by big right hands from the Australian Katsidis. Diaz was defeated by Nate Campbell by a 12 round split decision in March 2008, a bout that Diaz was winning until getting up over his right eye in the 6th.

After the cut opened up, Diaz fought passively for the remainder of the fight and was outworked by Campbell. As bad as the cut was, the fight probably should have been stopped much earlier because Diaz was having serious troubles seeing out of his eye and not fighting effectively.

Malignaggi, 28, was stopped by Ricky Hatton in the 11th round in November, and dominated throughout. Known for being a light puncher, Malignaggi had no chance against Hatton, who kept Malignaggi under constant pressure the entire fight. Following that defeat, Malignaggi rebounded with an eight round decision over Christopher Fernandez in April 2009.

After easily winning the first five rounds with jabs, short combinations and a lot of movement, Malignaggi was hurt by a left-right combination while trapped on the ropes late in the 6th round. Malignaggi then immediately grabbed Fernandez in a tight clinch and rode out the remainder of the round without getting hit again.

In the 7th and 8th rounds, Malignaggi clinched constantly and moved all around the ring trying to keep away from Fernandez. Malignaggi ended up winning, but it was worrying that he was hurt by a fighter like Fernandez, who isn’t one of the quickest or most talented fighters in the light welterweight division.

Malignaggi will have the size advantage over Diaz on Saturday night. That’s a rare thing for Malignaggi, because he’s often smaller than his opponents. Whether that will play into his advantage is unclear. Diaz, only 5’6”, is an excellent pressure fighter and knows how to cut off the ring and make his opponents work. But Diaz does better against stationary opponents who stand directly in front of him, and Malignaggi doesn’t fight that way.

Paulie will stay on the move the entire fight picking Diaz off with jabs and short combinations and will give him few opportunities to land more than a couple punches at a time. Diaz did poorly against Katsidis when the Australian chose to fight on the outside. That’s not a good sign for Diaz going into a fight against one of the most skilled fighters in boxing.

Look for Malignaggi to outbox Diaz and win by a decision. I think Diaz is making a big mistake in moving up to the light welterweight division. He’s too short and doesn’t hit hard enough to compete with the better fighters in the division. He’ll get the message sooner or later and will likely move back down to lightweight.

Prediction: Malignaggi by 12 round decision.


The other interesting fight on the card is IBF super featherweight champion Malcolm Klassen (24-4-2, 15 KO’s) defending his title against challenger Robert Guerrero (24-1-1, 17 KO’s). Guerrero, 26, a two-time featherweight champion, moved up recently to super featherweight to try his luck at that weight. Guerrero hasn’t looked nearly as good as he used to since moving up in weight, struggling badly against Daud Cino Yordan in a fight that ended up as a no contest in the 2nd round. And then in Guerrero’s most recent fight, Guerrero defeated Efren Hinojosa in an 8th round stoppage in June.

Guerrero likes to attack the body with hooks and uppercuts and is an excellent pressure fighter. He may have problems against Klassen, who throws a lot of punches and seems to never stop letting his hands go. Klassen, from South Africa, stopped Cassius Baloyi in the 7th round in April to capture the IBF super featherweight title. Klassen kept the pressure on Baloyi throughout the fight, nailing him with punch after punch and keeping him from getting his offense started.

In the 7th round, Klassen hurt Baloyi with a nice right hand and then pummeled him with repeated rights until the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. Guerrero doesn’t have a punch output like Klassen, not even close. Guerrero is going to have to try and hurt him with a big punch to slow Klassen down because as bad as Guerrero looked against Yordan, Klassen is capable of making him look much worse with his high work rate.

Prediction: Klassen by 12 round decision.

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