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Should Malignaggi Fight Maidana Next?

Marcos Rene Maidana Paulie MalignaggiBy Jason Kim: Light welterweight contender Paulie Malignaggi (26-3, 5 KO’s) is riding high right about now because of the controversy surrounding his 12 round decision loss to Juan Diaz on August 22nd, in Diaz’s home town of Houston, Texas. Many people witnessed the fight and were angered when Diaz won a fight that appeared to belong to Malignaggi by at least two rounds.

One of the judges scored it 118-110 for Diaz, basically seeing it as a lopsided decision despite the closeness of the fight. However, Malignaggi actually emerged as the winner in this fight, because he’s even more popular than he was going into the fight.

That’s not going to last long unless Malignaggi follows this fight up by facing a good opponent in the light welterweight division, someone like Marcos Maidana, for example. I think this would be the perfect fight for Malignaggi to take, because he can’t afford to waste time fighting more B level fighters.

At the same time, if he’ counting on Diaz having a guilty conscience about his win and deciding to give Malignaggi a rematch, I wouldn’t advise for Paulie to hold his breath waiting for that to happen. Malignaggi is likely going to have to seek other alternatives, because he had his shot against Diaz, and he blew it by not knocking him out. Juan Manuel Marquez understood what he was up against when he faced Diaz, and made sure he came out the winner by planting Diaz in the 9th round.

If Malignaggi wants to keep the momentum going with his fight against Diaz, a bout against the hard punching Maidana would be the exact thing that he needs right now. Maidana is currently the World Boxing Association light interim light welterweight champion, and is likely available for a fight. Maidana is hoping to take on the WBA light welterweight champion Amir Khan, but I suspect that’s never going to happen in this lifetime.

Khan will probably vacate the title after defending it once against Dimitri Salita in the near future. That would leave Maidana without an opponent. This is where Malignaggi could use the opportunity to swoop in and get Maidana for bout.

This obviously would be a very tough opponent for Malignaggi, because Maidana is probably the hardest puncher in the light welterweight division, and much stronger than Ricky Hatton, who made easy work of Malignaggi last year in November 2008, stopping him in the 11th round.

Malignaggi would have to move a lot similar to the way that he did against Diaz, only much more, because Maidana punches so much harder than Diaz does. Malignaggi would have to be in his form, shooting his jab out repeatedly to prevent Maidana from closing the distance and putting hands on him.

There’s no question that Maidana will land, because he was able to cut off the ring easily against Victor Ortiz and stop him in the 6th round in June. But hopefully, Malignaggi would be able to move just enough to limit the number of times that Maidana could land his big shots. I think this is a very winnable fight for Malignaggi if he did everything correctly and didn’t stand still for more than a second.

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