Paulie Malignaggi Last Stopped An Opponent In 2003 - Can "The Magic Man" Really Turn His Five KO Wins Into Six Against Khan?

by James Slater - Paulie Malignaggi, who, of course challenges WBA light-welterweight ruler Amir Khan in his native New York a week today, has a fine pro record at 27 wins and just three defeats (two "genuine" defeats, as we all know the 29-year-old was the victim of an at the very least debatable decision in his first fight with Juan Diaz). The problem, as fans know, is the lack of stoppage wins "The Magic Man" has to his name - just five; with the most recent one coming way back in 2003..

Despite this lack of pop, however, Malignaggi has said, no, promised, that he will stop 23-year-old Khan when he faces him at Madison Square Garden next Saturday. Feeling angry towards an opponent like never before (as all those fans who have listened to or read the "On the Ropes" feature with Paulie a few scrolls down will know), Malignaggi has put himself in the line of fire by stating how he will stop Khan. If he doesn't do it, his critics will likely throw his words back at him; even harder if he actually loses to Khan. But what if Malignaggi does manage to halt Khan, becoming the second man to have done so? Would Khan lose enough credibility as a fighter to seriously consider having to quit the sport?

No, I'm not slighting Malignaggi by suggesting that if Khan lost to him it would prove that Khan is a no-talent fake. But I am saying that if Malignaggi stopped or, worse, outright knocked him out, Khan would never again hear anything but laughter when talk turned to his chin. Malignaggi, a gifted and slick boxer, could well out-point Khan, and if this happened, Khan would not really feel any need to be embarrassed. But KO'd? That's a whole different story. Can Malignaggi reach deep enough into his bag of tricks and turn the five KO wins he currently has into six on May 15th?

The last guy Malignaggi halted was a Boston, Massachusetts fighter named Kevin "Cocky" Watts. Entering the August, 2003 bout with the 22-year-old Malignaggi, Watts had a decent enough 18-2 record as a pro, and he had never been stopped. The fight went out on ESPN (and is featured in highlight form in the Malignaggi movie "Magic Man") and six humiliating rounds later, Watts, who had talked a great fight beforehand, was TKO'd. All but ruined as a fighter confidence-wise, the 32-year-old lost all of his following five fights, four of them inside the distance.

Since that quite stunning showcase, in engaging in a further sixteen fights, Malignaggi has either won on points, lost on points, or, in the case of the Ricky Hatton fight, been pulled out by his corner. But never has he put a dent in an opponent. Of course, the impressive win over Watts came before Malignaggi began suffering from the well-documented hand trouble his career was to be plagued by - where a number of broken bones occured, meaning the need for subsequent hand operations; a fighter's hands being his single most vital tools.

Also, as Malignaggi has pointed out himself, he faced a lot of very durable, seldom-stopped fighters post-Watts - guys like Donald Camarena, Edner Cherry, Lovemore N'dou and Herman Ngoudjo; all of whom have NEVER been stopped to this day.

Still, taking all this into account, as well as the fact that Khan's jaw - the one that was absolutely obliterated inside 54-seconds by Colombia's Breidis Prescott in September of 2008 - is suspect in a big way, it's hard to see Malignaggi taking Khan out next week. With a chin as unreliable as Khan's anything's possible, and Malignaggi is both fans and accurate, but he is no puncher; certainly nowhere near the hurtful type that Prescott is.

While I wouldn't rule out a Malignaggi win, I would be extremely reluctant to put any money on him halting Khan. Turning his five KO's into six is, I feel, a trick too far even for "The Magic Man." Deep down I bet he thinks so too.

Article posted on 09.05.2010

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