Who Faces the More Difficult Fight On Saturday - Amir Khan Or Kevin Mitchell?

by James Slater - Amir Khan and Kevin Mitchell, two British fighters who very much want to become true world beaters, both take arguably the most important fight of their respective careers this coming Saturday - on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Khan's must-win night comes against the experienced, accomplished and slick Paulie Malignaggi in New York; the unbeaten Mitchell's assignment is to see off teak-tough Australian banger Michael Katsidis in London. Both men face a potentially rough evening, but who has the better chance of achieving victory - the defending WBA 140-pound champ or the man who will challenge for the interim version of the WBO 135-pound strap?

Khan certainly faces the lesser puncher of the two men in "Magic Man" Malignaggi, a man with just 5 stoppage wins to his name. On the other hand, the once-beaten 23-year-old is facing a far better boxer than the man Mitchell will be tangling with.. Khan may be safe from being KO'd (although Malignaggi says different), but he could well wind up being made to miss, he could find himself being generally outclassed and he could lose a decision in what is his U.S debut.

Mitchell, the better boxer compared to Katsidis, doesn't have to worry about the silky skills of the Toowoomba warrior, but he, unlike Khan, faces genuine danger of the one-punch variety. On pure punching power alone, then, Mitchell faces the more risky assignment. Of course, hitting power and aggression (two things "The Great" has in abundance) don't alone win fights, but to my mind Mitchell has the harder "physical" fight on Saturday night.

Having said that, I'd feel happier putting money on a Mitchell win that I would a Khan win. Why? Khan's suspect chin combined with what I feel is a case of over-confidence on his part, that's why. Is Khan focusing too much on looking good and getting the dominant stoppage win in his first fight in America, and is he overlooking Malignaggi's blend of speed, cuteness and pride-induced toughness as a result? I have a gut feeling the answer is yes.

Make no mistake, though he is always confident, Mitchell, not a big mouth (at least in comparison to Khan, who has angered Malignaggi like no other opponent due to his pre-fight words) has not in any way overlooked Katsidis; remaining respectful of Katsidis at all times. And this, I feel, could be the difference with regards to him being successful and Khan maybe not being.

I'm not saying Khan will lose; I am saying I wouldn't be shocked if he did - nor would I be shocked if he struggled to look good against the New Yorker. Mitchell, on the other hand, faces a man he will almost certainly shine against due to the come-forward style Katsidis has. Expect a virtual repeat of Mitchell's faultless showing against the also-dangerous Breidis Prescott (who Mitchell won a wide UD over back in December, and who also boxes on the Khan-Malignaggi bill).

In short, Mitchell faces a more lethal puncher in Katsidis, but also a man who will make him look good due to his poor attention to defence and his tendency to enjoy a "tear-up". Khan, meanwhile, faces a relative non-puncher, but a tricky and somewhat awkward boxer who has a excellent chance of making Khan look not so good due to how hard he can be to nail cleanly and how fast his own hands are. Despite Malignaggi's lack of pop, I think it is Khan who faces the more technically difficult fight on Saturday night.

Article posted on 11.05.2010

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