Former Amir Khan opponent Paulie Malignaggi has spoken to WBN on the eve of one of the biggest fights of the year tonight.
Khan, 29, challenges Mexican superstar and two-weight world title holder Canelo Alvarez for the WBC middleweight championship at the newly-built T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Having shared ten and a half rounds with Khan back in 2010, Malignaggi is in the position to give an honest assessment of Khan’s chances of defeating Canelo, something only the great Floyd Mayweather has managed to do in an impressive 47-fight career.
“I really don’t think this is a great fight for Amir,” Malignaggi exclusively told World Boxing News.
“That’s nothing against Amir as I’ll probably be supporting him fight night, but from a boxing standpoint, I just don’t know if it’s the kind of fight that Amir needs. I think Amir is a big enough name to have taken other chances, but if there’s one thing I can say Amir needs to work with in this fight it’s to keep a consistent jab as jabs have been shown to bother Canelo Alvarez.
“Amir probably has the best jab in boxing right now, and from that perspective he needs to stay continually busy with it. That will keep Canelo off balance and guessing, so he can put enough rounds in the bag to make Canelo a little bit desperate.
“The thing is, people often say Amir has too much heart for his own good, but I don’t believe that. I think he’s just not versatile enough, and that like of versatility is where he’s always giving you the same look and fighting you at the same speed. Eventually, that lack of creativity allows these pressure guys to catch up with him – like Maidana and Garcia did.”
Khan has already been likened to the only man to blot Canelo’s copybook so far, Floyd Mayweather Jr, although Malignaggi doesn’t believe the similarities are enough for an upset win.
“It was Mayweather’s creativity that kept Canelo Alvarez off of him when they fought and Amir is going to have to mix his rhythm enough – with that creativity – to give Canelo enough different looks. Right now, I’ve only ever seen Amir give one single look to everybody, which is the high guard look, and he needs to change that.
“The key with Floyd was those different looks he gave Canelo because that allowed him to get his punches off – which is what Amir needs to do. Fight from different looks to get the angles he needs.
“I just don’t know if a guy can learn all that in a few months. I think Amir has been a bit more intelligent since he’s been with Virgil Hunter, maybe a little bit more patient even, but I don’t know if he’s physically changed that much to do what he needs to. He needs to jab, but not just throw the jab. You have to change the pace whilst using the jab. So its jabs, rhythm and looks which will allow you to be patient enough to land your own hooks or even combinations.
“If Amir can just keep that jab consistency for two or three rounds, and avoid the exchanges – which he has the weapons to do, I think he can have a certain amount of success. I mean, I don’t know if I’m explaining it well enough, but those looks, the rhythm of the jab and giving Canelo different targets are key to the success of Amir Khan in this fight. Can he take any of that success into the final few rounds of the fight and have Canelo Alvarez behind of the scorecards? – If he can, then he’s already got himself a moral victory by that point and then it becomes – can he close out the show and hold off the beast?
“It’s much harder said than done and I really don’t know if Amir can do that. I pick Canelo Alvarez to win the fight, but I do think Amir has certain key weapons that can be very useful.
“Floyd Mayweather showed the blueprint to confuse Canelo whilst maintaining a very sharp defense, but I just don’t know if Amir has the capabilities to pull that off. Khan actually has a better jab, than Mayweather – for me, so he needs to make everything revolve around that one weapon whilst consistently changing the looks.
“Miguel Cotto also showed how much success you can have against Canelo with the jab, and I can visualize what Khan needs to do in this fight, but I just don’t know if he’s got the ability to do that. I guy that slugs is always going to give Amir a difficult time, and given that Canelo is the bigger man, he could become that even bigger pressure guy on May 7,” he added.