Juan Diaz/Paulie Malignaggi Is On

BY Michael Woods ON June 09, 2009
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Fight fans will be getting some clarity in the lightweight division, as  former champions Juan Diaz and Paulie Malignaggi, each still smarting from marquee fight defeats, are set to tangle on Aug. 22.

Houston’s Diaz will enjoy a hometown advantage, and he’ll also get a weight concession, as Malignaggi will not be able to weigh more than 138 ½ pounds at the weigh in.

“I told Paulie to lay off his Grandma’s pasta and eat one less cannoli,” said Lou DiBella in a release.  “Paulie is confident of his speed and boxing ability and is prepared to win in the lion’s den of Houston.”

“This is a fight between two guys looking to prove something.  We are both coming off losses in big fights and we are both coming in hungry.  Expect fireworks,” said the 28-year-old Malignaggi (26-2, just 5 KOs). “I think we’ll both be coming in with our best, coming off losses. I think people expect one thing from me, and they’ll get something else. I haven’t used a lot of my strengths in a few years. He pressures you, but N’dou pressured me for twelve rounds, and I had no problem. I feel very confident on my end.”

The former junior welterweight titlist Malignaggi talked to TSS about the fight two days ago, and he expressed some worry that he might not be able to get a decision at Houston’s Toyota Center. The New Yorker’s confidence dipped when he was stopped, at his corner’s urging, in his November 2008 bout with Ricky Hatton. He beat Chris Fernandez at Foxwoods in April; that was his first fight without with Buddy McGirt in his corner since his last loss, to Miguel Cotto in June 2006. Check out our video section to hear Paulie talk about how Buddy’s training style didn’t fit him to a T; the onus will be on the Brooklyner to show the world that his criticism of McGirt has merit, and that he still has some juice left as a primetime fighter. Diaz bores forward, in a manner not dissimilar to Hatton, so it will be interesting to see how Malignaggi deals with aggression on this occasion.

The former lightweight champion Diaz (34-2, 17 KOs) started out gangbusters against Juan Manuel Marquez, in his last outing (Feb. 28). But JMM came on, and broke down the 25-year-old. He finished Diaz off via 9th round TKO, cutting up the younger man, and leaving him flat on his back in center ring at that same Toyota Center. His trainer/manager Willie Savannah talked to TSS about the bout, and how it came together.

Savannah talked to Kery Davis at the Pacquiao/Hatton belt, and threw a few names at Davis. Davis, Savannah said, said HBO would certainly pay for Diaz/Malignaggi. David Diaz had also been on the short list to meet Juan Diaz, but Savannah said a deal with David Diaz couldn’t be made. Savanannah is looking forward to the promotional savvy Paulie will bring to the table. “He talks trash but it’s respectful,” Savanannah said. I don’t want someone coming to Houston and talking about emeffer this, and do this to your wife, and all that.”

As for the weight limit, Savannah doesn’t want Juan fighting at 140, not unless he has to. He started his career at 140-plus, but since he isn’t a bomber and isn’t that tall (5-6), the lighter weight makes sense for the Baby Bull.

Malignaggi said he is slightly POd about the weight issue. He said Team Diaz wants to make him weak, and wanted him at 137 pounds, after initially agreeing to 139 pounds. “C’mon, we’re all adults here, I thought that was baby games,” he said. “I have nothing against Diaz personally but I will take it out on him.”

Smart move by Team Diaz, choosing a lighter-hitting type like Paulie after Marquez gave the Baby Bull the business, and while he has never had real trouble making weight, trying to gain even a slight advantage by forcing the Brooklyner to drop an extra 1 ½ pounds is crafty.

Who do you like in this one, crew?

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