Keyboard tappers are not afraid to proclaim a fight a “crossroads matchup.” Sometimes, we are guilty of hyperbole, but other times, we are not guilty of fabricating drama. Such is the case on Saturday night, in the main event of HBO’s “Boxing After Dark.”
Former lightweight champion Juan Diaz (34-2, 17 KOs; age 25) of Houston meets Brooklyn native and former junior welterweight champ Paulie Malignaggi (26-2, 5 KOs; age 29) in a scheduled 12-round junior welterweight bout at the Toyota Center in Houston. Both men are coming off recent losses in fights which would have been signature victories if they had won. Diaz was stopped by Juan Manuel Marquez last February, while Malignaggi was stopped by Ricky Hatton last November.
No one is saying that a loss for either man is a career killer. But Diaz’ style, all action, punches in bunches, take one to give two, means that he has mileage on him beyond his years. We are left wondering how much JMM stole from him in February. Malignaggi is a smart opponent choice, because his lack of power completely pales in comparison to Marquez,’ so many fight fans are expecting Diaz to have his hand raised at the end of the evening, figuring the New Yorker doesn’t have the pop to keep Diaz off of him. The stakes for the Brooklyner may be even greater. He hasn’t looked stellar in a couple of years, and went public with claims that his slide came as a result of a bad marriage, between he and trainer Buddy McGirt. Paulie got a get-back-on-the-horse win against a journeyman in March, but TSS U is wondering about his mindset. Doesn’t part of him think just maybe he has lost something recently, that bad advice from a trainer isn’t a full explanation for a spate of mediocre nights? Why, TSS U asks, is he yappin’ about Diaz’ hometown advantage, regarding refs and judges and the like—is his confidence lagging going into the bout, and is he perhaps laying the groundwork for explanations for a loss?
Weigh in, faithful readers, and tell us who will win on Saturday. Be specific, and come back late Saturday and Sunday and leave us your take on the bout and the card.