Paul Malignaggi has gotten good reviews as an analyst for Showtime. I asked the Brooklyn-bred boxer, who is still licking his wounds from a split decision loss to Adrien Broner on June 22, still thinking in his mind what he might have done differently to sway the judge who gave it to Broner, 115-113, to switch gears and assess one particular fight coming up in the near future.
What will happen in the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios faceoff, which sees Pacman ( pictured above, in Chris Farina-Top Rank photo) seeking to right his ship, get a much needed win while testing a chin that could be fatally compromised after being checked last December by Juan Manuel Marquez?
“For however long it lasts it should be a good fight,” Malignaggi told me. “Both Pacquiao and Rios can knock each other out. Bam Bam can punch pretty hard.”
I wondered if Rios and Malignaggi had ever sparred and the answer is no, for the record.
“I do worry a bit about Rios that guys that use their legs against him gets him a little out of his element,” he continued. “But I expect an entire camp working on cutting the ring off, using good aggressive footwork, will pay off. Sometimes people think only a guy going backwards needs good footwork. But you need it going forward too. I expect at camp for Rios to get at that. He needs good footwork to come forward against a skilled guy like Manny. Manny goes in and out. Alvarado gave Rios problems with movement and Pacquiao will be a better mover than Alvarado. You don’t want Pacquiao to dictate the pace of when he fights, you went to get at him during times when he’s looking to rest after a combo, get on him, force the pace.
“A lot of times a boxer wants to choose when to rest, you take that option away, you make him uncomfortable, and when those doubts creep in anything is possible. Bam Bam needs to create those mental doubts in Pacquiao, if not early then midway through the fight.”
And who wins the Nov. 23 clash between the 34-year-old Pacman, with the 54-5-2 record, and the 27-year-old Texas native who lives in California, and boasts a 31-1-1 mark?
“I lean a little bit towards Pacquiao,” Malignaggi said. “If Pacquiao knocks Rios out I wouldn’t be surprised. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the fight ended in a knockout for either guy. They are both dynamite punchers who get hit.
Let’s go with Pacman, a 55-45% edge to win.”