Make no mistake about it, Hassan N'Dam was outboxed by Peter Quillin at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night. Just because a fighter is up on his toes, moving side to side and firing his jab, that doesn't mean he's boxing. Peter Quillin was the smarter boxer in there who had a much better understanding of angles. Firstly, Quillin began to time N'Dam as he was coming in from the outside. Most of the time, N'Dam was leading with left hooks from the outside. The problem here was that N'Dam's shots were wide and looping whereas Quillin's were straighter and shorter -more compact. As N'Dam came in with a wide left hook, Quillin, using his feet to turn his left side in and in line with N'Dam's centre line, timed it so he landed his shorter left hand first.
The left hook continued to work throughout the fight. However, what wasn't mentioned by Showtime was that it was actually Quillin's straight right hand that he threw just BEFORE the left hook that enabled it to land every time he let it go. Every time N'Dam threw his left hand -a hook or a jab- his right hand drifted away from his chin. Quillin spotted this and exploited it. Quillin's right hand was thrown to open N'Dam up for the left hook. If you get the chance to watch the fight again, you'll see this over and over -Quillin stepping in with the straight right hand, N'Dam responding by trying to counter it with his left hand, only for Quillin to counter his attempted counter with his left hook. This is real boxing -using angles instead of being ineffective by bouncing around the ring. N'Dam was far too predictable from the outside. Too much style and not enough substance. Look at Quillin's feet compared to N'Dam's throughout the fight, always sliding to his positions, with his feet seldom leaving the canvas which allowed him to always remain in balance and in position to punch. N'Dam on the other hand, was always up on his toes. His balance suffered as a result.
As N'Dam came inside, he was always squared up to Quillin, and as he tried to exit the pocket, he always backed up in a straight line, instead of circling out -Peter Quillin, with his superior timing and punching power, took advantage of technical flaws in N'Dam's game.
I'm afraid Erik Morales is finished as a fighter. He looked very soft around the waist, slow in hand and foot speed and his punches, which were few and far between, lacked any real snap. Morales struggled to get off while foe Danny Garcia, busy behind the jab and in working the body, did what he had to do and got his man out of there.
That left hook from Garcia was a thing of beauty and it was timed to absolute perfection. First, Garcia tapped Morales's glove three times with a soft jab which made Morales think it was safe to launch an attack. Second, as Morales lead with his jab, Garcia, anticipating it, slipped inside the jab and countered with a left hook -a perfect example on how to create a punching angle.
Devon Alexander was simply too fast for Randall Bailey. Devon did a good job of negating Bailey's jab by keeping his right hand out in front of him, where he performed a kind of parry on Bailey's left glove. Bailey's only real chance of winning the fight was to land his right hand, but it was always going to be tough when the shot that sets it up best, the jab, was taken away from him. Alexander, working from behind his own jab, used his southpaw angles to full effect by constantly turning Bailey, who lacked the hand and foot speed to keep up with Alexander.
Speed was the difference maker here.
I'm biased towards skilled technicians and as a result, I've always been a fan of Paulie Malignaggi. Because of his lack of power, though, he's always fallen short of being considered one of the upper echelon in boxing. Sometimes he can struggle to keep fighters off of him. This is because he's not quite as good at making an opponent miss as other feather-fisted craftsmen like Pernell Whitaker or Willie Pep were and because he lacks the pop to make his opponents respect him. Hence, he can be hit and he can be hurt. Both Khan and Ricky Hatton proved this as they were too physical for him despite Malignaggi possessing more pure skill than either of them.
Here's what Malignaggi is masterful at--staying within punching range, circling behind his jab, feinting and controlling his opponents with his left hand work. He's quite brilliant at it. Notice the difference in stance between Malignaggi and Cano. Malignaggi stands very side-on behind his left shoulder carrying his left glove below his waist. His right hand is always by his chin with his right elbow protecting his body. Pablo Cano, on the other hand, was very horizontal with both gloves held high and close to his head. Malignaggi, with his excellent defense, is always going to do well against slower fighters who are looking to land their wider, easier to read and further travelling shots out of this stance. Although his stance suggests otherwise, there aren't many gaps offered from Malignaggi to exploit.
Basically, Malinaggi controlled the fight with the left hand, whether it was by using his jab to the head or to the body, or with his left hook. His constant clockwise pivoting always allows him to create punching angles for his left hand and because it's travelling from his waist, it's tough to track. Also, you'd think because he carries his left hand so low, he'd be relatively easy to hit. This clearly isn't the case because Malignaggi knows every evasive trick in the book -leaning away, rolling, ducking under etc..
Although he got caught with a right hand late on, it was a pretty flawless performance from Malignaggi. He's the type of technician any aspiring fighter should study. He's so relaxed in there and he's one of the better examples of a fighter controlling a man with one hand. Cano did get in some good shots to the body that Paulie wouldn't usually be hit with, so I can the point of anyone saying he looked his age a bit in Brooklyn.
Ultimately though, it comes down to personal preferance. Yes, those body shots had more physical impact than Malinaggi's jab, but did they impact the nature of the fight enough to declare them superior to Malinaggi's jab? I thought Malinaggi's jab was the cleanest -maybe not the hardest- punch that landed throughout and I thought he controlled the action with it, thus giving him the edge in ring generalship. Defense? I felt Malinaggi showed the better ability to avoid getting hit. And effective aggression? Malinaggi was often on the back foot but I thought he was the one initiating most of the action. Again, this was one of those Hagler/Leonard type of affairs when it comes down to one's personal taste. Like I said earlier, I'm biased in favour of technicians so If I see a fighter working behind a jab, using angles and making his opponent miss, stopping an opponent from doing what they set out to do, I'm going to lean towards him in a close fight.
I really enjoy watching Malignaggi, who, along with Anselmo Moreno, Joan Guzman and Floyd Mayweather, is one of the very best pure boxers in the sport.
Who's the best Mexican boxer today?