Defending his 147-pound title before his home fans at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. Meanwhile Broner, a 10-1 favorite, is by passing the 140-lb division to challenge for the 147-lb title. He's attempting to capture his third world title in just a six-fight span. If successful, it will be one of the quickest routes to triple champion status ever achieved. Notable champs to jump the 140-lb division to challenge for the 147-lb title: Roberto Duran (W 15 Ray Leonard - 6/20/80); Shane Mosley (W 12 Oscar delaHoya- 6/17/00); Henry Armstrong (W 15 Barney Ross). Armstrong was the featherweight champ when he defeated Ross. He then dropped to lightweight and won that title.
Will "The Magic Man" produce some more wizardry or will "The Problem" befuddle -- or bulldoze -- him into a full-time broadcasting career? Their respective CompuBox profiles offer these informational nuggets:
Rediscovering Himself: When Malignaggi was struggling against Hatton and Amir Khan, he changed his style in the hopes of becoming more marketable. Instead of his natural stick-and-move approach, he tried to slug with sluggers and paid a hefty price for his ambition -- KO losses to Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton.
Against Khan he averaged just 44.2 punches per round and the normally jab-heavy Malignaggi boasted a 55/45 split in favor of jabs. His problems were even worse against Hatton as he threw 31.1 punches per round, though his jab/power ratio was 61/39 in favor of jabs.
In his last four fights against Jose Miguel Cotto, Orlando Lora, Vyacheslav Senchenko and Pablo Cesar Cano, Malignaggi returned to his roots and the results have been excellent -- four straight wins and a second divisional title. No longer concerned about cranking up power shots that put his notoriously brittle hands at risk, Malignaggi upped his volume to 76.7, 63.6, 71.9 and 68.8 punches per round respectively and averaged 56.8, 44.7, 52 and 53.9 jabs per round -- well above the 24.5 welterweight average. His jab-to-power-punch ratio also surged (74-26, 70-30, 72-28 and 78-22) and his jab accuracy has been above average (23%, 33%, 24% and 25%). That, in turn, led to jab connect gaps of 131-58, 147-32, 113-94 and 160-97 -- an average of 67.5 more landed jabs per fight! Malignaggi leads all active fighters with an average of 12 landed jabs per round. He also tops the list with 46 jabs thrown per round. CompuBox avg: 5/23. 72% of Malignaggi's thrown punches are jabs- tops for all active fighters. (CompuBox avg: 41%) . For complete list of CompuBox Categorical Leaders visit: compuboxonline.com.
A byproduct of Malignaggi's excellent jabbing is accurate power punching. He landed 53% of his power shots against the sieve-like Lora, 38% against the fundamentally sound Senchenko and 36% against Miguel Cotto's brother.
Eroding Skillset? Against Cano, however, Malignaggi landed 32% of his hooks, crosses and uppercuts and if he's losing his precision against the likes of Cano, how will he do against the elite skills of Broner? Paulie's D could be leaking as well. Cano landed 44% of his power shots vs. Paulie, the highest pct. landed by an opponent in 17 of Paulie's fights tracked by CompuBox. Cano's 262 landed punches were the most by a Malignaggi opponent. Miguel Cotto landed 203 vs. Malignaggi in his 12 round shellacking of Paulie on 6/10/06. Last month Cano was decisioned by 41-yr. old Shane Mosley, who landed 54% of his power shots vs. Cano. (Malignaggi landed 32% of his power shots vs. Cano). Cano landed 80 more total punches vs. Paulie (many hard body shots) than he did vs. Shane, who won for the first time in more than four years.
Knockout King: For all of his Mayweather-esque bluster, Broner has shown himself to be a far superior fighter in terms of producing knockouts. While "Money May" has scored just two knockouts in his last nine fights dating back to April 2006, Broner is riding a six-fight knockout streak while also stopping 16 of his last 17 opponents. During that streak, Broner's fights have lasted an average 3.7 rounds and if one removes the only distance fight of the bunch -- a disputed 10-round win over Daniel Ponce de Leon -- the average plummets to 3.3 rounds per fight.
The hallmark of Broner's success is his incredible blend of power and accuracy. After tasting some of Rees' thunder in the first two rounds (he was out-landed 37-32 overall and 28-26 in power shots), Broner blew him away in rounds 3-5 by out-landing In his most recent fight against Gavin Rees, Broner landed 61% of his power shots and out-landed the Welshman 117-51 (total) and 105-44 (power), scoring knockdowns in rounds four and five and prompting a corner surrender.
This dynamic is not new. Against Antonio DeMarco Broner landed 53% of his total punches, 58% of his power shots and out-landed the WBC lightweight king 241-93 (total) and 216-80 (power). In beating Vicente Escobedo as a full-fledged lightweight in a 130-pound title fight, Broner landed 44% overall, 45% of his jabs and 45% of his power shots en route to connect gaps of 114-58 (total), 54-25 (jabs) and 60-33 (power) en route to a five-round TKO.
In fact, the only two times Broner has registered under 40% in power connects in 11 CompuBox-tracked fights were against William Kickett in his 10th pro fight (37.2%) and Fernando Quintero (28.5%) in his ninth outing.
Prediction: Given his past weight issues, Broner will probably be comfortable at 147. And a comfortable Broner could well be a brilliant Broner. For all his boxing prowess, Malignaggi doesn't have nearly the power to earn "The Problem's" respect and even if he tried to do so his oft-broken hands probably wouldn't stand up to the stress. So the question is: can Malignaggi beat Broner with just a jab? Malignaggi's bravery and home ring advantage may actually work against him here, because those assets may well push him to go longer and harder than he should. When he faces fighters with similar hand speed and superior power (Khan being the prime example), Malignaggi struggles -- and struggles badly. If Broner handles the weight issue well, he should win by TKO in the middle to late rounds.