By Keith Idec
Paulie Malignaggi is a longtime friend of fellow Brooklyn native Luis Collazo and has fought Amir Khan.
The former two-division champion’s extreme familiarity with the strengths and weaknesses of both boxers is among the reasons the Showtime Championship Boxing analyst is so eager to watch Collazo and England’s Khan square off in a 12-round welterweight fight Saturday night on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana undercard at MGM Grand in Las Vegas ($74.95; Showtime Pay-Per-View; 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
“I think it’s a really good fight,” Malignaggi said. “I think it could go either way. Khan is trying to rejuvenate himself after the tough road that he’s travelled the last couple years. And Collazo, obviously, is unappreciated and really underrated. I think people are finally starting to get the hint that this guy is for real here, a good fighter, so I think this is a great crossroads matchup. There’s so much at stake in that fight. The winner might be Floyd Mayweather’s next opponent, if Floyd Mayweather beats Maidana, and the loser might be out of the top level of fighting. So really, it’s one extreme to the other. But that’s how important that fight is, and I think that for that reason both guys are going to leave it on the line.”
The ever-polarizing Khan (28-3, 19 KOs) hasn’t boxed since surviving a fourth-round knockdown and later troubles to out-point faded former lightweight champ Julio Diaz (40-10-1, 29 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 12-round junior welterweight bout a year ago. The 33-year-old Collazo (35-5, 18 KOs) is fresh off a highly impressive upset of fellow former welterweight champ Victor Ortiz (29-5-2, 22 KOs) – a second-round knockout Jan. 30 at Barclays Center that landed him a high-profile position on a Mayweather undercard.
“It’s hard to pick,” Malignaggi said. “It’s a tough thing because a lot of it is also which Amir shows up. I’ve got to be honest with you – if the Amir of the last couple years shows up, who hasn’t really looked that confident and hasn’t really been that aggressive, I don’t even think he makes it the distance. I think Collazo stops him. But if it’s the Amir of old, where we get that confident, aggressive, fast offense, it’s actually a very competitive fight and I wouldn’t be surprised if either guy wins it then.”
Malignaggi, 33, hasn’t decided if he’ll continue boxing following a fourth-round knockout loss to emerging IBF welterweight champ Shawn Porter (24-0-1, 15 KOs) on April 19 in Washington, D.C. After suffering the worst concussion of his 13-year pro career, he doesn’t want to make a hasty decision, but Malignaggi has said numerous times over the past year that he won’t fight much longer.
With retirement in sight, Malignaggi (33-6, 7 KOs) will concentrate on his blossoming broadcasting career and his partnership with Corona Extra Boxing. Malignaggi will be among four fighters featured on commemorative Corona Extra bottles as part of a summer promotion the Mexican beer company has sponsored with partner Golden Boy Promotions, which represents Malignaggi.
Fans can visit boxing.coronaextrausa.com for more information on Corona Extra’s Boxing Program, which includes a VIP trip for two to an upcoming Golden Boy Promotions card. The contest winner will receive airfare, hotel accommodations and fight tickets for two, as well as tickets to the weigh-in, an exclusive pre-fight party and an opportunity to enter the ring on fight night.
“Corona endorsed me for my last fight and [working with Corona] is an opportunity for me to maintain my association with boxing, aside from the commentating, on different levels,” Malignaggi said. “Working with a brand like Corona, which is involved in almost all television fights, it’s very clear that they’ve made a push not just to be involved in boxing, but with helping the fighters and getting the fans more involved by giving them contests like the one they have running on the website right now.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.