Aftermath: A Little Perspective on Khan-Malignaggi & Other Weekend Results

Britain's Amir Khan celebrates defeating Paulie Malignaggi to defend his WBA super lightweight World Championship belt at Madison Square Garden in New York

Amir Khan stopped Paulie Malignaggi in 11 rounds before a lively crowd at The Theater in Madison Square Garden and already the peanut gallery is choking on its shells. Khan has been called, presumably without tongue in cheek, “a dominating 140-pounder” by RingTV.com. Sigh. Perspective is as lacking in boxing as honor is among thieves, but it is that much to expect a little rational discussion once in a while? Khan is a good fighter. But Malignaggi was, after all, as high as 4 ½ to 1 against on some books, and has scored only five knockouts in his entire career. The Cruelest Sport did not even bother to post a preview for this fight because, you know, 4 ½ to 1 fights are generally not meant to be competitive and why waste time pretending a lame donkey is Seabiscuit?

Khan, now 23-1, looked very good against an opponent who could not hurt him, throwing straight rights from the shoulder, jabbing with accuracy, and placing hard shots to the body. He also has exceptional hand speed and loads of natural talent to burn.

Malignaggi began taking lumps within seconds of the opening bell and never seemed able to figure out the correct distance from which to engage his opponent. Malignaggi, 27-4, scored with an occasional counter left and a jab here or there, but was almost completely ineffective in any other regard. Khan leans in a little when throwing combinations and, like many contemporary fighters, has no inside game to speak of at all, but Freddie Roach will only improve his game. Maybe in his next fight Khan will beat someone worth raising eyebrows over. Right now, he has beaten two or three serviceable pros and has the potential to accomplish much more. Save the confetti for when he does.

*****

Victor Ortiz outboxed creaky Nate Campbell over 10 dull rounds and it looks like his new cautious style is here to stay. Ortiz boxed well but without fire, and Campbell, 33-6-1, jawed more often than he punched. Campbell has now looked jaded three fights in a row and it might be safe to say that he is a spent force at this point. In the end, all this fight proves is that Ortiz, 27-2-1, is capable of beating washed-up opponents at least a decade older than he is.

*****

Incidentally, when Max Kellerman praises matchmaking on the air, he might want to make sure he qualifies his statement. In a sport too often run for the benefit of its puppetmasters, it would be nice to have machinations pointed out for what they are. For a promoter on this level, in this case Golden Boy, good matchmaking means putting a house fighter in with someone with very little chance of winning but who will not be flattened in 54 seconds; for the viewer, however, good matchmaking is–or should be, anyway–something else altogether.

*****

Steve Smoger has been known to do some weird things, like the time he coached Lou Savarese through an eight count during a fight. Just recently in Philadelphia, Smoger appeared to be watching himself on the overhead monitor at The Arena. But did anybody else out there think it was odd to see Smoger kissing Malignaggi on the back at least twice after stopping the fight? At one point Smoger had his arms wrapped around Malignaggi and appeared to be nuzzling “The Magic Man” from behind. Who knew whether to laugh or to cry?

*****

Two fighters trying to keep from sliding completely down the hill, Julio Diaz and Herman Ngoudjo, met in Primm, Nevada, on a card televised by ESPN2. In simple terms, Diaz at 60% of his best is far superior to Ngoudjo at 75% of his best, and Diaz won an easy decision that might give some the illusion that Diaz is back on track. So, Diaz flashed some of his old form–compact combination punching, solid left hooks to the body, and general ring know-how–and Ngoudjo had little to say about it over 10 rounds.

Ngoudjo, who reportedly suffered the second broken jaw of his career, should probably hang up the gloves at this point. He showed absolutely nothing against a fighter who has seen far better days and he has now fought at least 10 rounds in 12 out of his last 13 fights. As for Diaz, maybe Golden Boy Promotions will look him up in their Rolodex on behalf of Victor Ortiz.

*****

Guillermo Sanchez is the worst kind of fighter to watch: a clown. Sanchez, whose 11-0-1 record entering his bout with Dominic Salcido probably had many out there mumbling “a prospect, a prospect,” like Colonel Kurtz at the end of Apocalypse Now, should enter the ring next time out wearing a Pierrot costume. Maybe some calliope music to accompany his ring walk might also be appropriate. Salcido, now 18-2, outworked Sanchez, who mugged, kicked over his stool, shimmied, kissed the gloves of his opponent, and generally acted the fool. Among the many things he failed to show in the ring on Friday night, however, was talent. Along with this lack of skill, Sanchez fought like a man with a complete disinterest in his chosen profession. Salcido earned the duke by being a professional and showing up to win, not to audition for a part in The Improv Olympics.

*****

Sergiy Dzinziruk stopped Daniel Dawson in the 10th round on Friday night in Santa Inez, California in a junior middleweight paper title bout aired on Showtime. Dawson, now 34-2, tried hard and showed heart, but he was in a no-win situation from the moment he agreed to fight Dzinziruk on short notice. Dzinziruk boxes like a training manual from an Eastern Bloc nation circa 1956 come to life: jab, jab, straight left, circle, feint, jab. Precise and economical, Dzinziruk, who improved his record to 37-0, shows class and intelligence, and he looked surprisingly sharp after promotional issues kept him out of the ring for a year and a half.

*****

On the undercard, Detroit-based basket case Vernon Paris barely got past western states circuit fighter Juan Santiago via split decision over eight rounds. Paris, at least until his chaotic personal life got in the way, was in the bottomless “prospect” category, but has never fought an opponent even close to having a pulse since turning pro in 2006 and has yet to even take part in a bout scheduled for 10. In addition, Paris appears to be part of some strange bait and switch shenanigans in Michigan; recently, name opponents have been replaced at the last minute by Del Monte types. Even his MMA “debut” was cancelled at the last minute. At this point, Paris, although talented, is more of a sideshow than an actual fighter, and proof of this can be found in the fact that he is linked to a promoter who does not even have a valid license in Michigan. Who knows what Paris can do if he gets his act together? But the real question is, does he want to?

*****

Michael Katsidis, 27-2, played “Man vs. Boy” against Kevin Mitchell in West Ham, London, on Saturday night, demolishing the favorite in three one-sided rounds. It was a nice win for Katsidis, who is a professional prizefighter to the core. Fight on the road? No problem. Cut and bruised? No problem. Knocked down hard? No problem. Katsidis does the best he can under every circumstance and many of these circumstances are not the cushy ones so many other boxers enjoy with the regularity of sunrise and sunset.

Topics: AMIR KHAN, Daniel Dawson, Julio Diaz, MAX KELLERMAN, Michael Katsidis, Paul Malignaggi, Sergiy Dzinziruk, Steve Smoger, Vernon Paris, VICTOR ORTIZ

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  • willfrank

    Perfect summary of Ortiz’ performance. I like Victor and I hope he finds that something which allows him to reaches his full potential. But in carefully outboxing a seemingly disinterested Nate Campbell, he still hasn’t convinced me he has. Yet.

    And your observations on Kellerman and Juan Diaz are right on the mark too. Paulie was another carefully selected opponent as part of the AK development plan (and I still find it somewhat bizarre that a beltholder still needs to be “developing”). Having said that, I must express at least my moderate surprise at how easily Kahn dominated from the opening bell. He’s better than I previously gave him credit for, and the move to Freddie Roach looks like its paying bigtime dividends.

    Sanchez’ mugging really bothered me too. You would think a guy getting some national TV exposure would at least try to look impressive. I really thought we were going to see some post-fight theatrics from his corner when the judges (thankfully) got the decision right.

    • Carlos Acevedo

      Hi WF,

      Ortiz has some skill and as long as he keeps fighting Antonio Diaz/Nate Campbell types, he’ll be fine…I don’t understand why he gets paid lots of lettuce on HBO to fight washed-up folks, but that’s the way it works in this sport….The new cautious Ortiz approach really doesn’t matter, because you still get paid these days even if you’re boring….

      Nor do I understand the fuss made over that NYC card….or why people pretend that such and such underdog has a chance against the favorite…this shows a basic lack of understanding about boxing as a business…Unless an event is guaranteed to be a financial slamdunk, then a promoter is looking out to protect his investment…Malignaggi is a nice little fighter, etc., but he was brought in to boost Khan and because most folks who follow/write about boxing are clueless, it worked. Nice win for Khan, nothing major….he looked good and it should be left at that, but these days everyone likes to pretend that all fights are created equal. That’s why when an upset does occur, everyone loses control of their bowels simultaneously….subconsciously they must know that 85% of boxing matches are in the bag before the opening bell sounds…I’m going to have to reassess my policy of ignoring mismatches on TCS, I guess, and pretend, beforehand, that they are full of drama…

      Khan is talented, there is no question about that…the only real issue with him is whether or not he can take punishment in the ring….His last three opponents were all powderpuff punchers, and my guess is the next few will be, too (or someone moving up from junior lightweight/lightweight)…..

      Sanchez is my least favorite type of fighter and I don’t have anything to say about him except that i hope I never have to see him again…..

      Unless Kellerman was talking about “good matchmaking” from GBP’s perspective, his comment is senseless….I mean, how is a 4 1/2 to 1 fight and a shutout an example of good matchmaking for anybody other than the promoter, who makes most of his living getting HBO to overpay for the right to build up the promoter’s fighter? Building up a fighter is the job of a manager and a promoter, not a network…Can you imagine MLB making sure the Yankees play the worst team in the American League 161 times in one season?