Shawn Porter vs. Paulie Malignaggi has the makings of a great fight due to the clash of styles and the wills of both men. It is the classic bull versus matador scenario which has played out time and time within the squared circle. Shawn Porter is a bullish, young title-holder who took the belt from Devon Alexander by taking the fight to the former champion, overwhelming him with punches and rough aggression en route to a unanimous decision victory. Paulie Malignaggi will play the role of the veteran matador on the night of the fight. Malignaggi looked very good in his last fight by out-hustling another veteran, Zab Judah. Paulie did his usual but effective boxing on the outside to pile up the points and keep Zab on the defensive. In recent fights, such as against Judah, Malignaggi has also displayed an increased arsenal which seems to be working well for him, by throwing more punches than usual in addition to mixing up his punches to the head and body.
Porter has the advantage in strength and power while Malignaggi has the advantage in both hand and foot speed. I give an edge in stamina to Malignaggi; while Porter does not appear to have stamina problems, Malignaggi is far more accustomed to going the 12 round distance. As for age, there is a seven year age difference between the two of them with Porter being 26 years old and Malignaggi being 33. Depending on perspective this could be an advantage or a disadvantage for the younger Porter. Malignaggi at 33 is certainly not old but he is a veteran in the ring and has fought among the top level a number of times. He has seen it all having boxed against the likes of Miguel Cotto, Amir Khan, Adrien Broner, and Zab Judah among others. Porter has defeated some very good fighters but has only fought professionally at the championship level once, in his victory over Alexander. Paulie Malignaggi may be the best opponent that Shawn Porter has faced, Shawn Porter is likely not the best opponent that Paulie Malignaggi has faced. Stylistically I also favor Malignaggi here. Paulie is used to keeping his distance while boxing in the center of the ring against an aggressive opponent, Porter on the other hand is not as used to a boxer such as Malignaggi. Porter has of course fought slick boxers but he has also had stationary opponents or those that come at him, making his job easier to reach them. He has not always had to look for his opponent while Malignaggi has almost always had to fend off a bull.
The fight itself many see as a toss-up; depending on where you go or who you speak to you’ll find a range of predictions. Porter, although a belt-holder, is still a bit of an unknown while Malignaggi has had some off nights in the past, such as his rematch against Lovemore N’dou. Assuming both are at their best, from what we have seen of them, I favor Malignaggi to take a hard fought victory. Expect the fight to look similar to Paulie’s fight against the “Baby Bull” Juan Diaz, though this one should be harder due to Porter’s size and strength. Porter will come out fast and attempt to draw Malignaggi into a fire-fight. It is up to Malignaggi to stick to his game plan and set traps for the younger champion while using the ring to keep Porter from getting set to attack. Porter can get wild at times which could catch an unprepared Paulie but Paulie has a proven chin and this fight should go to the scorecards. Most bouts are decided on who can fight their fight more but, in this one in particular, it will greatly decide the outcome. If Malignaggi can stay away and box, he wins. If Porter is able to constantly take his fight to Malignaggi and land often, he wins. The judges will also have their hands full since Porter will attempt to make it a rough fight on the inside and some may favor Porter’s aggression while others will favor Malignaggi’s boxing. However, Paulie Malignaggi should grind his way to a close, hard-fought decision victory and capture the IBF belt.