Fifteen to One. These preview articles usually don’t start with the odds for a fight but in this case, it appears appropriate. The main event of Saturday’s Showtime Championship Boxing presentation, originating from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York features WBA welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi (32-4) defending his title against Adrien Broner (26-0). Bet365 (www.bet365.com) lists Broner as a 1-14 favorite. SportBet has Broner at -1700. Bovada (www.bovada.lv) is practically offering a bargain by listing Broner at -1100. These are incredibly high odds for a boxing match. However, for a premium cable network to air such a fight as its main event, it is becoming quite common. In fact, Broner was an even bigger favorite in his February outing against Gavin Rees which was aired on HBO.
Basically, in trying to build stars, the premium networks, which boxing fans pay additional for every month, are airing fights where one fighter is thought to have next to no chance to win. Is that a good thing… obviously not. Networks that charge you extra to watch should provide competitive fights with odds, at the most, half as high as this weekend’s main event. That is pretty obvious too but given the proclivity of the networks to cater to certain promoters, managers and fighters, it needs to be said.
Enough of that… on to the fights.
If you have read any interview with Malignaggi in the lead up to this fight, you know he feels very disrespected by the odds. One could almost understand why. He is a two-division titlist with victories over Juan Diaz (which should be two victories but Diaz was given a gift decision in their first fight in Diaz’ hometown of Houston, Texas), Lovemore N’Dou, Jose Cotto and Vyacheslav Senchenko (in the Ukraine) and a close decision loss to a prime Miguel Cotto. Malignaggi is a fast fighter with quick hands, quick feet and solid boxing skills. He is also the bigger fighter as he has fought his entire career at either 140 or 147 pounds while Broner has only fought at 130 and 135 pounds. Finally, the fight is taking place in Malignaggi’s home borough of Brooklyn.
With all that in mind, one would think Malignaggi should be the favorite. Looking beyond those stats shows why Broner is the big time favorite. Malignaggi is not a big welterweight and his punching power is quite limited. Additionally, he has brittle hands which often get hurt during fights. While Malignaggi exhibited a good chin in his 2006 bout with Miguel Cotto, he has since taken a good amount of punishment, especially in stoppage losses to Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan. Most recently, Malignaggi looked terrible in winning a close split decision against Pablo Cesar Cano who followed up that fight by losing by a bigger margin to the shot Shane Mosley. Even worse, Malignaggi was dropped in the final round of the bout with Cano.
Broner, on the other hand, was a large lightweight and it is anctipated that his frame will easily accommodate welterweight. He has shown good power at the lower weights and has stopped his last six opponents: Jason Litzau, Vicente Rodriguez, Eloy Perez, Vicente Escobedo, Antonio DeMarco and Gavin Rees. You could also argue that those Broner opponents, along with Daniel Ponce de Leon, are just as good as the names of Malignaggi’s conquests. Although Malignaggi has faced elite opposition, he has lost everytime he stepped up. Broner’s skills and power appear to put him at that level.
Pulling the trigger on long odds like this requires absolute faith that the upset can be pulled off or a belief that you are getting a good value for the pick. Neither is present here. Broner’s defense is too good for Malignaggi to break and even if he can, he doesn’t hit hard enough to get Broner’s respect or hurt him. Broner, meanwhile, will find ways to tag Paulie, wear him down and eventually stop him. Broner is the pick.
The televised undercard will feature two other bouts. In a battle for the vacant WBC super middleweight title, Sakio Bika (31-5-2) takes on Marco Antonio Periban (20-0). The title is vacant because the WBC got tired of not making money off of the injured Andre Ward and is giving Bika and Periban a chance to fight for it. That, and Bika being an Al Haymon client, gets this bout on television. No lines are available for this bout but given Bika’s massive experience edge against much better competition, he must be the favorite. Additionally, Bika has a great chin and good skills. Bika is the pick in a stinker. The third bout is the rematch between heavyweights Johnathan Banks (29-1-1) and Seth Mitchell (25-1-1). Banks won the first bout by second round knockout and, to my knowledge, Mitchell, who began boxing late in life after being an NCAA football player, has not gotten a chin transplant. Bet365 lists Banks as a 5-6 favorite and Bovada and SportBet both have it an even money fight. Banks is the pick to repeat his knock out victory.
Author’s Record for the Year: 36-11-2 (Last week I claimed the fights presented sure things and indeed they were. 4-4 was great for last week and another perfect ths week could be the start of a huge run for this author).