Boxing star Amir Khan believes the clash between Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah will come down to who can handle the pressure best when the Brooklyn natives battle for local bragging rights live on BoxNation.
The hometown heroes both descend from the famed borough in New York and will share the ring this Saturday night at the Barclays Center, which lies in the heart of the Brooklyn area.
After having fought, and beat, both men, Khan is well placed to assess the fight and believes that handling the unique pressure that this fight presents will be crucial for the two world class veterans.
“I think it could all come down to who handles the pressure and expectation the best,” said Khan, speaking exclusively to BoxNation.
“Even though both guys are very experienced in the sport this is new to both of them. It’s rare to see, but they’re two top fighters from the same neck of the woods going at it in their own backyard. That alone gives the fight that extra edge; it adds that little bit of pressure because neither will want to lose,” he said.
“It could change, or have an impact, on their approach during the fight because if one of them gets tagged they’ll be desperate to try and get the other back because they won’t want to lose face in front of their home crowd and will always want to be on top,” he said.
“It’s a really exciting and intriguing matchup because it’s so hard to call. The atmosphere is going to be electric and both guys are going to leave it all in the ring,” said Khan.
The former unified light-welterweight world champion was quick to acknowledge the abilities of both fighters and thinks their recent outings could also play a part.
“Paulie tends to be a little underrated,” Khan said. “He’s a fantastic fighter that brings a lot to the table such as his speed and his boxing skills. I think he surprised a lot of fans in his fight with Adrien Broner because a lot felt he won that fight. That could certainly act as extra motivation for him going into this one,” he said.
“Paulie’s not the biggest puncher but he’s got many assets that mean he doesn’t really need to be. He can make you miss and counter you and because of his speed and quick thinking he’s able to do that. Over the distance he’s hard to beat because he picks up rounds that way,” Khan explained.
“One key advantage that Zab has though is he can bang a bit more and also carries speed with him. Add in his awkward southpaw style and you have a fighter that can cause anybody major problems – like his last fight with Danny Garcia showed,” Khan stated.
The 26-year-old will be ringside on the night and is expected to join both men by making his move up to the welterweight division in his next outing.
Khan, however, thinks this weekend’s showdown is going to be a close one, giving the edge ever so slightly to two-weight world champion Malignaggi.
“It will be a very close fight with some really high class boxing on display and I think it will go the distance. I’m leaning towards Paulie in the fight simply because I think he’s the fresher of both fighters and will be really keen to bounce back from the Broner defeat,” Khan said.
“But it’s a really hard fight to call because Zab is going to be equally motivated, he’s awkward and his southpaw style could cause problems. It’s great fights like this that fans want to see, where it’s hard to pick a winner – it’s a really interesting matchup,” he added.
The bill also features a stacked undercard with three world title fights taking place.
Devon Alexander faces undefeated Shawn Porter for his IBF welterweight title, Erislandy Lara goes up against Austin Trout for the WBA light-middleweight crown and Sakio Bika defends his WBC super-middleweight belt against the unbeaten and big-hitting Anthony Dirrell.