The 140-pound class boasts a deep pool of champions and contenders. Four of them will put their wares on the line as WBA champ Amir Khan fights Paul Malignaggi and Victor Ortiz battles Nate Campbell.
The mix of styles and story lines promises much intrigue and a look at CompuBox stats offers a glimpse of what was and what may be.
Factors that influence Khan-Malignaggi include:
New trainers: Both are in the midst of career revivals. Under Freddie Roach, Khan has gone 4-0 (3 KO) since Breidis Prescott starched him in 54 seconds Malignaggi has produced three excellent performances since Sharif Younan took over for Buddy McGirt. Roach and Younan have emphasized speed and long-range boxing, though in Khan's case power has come to the fore.
In stopping Dmitriy Salita in 76 seconds, Khan achieved a rare boxing feat - a shutout. He out-landed Salita 15-0 overall and all of his connects were power punches. Floored in the bout's opening seconds and overwhelmed by Khan's follow-up assault, Salita got off only 10 punches. As for Malignaggi, a return to side-to-side movement, darting jabs and slippery defense has vaulted him back to prominence.
Spraying Bullets: Besides maintaining range, both have increased their punch outputs to ensure that their opponents focus more heavily on defense.
In averaging 79 punches per round against Marco Antonio Barrera, Khan limited Barrera to 38.2 while in dethroning Andreas Kotelnik, Khan's 77.8 curbed Kotelnik to 49. Thus, Khan out-landed Barrera 104-32 overall and 72-25 in power connects while also outdoing Kotelnik 208-140 overall and 96-28 in landed jabs. While Khan and Kotelnik each landed 112 power shots, Khan's superior jabbing allowed him to reach that total in 80 fewer attempts (343-423).
Meanwhile, Malignaggi twice out-threw Juan Diaz. In the first fight, Malignaggi averaged 79.1 punches per round to Diaz's 55.2, out-landing him 191-178 overall and 111-55 in jabs. Besides home field advantage, Diaz may have been helped by his 123-80 bulge in power connects.
A similar pattern unfolded in the rematch as Malignaggi threw 66.8 to Diaz's 43 and out-landed him 169-146 overall and 102-70 in jabs. Diaz's power connects edge narrowed to 76-67, which may partially account for the wider victory margin.
Against Chris Fernandez, Malignaggi dominated save for the sixth when a hook rocked him. Otherwise he piled up advantages of 134-35 (overall), 49-14 (connected jabs) and 85-21 (power connects) en route to an eight-round decision. His 57.5 output was lower than usual, but the gulf in class between he and Fernandez (who threw just 33.5 per round) allowed Malignaggi to get away with throttling down. Against Khan, Malignaggi will need to fire on all cylinders.
Prediction: Because of Khan's height, Malignaggi must dart in and out without tasting heavy return fire. Plus, Khan boasts comparable hand speed and bigger power. Malignaggi's defensive prowess and courage will see him through to the final bell, but he'll lose a decision.
As for Ortiz-Campbell here's a thumbnail sketch of what they must do to win:
For Ortiz, less is more: Despite his high-octane reputation, Ortiz doesn't throw much. He averaged 36 punches per round in stopping Antonio Diaz and 29.5 against Maidana.
Power punching accuracy has been key. Against Diaz he connected on 49.2 percent of his 63 power shots and limited Diaz to 21.3 percent success (32 of 150) while against Maidana he landed at a 44.9 percent rate (70 of 156) to Maidana's 25.2 percent (63 of 250). Maidana prevailed only because each landed shot was harder.
Against Hector Alatorre the threat of Ortiz's power sufficed. Alatorre threw 18.8 punches per round and landed at 15 percent (overall), 11 percent (jabs) and 17 percent (power). Ortiz, who slowed his attack to get in more rounds, piled up 148-29 (total connects) and 131-24 (power connects) advantages while averaging 52.7 punches per round.
For Campbell, volume and verbiage might work: Win or lose Campbell is far busier. He averaged 53 punches against Ali Funeka, 55.7 against Timothy Bradley and 95.4 against Juan Diaz.
Campbell is a terrific body puncher. Of his 40 power connects against Bradley, 27 were to the body and his rugged inside work was effective against the rail-thin Funeka and the short, squat Diaz.
Many have questioned Ortiz's zest for combat and psychological warfare is one way to exploit it. Campbell is a prodigious trash talker and that could prove useful against Ortiz.
Prediction: For Campbell this is the Last Chance Saloon while for Ortiz it is the Road to Redemption. The key to the fight's length is how well Campbell absorbs Ortiz's punch early. The guess is that he will survive it but lose a decision.
HBO BAD - May 15, 2010
Nate Campbell vs Victor Ortiz