How much damage those punches can do is a question. With only five knockouts in 27 victories and none in the last seven years, Malignaggi isn't exactly seen as a stoppage threat to anyone. But the 23-year-old Khan (22-1, 16 KOs) might be a unique case. God gave Khan many special gifts, but a chin wasn't one of them. Khan has hit the canvas several times in his career and suffered a brutal first round knockout by Breidis Prescott two years ago that went viral on YouTube and left a huge dent in the Brit's rising star.
Malignaggi's trainer Lou DiBella says it is not out of the question that his fighter could put out Khan's lights. "Paulie doesn't have a lot of knockouts and isn't the biggest puncher, but this guy has a glass chin, and I mean a glass chin," DiBella says. "Paulie is going to hit Khan, and then even though Paulie doesn't have big power, he can hurt him. Juan Diaz is a tough, tough kid and he came close to being knocked out by Paulie."
Khan hasn't been knocked down in any of his four victories following the Prescott loss, but that was probably because Roach took a careful approach in selecting opponents. Each of those fighters had a low knockout percentage, with the exception of a washed-up Marco Antonio Barrera: Oisin Fagan (45 per cent), Andriy Kotelnik (37 per cent) and Dmitriy Salita (50 per cent). In a division loaded with heavy hitters like Marcos Maidana, Victor Ortiz and Devon Alexander, it's easy to see why Khan sidestepped them in favor of Malignaggi (16 per cent).
HBO commentator Max Kellerman says this is something of a modus operandi for Roach. "One advantage you get with Freddie Roach is matchmaking," Kellerman says. "He picks fights that favor his boxers, and is careful about who he matches them with. With Pacquiao, he has had great success because partly he has fought great, and partly he has been matched extremely well."
On the flip side, Kellerman doesn't put much stock in Roach's boast that Khan will take out Malignaggi in three. "Freddie tries to build his fighters confidence by saying things like that. The idea that Khan will blow Paulie out in three rounds -- if it happens you'd have to be duly impressed. Paulie is so tough and has such good whiskers and defense, I don't see that happening," Kellerman says.