x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Khan has too much for Malignaggi

Amir Khan vowed to unify the light-welterweight division after retaining his WBA title with victory over Paulie Malignaggi.

Amir Khan, right, showed a dominant performance to beat local favourite Paulie Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden, New York.
Amir Khan, right, showed a dominant performance to beat local favourite Paulie Malignaggi at Madison Square Garden, New York.

Amir Khan vowed to unify the light-welterweight division after retaining his WBA title with victory over Paulie Malignaggi. Khan enjoyed an impressive American debut with an 11th-round stoppage of New Yorker Malignaggi, who was outclassed throughout. Khan was leading decisively on all three scorecards and eventually forced referee Steve Smoger to step in and call the fight off after one minute and 25 seconds of the 11th round. And the 23-year-old former Olympic silver medallist quickly turned his thoughts to further victories. "I'm making 140lb easy, I feel strong," Khan said. "I'm not leaving 140lb until I unify the title. Until I'm No 1 I'm not going to leave this division." New Yorker Malignaggi's war of words with Khan had seen a tense weigh-in descend into chaos as the two camps jostled on stage in a confrontation which saw some of the British fighter's fans try to join in and resulted in Malignaggi falling off the dais through a promotional hoarding. Neither boxer was hurt but it added an extra tension to fight night and there were isolated scuffles among the crowd of 4,412 at the Garden's Theatre venue. In his first title defence since winning the title from Andriy Kotelnik 10 months ago, Khan had scored a first-round stoppage of Dmitriy Salita in Newcastle in December. Malignaggi, who had changed trainers following the only previous stoppage in his career by Ricky Hatton in November 2008, had said he felt rejuvenated under Sherif Yunan and promised to be a slicker, more slippery prospect than his friend Salita. He certainly lasted longer, although Khan looked sharper from the off, catching the American with a series of vicious jabs in the opening round, while Malignaggi had the better of it when the pair traded punches. The second round belonged to Khan also as he began to work Malignaggi's body as trainer Freddie Roach had planned. Malignaggi's face reddened in the third and a swelling developed in the corner of his left eye as Khan again came away the better from their intermittent yet furious skirmishes. Malignaggi went down in the fifth although it was ruled as a slip, but Khan was still landing effective jabs, leaving the American's corner to work overtime between each round. The seventh round saw the champion again do damage to Malignaggi with his jab, both in isolation and in combinations, although that did not stop the American smiling and sticking his tongue out in Khan's direction at the bell. It was proving to be more or less his only weapon. With only five stoppage wins in his career and way behind on the scorecards, Malignaggi faced an uphill struggle to get anything from the fight. As brave as Malignaggi was, the fight was turning into a Khan exhibition and the American was seen arguing with the doctor in his corner at the end of the 10th to keep the contest going. He was allowed to continue but for only a further 85 seconds before the contest was stopped. Speaking about the fight with Malignaggi, Khan added on ESPN: "We stuck to the game plan, we knew Paulie is a very awkward fighter, he's a great boxer, great at moving. "We had to break him down slowly, we didn't want to run in there trying to knock him out because we would have got caught with shots. "I knew in the last few rounds I was hurting him and all I had to do was put the pressure on him." Malignaggi paid tribute to Khan, adding: "I don't know if I'm getting old, I'm 29, I didn't feel old. "Amir just came and fought a very good fight, very busy, a lot of angles. He kept me at distance. "When I turned pro I had a very similar style to Amir and I ran into a clone of myself, he was stronger, bigger and faster. "He was very busy, I couldn't keep up with him I guess, I couldn't get the distance right. "He had that youthful enthusiasm, he stayed busy, he wanted it and I give him a lot of credit."

* PA Sport