With the big July 29 welterweight unification fight between Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford less than two weeks away, everybody seems to be forming theories as to who may emerge victorious.
Former two-division world champ Paulie Malignaggi is one of those looking forward to the mega-fight and offering his own take on who may walk away the winner.
“I think Errol’s too big, and the natural size is going to be a bit too much for Terence to deal with,” Malignaggi told the World Combat Sports YouTube channel.
“Terence isn’t offended by it. He likes that kind of stuff. He likes to prove people like me wrong. You go out there, put on a good show, and we’ll see how it plays out.”
“I think Terence is more versatile, and he’s actually my number one guy on the pound-for-pound list. It’s one of those interesting things. Head to head, I think Errol wins the fight, but I think Terence is the more complete fighter.
“But at welterweight, I think Spence will cause a pace and physicality to the fight that the smaller guy will be worn down by. Errol is just a little bit too big, and combined with the physicality, it will be a little bit too much for Terence to deal with.”
But there are plenty of “ifs and buts” in the former Showtime analyst’s prediction.
“The question is can Terence switching from righty to lefty slow down the pace just enough? Not because Errol will get tired, but sometimes you get confused, and you kind of pause your pressure a little bit,” Malignaggi added.
“Can you confuse Errol just enough to give yourself enough breaks just to give yourself advantages so you can go into the later rounds with enough energy to hold off Errol and beat him?
“Will Errol’s pressure nonstop, making it physical on the inside with body punching that wears you out to where all that versatility doesn’t matter? Once you get fatigued, you’re going to get beat up. That’s the questions that are up in the air.”
One of those “ifs and buts,” for Paulie, revolves around Spence’s past injuries and inactivity.
“In general, it’s something to consider the way that Errol was in an accident and the detached retina and some things that have happened outside of the ring. Him not being busy. He hasn’t fought since the Ugas fight, whereas Terence at least had the Avanesyan fight in December,” Malignaggi said. “It could be a little bit of ring rust, and at this age, it could affect you a little bit more. “
Ultimately, though, Malignaggi sees size as the determining factor in this bout.
“Errol has been fighting at welterweight since the amateurs. So your body fills in and gets bigger,” Paulie said.
“Just because you’re fighting at the same weight, it doesn’t mean you walk around at the same weight. So, he’s [Spence] probably having to drop a lot more weight than he used to.
“I’ve been hearing about Errol moving up in weight for years now. The guy can’t hold the weight, but he’s found ways regardless. It’s certainly not something that you put into the pot. That part, you can’t predict.
“I hope he doesn’t miss weight. Hopefully, everything ends well for everybody else. I feel like, Errol, with that kind of physicality, you get a late stoppage.
“He’s [Crawford] a good body puncher as well and a sneaky body puncher. Remember, he knocked out Indongo with a body shot.
“But again, the consistency combined with the physicality of Errol for me, and he’s a natural welterweight. Terence was winning world titles at lightweight. So, I feel like a naturally bigger guy is going to be a bit stronger.
At the end of the day, Malignaggi insists that he’s not pulling for anybody. On July 29, he’ll be sitting back and enjoying the fight as a fan of both men.
“I’m not rooting for anybody. I’m just watching the fight. I’m giving you a prediction, but I’m not sitting here rooting for my prediction.
“I’m going to sit back and watch the fight between two guys I’m a fan of, and hopefully, the best guy wins.”