Artem Lobov will welcome Paulie Malignaggi to the world of bareknuckle boxing tonight as the pair engage in a grudge match in the BKFC 6 main-event.
We’ve compiled an easy guide of everything you will need to know ahead of tonight’s clash between the UFC veteran and the former world champion boxer which can be read here.
This fight gets a bad rap for a few understandable reasons.
For one, the name Paulie Malignaggi is one that has attracted quite a bit of annoyance to it in recent years among the MMA crowd – despite his role as a well-respected boxing analyst on the SHOWTIME network.
I don’t exactly feel like getting into the whole Conor McGregor thing too much but it is that, on top of the at times cringe-worthy back-and-forths between Artem and his adversary that have led to this fight being dismissed to a certain extent.
It’s fair enough. Nothing whatsoever will be solved by tonight’s showdown and I think it’s only right that we look at it as something of a fun, meaningless exhibition.
And that’s the thing, this fight is a whole lot of fun – a matchup that brings along far more x-factors and unknowns than many realise.
The boxer-versus-MMA fighter battle was one that played out over ten rounds on the biggest stage possible when Conor McGregor challenged the master pugilist Floyd Mayweather to a fight that we almost believed could have been competitive.
But this is not an MMA fighter jumping into the world of boxing. This is a middle-ground that offers far more advantages to Artem Lobov than the bookies are taking into account.
If this were to take place in his home sport, Paulie’s skills as a boxer, even after his inactivity, would be more than enough to see him toy with the comparatively rigid Russian Hammer from the first bell until the last but even in the boxing ring, Artem’s toughness and Malignaggi’s lack of any real punching power would be enough to extend this one further than it really had any right to go.
Bareknuckle fighting will force Paulie Malignaggi into some very unfamiliar territory.
The jump from fighting with the 4oz gloves used in MMA to bareknuckle is nowhere near as extreme as dropping those 10oz mits altogether.
Defensively speaking, Malignaggi is going to be forced to completely rethink his approach to covering up and as many have pointed out, when the time comes to attack, the now-famous issues he has had with his somewhat brittle hands will not be helped in the slightest by the lack of protection.
The famed Tristar coach Firas Zahabi said during his own breakdown that he wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Paulie were to break his hands on Artem’s chin – such is the difference in sturdiness here between the weapon and the target.
Lobov won’t get knocked out and in all honesty, given that Paulie will be fighting without gloves for the first time in his career, I think there’s a lot to be said for Artem’s chances of finding the target at least once.
On top of that, the clinch will be another huge asset for the SBG man.
Where in boxing the referee will break up any clinches within moments of it happening, something closer to the rules of MMA will apply here – meaning that Artem is going to have time to grab his opponent and make things ugly.
We saw how even Conor McGregor had a clear ability to manipulate Floyd Mayweather and take the back once things got all close and personal.
I’m genuinely picking Artem Lobov to spring the upset here. I think that Mayweather/McGregor has given people an idea of how this fight should look but at the end of the day, the differences between boxing and the action on offer at BKFC 6 will play a key part in this fight’s direction and I can see Artem’s toughness, power, and comfort with keeping his knuckles bare being enough to see him take this one home.
Prediction: Artem Lobov by fourth-round TKO
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena