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Zahabi: Everybody’s ‘grossly underestimating’ Lobov, bout with Malignaggi is ‘very tough to call’

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Firas Zahabi says Artem Lobov has a very good chance of winning.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Gdansk-Lobov vs Fili Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Paulie Malignaggi will fight Artem Lobov in a bare knuckle boxing match, and the former boxing champ is likely going to be a big favorite over the MMA brawler. Firas Zahabi disagrees with what many in the industry are saying though, with the renowned MMA coach making his case for why it will be a lot closer than what people think.

“I think that everybody is grossly underestimating Artem Lobov,” Zahabi explained on his YouTube channel. “These are all points I think are gonna give Artem Lobov a very good fighting chance.”

“One, Paulie Malignaggi is not a KO puncher. He’s not a hard puncher,” he said. “Two, Artem has a head like a brick. He’s got a great chin. He’s very rubust. He’s gonna keep moving forward.

“Three, He’s got brittle hands. Paulie’s very likely gonna break his hands,” he said. “Artem has been fighting with MMA gloves, 4 oz gloves, his entire career. His hands are far more resistant, far more robust and far more trustworthy in a bareknuckle fight, in my opinion, than Paulie’s hands. If Paulie’s a better boxer, it won’t matter if his hands are broken.

“Next. I think the pace of the fight is gonna be in Artem Lobov’s favor. The pace of the fight is going to be very anaerobic. Artem’s gonna jump on him. He’s gonna make it into a sprint and Paulie might be surprised about that. Paulie does not have 12 rounds to hide behind a jab. He does not have 12 rounds to sneak in a body shot, wait for Artem to slow down, and then kind of pick him apart,” he said.

“Lastly, I think there’s gonna be some clinching in this fight,” he said. “Artem is just going to pick him up and slam him, and throw him on the ground. Artem has nothing to lose. If Artem trips him, tosses him on his head ... he’s just going to get a warning from a ref.

“Those are my arguments for why Artem Lobov is gonna put up a great fight. I think this fight is very very tough to call.”

I disagree with most of Zahabi’s arguments, as I think Paulie has faced bigger punchers, with far better technique. I think they will be on completely different levels that the pace, amount of rounds, and Paulie’s lack of punching power (against elite boxers) won’t matter as much.

At the end of the day though, we’re both picking the same fighter. While he believes it’s a much closer bout, Zahabi’s still thinks Malignaggi will get the win, as long as he fights smart and doesn’t let the pre-fight antics get to his head.

“If it’s a brawl, I’m picking Artem. If it’s a clean boxing match, I’m picking Malignaggi,” Zahabi said. “If Paulie Malignaggi comes in there like a hot head, and lacks discipline, he can lose.

“I’m ultimately picking Paulie to win, but I listen to his interviews, and he scares me,” he said. “He makes me think that this guy is either a great actor, or they really got under his skin and he’s going to forget everything he knows that night and he’s just gonna brawl.

“Paulie, he carries himself with class, however, when it comes to SBG, he loses it all. I think it’s because they’re under his skin.”