Amir Khan has been warned by trainer Freddie Roach to expect a trickier WBA light-welterweight title challenge from Paulie Malignaggi tomorrow night than Dmitriy Salita gave him last December.
Khan (22-1, 16 KOs) makes the second defence of his WBA belt at Madison Square Garden against New Yorker Malignaggi (27-3, 5 KOs), and though Roach is backing his man to win, he is not expecting the former IBF champion at 140 pounds to be as accommodating as Salita was in Newcastle five months ago.
Khan wasted little time dispatching the Ukrainian-born American Salita, flooring him after just 10 seconds of the fight and then sending him to the canvas twice more before the fight was stopped after 76 seconds.
"Salita was more one dimensional but Paulie brings a different style to the table," Roach said. "He's unpredictable and awkward so we have a couple of plans to try and nullify that but overall I think we're just bigger, faster and stronger than he is and we can do everything that he does better."
Malignaggi has only been stopped once in his 30-fight career, only Ricky Hatton having dispensed with the scorecards when they met in Las Vegas in November 2008. Yet Roach believes Khan can nullify the slick American's impact on the fight.
"The thing is, we have to control the ring," Roach said. "We're really working on how to make that ring smaller. How to make his presence always in front of him. Not always in striking distance but always pressuring right in front of him without really exerting yourself.
"That's with footwork, cutting the ring off, not following him and setting traps for him, putting him against the ropes and in corners and trying to nullify his movement because he does have good movement and he can run."
While Malignaggi's lack of punching power is borne out by his record of just five of his 27 victories coming via knockout, Roach also warned against any complacency arising from that statistic.
"You can't be foolish and just walk into one.If you get caught, anyone can go.
"I thought about being aggressive and just walking right through him but it's probably not the best way to go about it.
"Let's go about it more scientifically and smarter, let's move and work.
"Amir knows how to beat this guy and Paulie is what he is. He's a little bit elusive, that's the problem.He can be a little hard to find at times but the way we've designed to cut the ring off for him, make the ring smaller, control it and have ring generalship, which is kind of a lost art but Amir knows how to do it very well."