Well-known mixed martial arts coach Firas Zahabi believes Artem Lobov is being underestimated ahead of his bare-knuckle scrap with Paulie Malignaggi.
On June 22, Lobov and Malignaggi will collide in the main event of BKFC 6. It’ll be Lobov’s second bare-knuckle bout and Malignaggi’s first. Malignaggi is the favorite going into the bout due to his credentials as a former boxing champion.
Zahabi Talks Lobov’s Chances Against Malignaggi
Zahabi took to his YouTube channel to post a video discussing the June clash. He explained why Lobov should be taken as a serious threat to Malignaggi (via Bloody Elbow):
“I think that everybody is grossly underestimating Artem Lobov. 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. Two, Artem has a head like a brick. He’s got a great chin. He’s very robust. He’s gonna keep moving forward. Three, He’s got brittle hands. Paulie’s very likely gonna break his hands. 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.
“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.”
Lobov and Malignaggi have been involved in a heated feud stemming from an Aug. 2017 sparring session. Malignaggi helped Conor McGregor prepare for Floyd Mayweather, but things turned sour when footage was released of “The Magic Man” being knocked down by McGregor. Before the video was aired out, images of the sparring session made Malignaggi look less than stellar. Since that time, Malignaggi has taken aim at McGregor, his team, and even the MMA community.