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5 Jun, 2019 11:39

Artem Lobov's 'A+' toughness will pose real problems for Paulie Malignaggi, says coach Firas Zahabi

Paulie Malignaggi and Artem Lobov

World-renowned martial arts coach Firas Zahabi says former UFC fighter Artem Lobov's sheer toughness will give him a real chance of victory against "brittle" handed former boxing world champ Paulie Malignaggi at BKFC 6.

The pair - who engaged in a heated exchange during an ill-tempered press conference two weeks ago - will meet in a hotly-anticipated bare-knuckle matchup in Tampa, Florida on June 22.

READ MORE: 'I'm gonna p*ss in your toothless mouth': Malignaggi spits at Lobov at expletive-laden presser

While former two-weight world champion Malignaggi undoubtedly carries a host of pro boxing experience, Zahabi - head of Montreal's Tristar Gym and longtime head coach to UFC legend Georges St-Pierre - feels that Lobov's durability will give him a real chance on fight night.

Firas Zahabi with UFC legend Georges St-Pierre

"This one to me is one of those bizarre matchups where I really don't know what's going to happen," he admitted to host Robin Black on RT Fight Talk.

"I feel that anything can happen - literally anything can happen - and that's why I'm interested in this fight. I'm definitely going to watch."

Malignaggi is renowned for his quick hands and boxing acumen, but not his punch power - the American has a pro boxing record of 36-8, with just seven of those victories coming by stoppage.

And after recently rewatching Malignaggi's defeat to Ricky Hatton in 2008, Zahabi said he saw something concerning.

"I was watching his Ricky Hatton fight and I was like 'for sure [Malignaggi's] broken his right hand, he hasn't thrown it in three rounds,'" he said.

"If someone's not throwing their power shot, it's because their hand is hurt, it's brittle.

Ricky Hatton vs Paulie Malignaggi, 2008

"Not only does he not have a history of knocking people out, he also has very, very brittle hands.

"However, when you hear Malignaggi talk he talks like how he's going to beat Artem really easily. But, in my opinion, there's a lot that can go wrong for Paulie in this fight."

Zahabi said that the combination of Malignaggi's lack of KO power coupled with his potentially brittle hands, could put him in trouble against 'The Russian Hammer', whose toughness is well known.


"Artem has a head like a brick and he has a heart like a lion. He's not going to go away," said Zahabi.

"The likelihood of you breaking your hand on his head is very high. And Artem's hands, in my opinion, will not break - they're very robust. And even if they do, he won't stop punching.

"When it comes to toughness, we've got to give Artem an A-plus. And it's going to be a problem for Paulie Malignaggi."