Reached in New York on Monday afternoon, former IBF junior welterweight beltholder Paulie Malignaggi was a few hours from catching a flight from JFK airport to Milan, Italy, where he will resume training for his challenge to WBA welterweight titleholder Vyacheslav Senchenko at Donbass Arena, Donetsk in Senchenko’s native Ukraine this month.
Nicknamed “The Magic Man,” Malignaggi (30-4, 6 KOs) spoke confidently about returning to the United States as the new titleholder despite the fact that Senchenko (32-0, 21 KOs) is returning to the site of his last victory, a sixth-round knockout over Marco Antonio Avendano last August.
Malignaggi, who will face Senchenko on an Integrated Sports Media per-per-view show on April 29, is coming off a one-sided 10-round unanimous decision over Orlando Lora last October — his third straight welterweight victory since being stopped in the 11th round by Amir Khan as a junior welterweight in May of 2010.
Malignaggi shared his thoughts about Senchenko in this Q&A.
RingTV.com: So how are you feeling about your fight?
Paulie Malignaggi: I’m driving to the airport. I’m going to JFK. I’m feeling really good. Camp’s been good. I’ve gotten some great sparring.
I’m looking forward to the next few days of camp, and the closing phases in Milan, you know? But I feel good. I’m actually just getting pumped up.
The rush of leaving and packing up and getting there, I just can’t wait to get on to the airplane. I can’t wait to get there and to resume training, you know?
But I’m in New York now, and I’m flying out of JFK. I’ll be there tomorrow morning at 7:30 Italy time.
RingTV.com: How much of your strategy can you discuss?
PM: Yeah, we definitely have a strategy for the fight. I think that people are going to be surprised. I think that the fight is going to be entertaining.
I can’t really give you all of what I’m going to do or give you the complete outline of what’s going to take place. I’ll be glad to discuss it with you once the fight is over.
I’ll tell you the thinking behind the strategy and all of that stuff. The science of it. Everything behind the strategy and why we did what we did in the fight and what have you.
RingTV.com: What can you tell us?
PM: Well, I will tell you that I’m really a believer in the strategy that we have in place. We’ve been working on it and it’s been working really well. I really, really do not expect to lose this fight. I really don’t.
I don’t expect that this guy can handle what we’re going to do. I really think that this guy is going to have a lot of problems with what I’m going to bring to the table.
I will be shocked if he doesn’t. I’ll be able to make adjustments and I don’t think that he’ll be able to in any way. Let me put it to you this way: I just really, really can’t see this guy doing anything with what I’m bringing.
RingTV.com: Barring anything with the judges, or any intangibles, you really do not expect to lose?
PM: There are fights that I blame myself, and then, there are fights that I will blame on other cirbumstances, you know? But it is what it is. There are sometimes things that you could have handled differently.
And then, there are times where it comes down to things that were not in your control and there are times where you allow certain things to happen that should not have.
It is what it is, but like I said, I’m putting it to you this way: This guy can’t beat me. This guy can not beat me. But from what I’m seeing on the internet, everybody else seems to think otherwise.
But I’m looking forward to the fight. I’ve got experience and I’ve got a great team around me. I’ve never had a team as solid as this one around me before.
The team is a big thing. I wish that I had the team around me that I have now when I was 22 or 23, you know? I’ve got my trainer, Eric Brown, and Golden Boy Promotions.
I’ve got my manager, Anthony Catanzaro, and Steve Bash, my attorney, who drives me a little crazy, but who is there for me. I’ve got a team around me that has my back 100 percent.
Photos by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]