WBA welterweight titleholder Paulie Malignaggi said he has been formally contacted by Golden Boy officials regarding a potential June defense against promotional stablemate and unbeaten WBC lightweight beltholder Adrien “The Problem” Broner.
“[Golden Boy COO] David Itskowitch sent an e-mail to my team the other night and it said that it came from [Golden Boy CEO] Richard Schaefer about fighting Adrien Broner. I think that Adrien is a very talented guy, but it’s a very winnable fight for me,” said Malignaggi, 32, of Broner, who is coming off last month’s fifth-round stoppage of ex-beltholder Gavin Rees on HBO.
“Adrien is a guy who is getting a lot of hype and a lot of press, so a win over a guy like that would put me in a great spot. So it was brought up to do a fight with Broner at June 22 at Barclays Arena. Obviously, it’s a fight against a guy that people consider to be the future of the sport, yadda, yadda, yadda. So, havinig said that, ft Adrien wants to take a chance on a welterweight opponent like me and he’s that confident, then why not?”
Schaefer has informed RingTV.com that he has targeted Broner for a return to the ring on June 15, and that he expected for Malignaggi to be back in action on June 22 at Barclays Center on Showtime in Malignaggi’s native Brooklyn.
“The fact is that with Malignaggi, it looks like he’s going to fight in June, and that Adrien Broner is going to fight in June. I don’t know if there is a possibility for them or to have them fight each other,” said Schaefer.
“But there are other opportunities out there as well for Adrien. Adrien is quickly becoming the guy where everybody wants to fight him because he’s one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world and once you’re there, people want to fight you.”
And Malignaggi is indeed among them.
“I’m a competitor,” said Malignaggi. “We’ll get it on for the right price and under the right circumstances, being that it would be for the welterweight world title. I would fight him, absolutely.”
Malignaggi (32-4, 7 knockouts) has not lost since falling by 11th-round knockout as a junior welterweight against Amir Khan in a failed bid to earn the WBA’s 140-pound belt in May of 2010.
Malignaggi rose to welterweight, where he is stronger, hits harder, and is more energized, he says. His five-bout winning streak at 147 pounds incluces a ninth-round knockout of Vyacheslav Senchenko for his current belt in April of last year.
Malignaggi partially blamed extreme weight loss for his setback against Khan. Since then, however, Malignaggi has fought at 147 pounds, reeling off three straight victories over Michael Lozada, Jose Miguel Cotto and Orlando Lora before making a trip to the Ukraine to dethrone the larger, stronger and previously unbeaten Senchenko.
Malignaggi is coming off October’s Showtime-televised split-decision victory over Mexico City’s Pablo Cesar Cano at Barclays Center.
“I think that Broner is a great young talent, but I think there are weight classes in boxing for a reason. I don’t see how he’s going to fight the best opponent that he’s fought so far and also one who will be the biggest opponent that he’s fought so far at the same time. It will be a step up both in class and size, you know what I’m saying?” said Malignaggi.
“For him, it’s a shot at a welterweight title. I think that it’s a great shot for him. And there wouldn’t be any lack of trash-talking. I like Adrien, don’t get me wrong, but he’s fought pitiful competition. So he’s going to have a step up in class and a step up in weight. That’s two weights. I applaud the effort and I applaud the motivation and the drive, but I don’t know. I can’t see any way that Adrien Broner beats me.”
For Broner (26-0, 22 KOs), the win over Rees represented his sixth straight stoppage victory. Prior to facing Broner, Rees had gone 10-0-1 since a 12th-round stoppage loss to Andriy Kotelnyk which dethroned him as WBA junior welterweight titleholder in March of 2008.
Broner’s effort against Rees, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, delivered 1.4 million viewers, with viewership peaking at 1.551 million viewers during the final round of Broner’s triumph. The number was the highest-ever for Broner in seven appearances on HBO, out-performing November’s eighth-round knockout that dethroned Antonio DeMarco on HBO in his last fight.
Back in July of last year, Broner stopped Vicente Escobedo for the first time in his career, with the fifth-round knockout scoring a 3.4 rating on the telecast.
That number surpassed HBO’s tape-delayed re-broadcast of Tim Bradley’s controversial split-decision over Manny Pacquiao in June of last year, as well as Danny Garcia’s upset fourth-round knockout of Khan in July of last year.
With the Escobedo fight’s number ranking as HBO’s top Boxing After Dark telecast out of the nine of 2012, it appears that the Broner may well be on his way to taking over boxing as he has vowed.
Broner was ringside at the Joint at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for this past Saturday night’s unanimous decision victory by WBA lightweight beltholder Richard Abril over previously unbeaten Sharif “The Lion” Bogere, and Malignaggi worked as Showtime’s ringside commentator for Abril-Bogere.
“I didn’t see Broner. I saw where he was standing, but I was doing the telecast, and then, he left before the telecast was over,” said Malignaggi.
“They contacted me, though, about the possibility of fighting Broner. It was in that e-mail that I was contacted about the possibility of a Broner fight.”
Malignaggi has, however, been mandated to face hard-hitting, interim beltholder, Diego Chaves (22-0, 18 KOs). Malignaggi and his attorney, Steve Bash, have mentioned the possibility that a defense against Chaves or former WBC 130-pound and lightweight beltholder Humberto Soto could happen in Abu Dhabi.
“I have to make the final decision on Abu Dhabi first, but I told Richard that if I the fight in Abu Dhabi doesn’t work out then I’ll take the fight with Broner. Of course, he’d have to come to 147. But I’ve got to figure out Abu Dhabi first. That’s my first priority,” said Malignaggi.
“There is still no progress, but in the coming days, these guys from Abu Dhabi are going to call directly to either David Itskkwitch or they’re going to contact Richard Schaefer. So maybe tomorrow we’ll have an answer. But a fight between me and Broner has been mentioned pretty strongly if Abu Dhabi falls apart.”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]