Tuesday, March 28, 2023  |


Paul Malignaggi views the sunset of his career

Photo courtesy of Paul Malignaggi's Twitter account
Fighters Network

We’ve heard Paulie Malignaggi’s dulcet tones as recently as last Saturday as a color commentator for Showtime but it’s been several months since we last saw him box.

Malignaggi (36-7, 7 knockouts) has fought just once this year, outpointing Gabriel Bracero over 10 rounds in the “Battle of Brooklyn” over the summer. He is currently mulling over two options.

“I’ve got some things on the table. I’m not sure which direction we’re going to go in,” Malignaggi told RingTV.com exclusively earlier on Tuesday at the WBC Convention in Florida. “I have (WBA titleholder) Ricky Burns at junior welterweight. I’m trying to make up my mind how much can I suffer to make weight and can I make this weight if I suffer?

“It’s a world title fight. At 36, I don’t know how many world title fights I’m going to be offered. I would love to be able to finish my career as a three-time world champion. The allure of that really has me considering it. Maybe in the South Beach (Florida) heat I can make that weight. I’m considering it.

“Obviously I have the EBU welterweight title (option); that’s something that’s always been calling me. Ceferino Rodriguez is here (at the WBC convention) and he’s the EBU welterweight champion.

“The EBU title is something I’ve always wanted to win. I’m from Italy; I have an Italian passport. I’m proud to be Italian and felt, if I won the EBU title, it would legitimize me to a lot of fans in Italy. (Promoter) Sampson Lewkowicz is trying to work something out to where it’s a possibility, so there’s a few things lurking in my orbit. We’ll see what direction we go in, if we can make some sort of a deal.”

The Burns fight is tentatively targeted for early April, while details of when a bout with Rodriguez would take place are less concrete.

The gregarious New Yorker hasn’t made 140 pounds since he lost to Amir Khan in May 2010. Getting down to that weight won’t be easy and Malignaggi is acutely aware of that.

“I’m thinking about it as I’m talking about it and I’m torn back and forth but it does feel good,” he explained. “Especially if I could get a fair shake in Scotland, unlike (lightweight contender Ray) Beltran; I would definitely like that opportunity. ‘Cause one thing I don’t want to do is end my career on a very disappointing situation where I won the fight but I lost. I don’t want to end my career on a Juan Diaz situation (in which Malignaggi lost their first bout by disputed decision in Aug. 2009 in Diaz’s hometown of Houston, Texas. Almost four months later, Malignaggi gained revenge via a wide unanimous decision in Chicago, Illinois) because that would really turn me off on the sport.”

Currently, Malignaggi says he weighs in around the 170-to-173-pound range.

“I’m pretty heavy. That’s usually my walk-around weight. I try to lose a bit before camp,” he said. “The way I look at it is January through March is boring anyway, especially in New York, I might as well come to Miami and train. I may as well kill those months doing something positive and productive instead of laying around waiting for winter to end, shoveling my car out of the snow (laughs). It may be worth my time; we’ll see.”

Next year will mark the 16th year of Malignaggi’s pro career. During the early years, people questioned his legitimacy as a fighter, believing he was more of a gimmick. He says he always knew he had the heart of a fighter and was a mix of flash and substance.

“I was a wise guy but I was a tough wise guy,” he said laughing. “People early on my career thought I was more worried that the hair gels, headbands and the eyebrows and they thought, ‘This guy is more worried about the way he looks than about the way he fights,’ but that wasn’t the case at all.

“I was just trying to build an image, while having fun, build this flamboyant image where people have fun with it. I’m not going to lie; the girls liked it too (laughs); I was well kept (laughs). Now the hair’s a little shorter, a little less of it, a little more wrinkles, a little more facial hair (laughs). Time’s good to nobody. I can’t say I regret it. I had fun. It was a good time. Honestly, it used to light that fire to perform. I used to hear things, ‘This guy’s just a flash in the pan.’ ‘He likes to worry about the stuff that doesn’t matter, the way he looks or the way he comes off but he can’t really fight.’ It motivates me. I’m going to try to look my best and flashiest and continue to win.

“I knew I had that toughness because I was fighting most of those fights with hurt hands anyway. I felt I had the character to remain calm under fire in those moments when your hands are broke or injured and you can’t show your hands are hurt and have that deft confidence and subtle quiet confidence because you can’t show any emotion to the injury. I already knew I had a lot of character even before people saw it in the (Miguel) Cotto fight (in June of 2006 for the WBO junior welterweight title). In those days, you saw the gruesome face against Cotto and you say it takes that now they can see it. When you hurt your hands, they can’t see the swelling. Unfortunately people don’t see it; they can’t relate to it, so it took the Cotto fight to prove I had that character. I knew I had that character. I would do things other fighters wouldn’t. I would know my hand was broken and still fight.”

Malignaggi openly admits, at this stage of his career, he knows he has a finite amount of fights left as a pro and didn’t expect to be fighting at 36 but won’t be looking to fight for too much longer.

However, with Donald Trump coming into office as the new President of the United States, that may afford Malignaggi a new opportunity.

“I wanted to retire at the end of 2016 but 2017 is (almost) here,” he said. “For all intents and purposes, the new President is going to lower taxes and that’s one of the reasons I liked him.

“If I’m going to bleed for my money, I’d rather keep most of my money (laughs). That was also one of the reasons I was angling towards not fighting in 2017 because I didn’t think he was going to win and if taxes went up I’m not going to continue to get hit in my face for my taxes to go up and bleed to give my money to somebody else. If I bleed, I’m going to bleed for me so that’s also another motivator. Maybe now I can look toward another fight if I can keep more of my money.

“I would be able to retire with a smile if I could pull off the third world title. It’s a risk with the weight and not making it and getting robbed and leaving the most sour taste ever in my mouth in this sport. If I have to retire after being robbed, that would leave the most bitter of tastes in my mouth. I would hate to retire on a bitter note.”



Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.



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