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Cross section of boxing people share feelings on Showtime split with Malignaggi

06
Aug

The dust has settled, at least until Paul Malignaggi decides the time is right to kick it up again.

He will, at some point, in some fashion, it’s in his DNA.

One week ago, we learned that Brooklyn-bred fighter Paul Malignaggi, who turns 40 in November, had been let go by the premium cable platform Showtime. The dismissal stemmed from an interview he did around April 22, with IFL, a video news site based in England.

The remarks made in that session sort of slid under radar, but then George Floyd got choked lifeless by a cop in Minnesota, and America, as a whole, got a wakeup call about just how messed up our collective national racial dynamic still is. Showtime started hearing more from people who’d heard the interview, and took issue, hard, with portions of Malignaggi’s viewpoints in the realm of racial politics within boxing.



Devin Haney got kid gloves treatment after he used language that many termed insensitive, at best, racist at worst, Malignaggi stated. And, Paulie even noted several times in his back and forth with the reporter, Umar Ahmed, that best practice is to steer away from discussing race in the context of the fight game…but his candid nature directed him to ignore his own directive.

Showtime, it is said, asked Paulie to apologize, make a public apology, for saying things like,“I don’t know if Devin got the memo, but it’s no longer the time of the African-American anymore in boxing. It’s no more the time of the African-American in boxing, it’s the Eastern European that’s become the dominant species in boxing.”

And part of an apology would have had to acknowledge Malignaggi saying this, when asked to directly address Haney saying that a white guy would never beat him. “Of course, of course, that’s why I kind of try not to join into the race conversations. This is one of the exact examples why I don’t believe there is racial oppression in 2020 in this century, I believe there has been, sure, but I don’t believe there’s racial oppression today, I believe it’s all made up. And I believe it’s exaggerrated.”

The ex fighter seems to be digging in his heels. Will he give his side of the firing anytime soon? And will he land a job at another boxing platform, in the US?

Showtime heard from no small number of people who thought that someone repping their company shouldn’t be telling an interviewer that racial oppression is a fake news hoax. “And this is exactly one of the reasons why, the fact that a black fighter can say that, and not pay any price financially…but if a white fighter said that about a black fighter, or any black fighters at all, he’d probably lose his TV contract, and probably TV networks wouldn’t touch him. So, I won’t tell you that it’s a double standard, but I’ll tell you that the whole hypotheses of racial oppression is way above and exaggerated in this century,” Malignaggi told Ahmed, who, coincidentally, earlier in the year dealt with blowback regarding his usage of insensitive language on a public forum. Those remarks, combined with a history of off air displays, like his beefing with Adrien Broner before their fight that seemed to cross lines, in a sport that allows for big leeway in pre-fight hype wars.

Some felt the line got crossed before this 2013 fight, when the banter strayed far from boxing matters, and into the personal. But, let’s point this out, boxing is an extreme sport, so things that other sports don’t tolerate, people in pugilism do. It’s a fine line…

Now, many people who weighed in on the firing don’t believe the fighter whose last fight as pro came in 2017, and holds a 36-8 record, crossed a line in the IFL talk. But, others say, there’s a list of items that Showtime could point to if they so choose.

His January 2019 blast at Conor McGregor to Behind the Gloves was figuratively added to his personnel file.

“I’m starting to really think (McGregor) has a thing for me, it’s kind of a weird vibe I’m getting from him,” Malignaggi said to Michelle Phelps. “Why do you want me to think about you so much when I don’t need to think about you? Why am I still on your mind?” He said Conor should post their whole sparring video, and then people could make up their mind about their competition, and then the matter can be closed.

“This is not homophobic or anything but I’m starting to feel like it’s a weird…and we’re in 2018, so this is not homophobic or anything, but I’m starting to feel like it’s a weird, like, gay thing. As a man I have my rights and I don’t like another man coming on to me like that…I don’t go that way and I have the right to be a straight man if I want to be. I don’t feel like I want to go that way but I feel like he wants me on his mind.” He tells the reporter, “I have rights to tell you (McGregor), please leave me alone, don’t sexually harass me this way.”

And he adds a line that I don’t want to print because I think it might go over the line on a site that isn’t prissy, and understands that some of the language found within the confines of this savage sport is bright blue.

That video posted on January 17, 2019 and it’s been viewed almost 250,000 times.

Yes, it can be argued, hey, it’s 2020, Woods, any pub is good pub.

That stance has merit, these are different times, “negative” publicity is now seen by some as better than “good” publicity, because you can position yourself to snag rooters and also move haters into paying attention to you.

Yes, it can be argued. And in that vein, I put the word out. I asked a bunch of folks in the boxing community to weigh in, and share with me their take on the Malignaggi whacking by Showtime.

Doug Fischer, editor in chief of RING, furnished me his POV on the move by Showtime to cut the chord with the talented analyst.

“I don’t agree with much of Malignaggi’s political views or his PED allegations directed at Manny Pacquiao (and pretty much every pro boxer not named Floyd Mayweather Jr.), but Paulie’s personal opinions have nothing to do with his boxing commentary, which is top notch,” Fischer told me.

“He’s among the best former pro boxers to serve as analyst commentators for boxing broadcasts I’ve ever heard. That’s why he was part of Showtime’s team and that’s part of the reason why Showtime’s boxing broadcast booth is viewed by many as the best in the business. Rather than demand an apology from Malignaggi I think the network and boxing community would have been better served if he was given an opportunity to expound on his statements on air with input from Showtime’s other broadcasters, but maybe the decision to let him go came from the owners of the network. And maybe there was more to the decision than some controversial comments made to a British boxing YouTube channel. In the context of the interview, I didn’t have much problem with what Malignaggi was saying. He was asked to comment on Devin Haney’s controversial statement in regard to a potential fight with Vasiliy Lomachenko: “I will never lose to a white boy in my life.” And Malignaggi was basically saying, there are a lot of world-class and elite boxers — including in Haney’s weight class (lightweight), some of whom have the ability to beat Haney — in the sport right now. The way he said it was bound to trigger a lot of people.

“It’s no longer the time of the African American anymore in boxing. It’s the Eastern European that’s become the dominant species.” Yeah, that’s going to trigger folks. That’s going to spark some debate, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It should be OK to agree or disagree with a statement like that. I don’t think anyone should be fired because of it.

I don’t think Paulie was wrong when he said past eras/decades of the sport were dominated by certain ethnic demographics — Americans of Irish, Jewish, Italian and African descent — it’s just the that way he said it was a bit of a generalization. Saying “dominant species” repeatedly didn’t help.

But, again, he’s not lying or being racist when he says the “sport is saturated by Eastern Europeans, former Soviet Union fighters, that are dominating the landscape, and I think they’ll continue to do so.” Is he? Look at The Ring’s Pound for Pound rankings. We’ve got Lomachenko, Usyk, Golovkin and Beterbiev. The top three light heavyweights in Ring’s rankings are Russian. We’re all excited about Derevyanchenko challenging Jermall Charlo, right? That’s because we know he’s a badass.

And I can tell you from personal observations from the many gyms here in Southern California, there are dozens of talented, hungry and hard-working boxers from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and other Eastern European/Central Asian regions of the world that most fans haven’t even heard about. But they will eventually.

I’d have no problem saying that in an interview or on a Showtime broadcast. Should Malignaggi be “cancelled” because he said so in his own way?

I don’t expect Malignaggi to be politically correct when he’s not on a Showtime telecast. And even apart from Showtime telecasts, I don’t expect him to be politically or historically correct or particularly eloquent when discussing boxing or non-boxing subjects. Paulie was reportedly expelled from high school for ditching class when he was 15 or 16 years old. The man is not going to articulate subjects on race, class and diversity as well as Malcolm Gladwell. If erudite and educated is what Showtime (or Viacom) wants on boxing broadcasts — and also representing the company when off the air — maybe they should look into to getting someone like Thomas Hauser to serve as color commentator.

Personally, I wasn’t offended by anything Paulie said during the iFL TV interview. I don’t agree at all with his comment: “I don’t believe there’s any racial oppression in 2020, I believe it’s all made up and exaggerated.” However, in the context of that interview, it came after the interviewer asked how the public would react to a white fighter saying a “black boy will never beat me.” So, Paulie said that as his way of saying there’s a double standard when it comes to controversial racial comments made by public figures depending on their race.

Again, I don’t agree with that particular statement, but I think context matters in this case.”

Joe Santoliquito is president of the Boxing Writers Association of America; here is his analysis of the dissolution of the Malignaggi-Showtime marriage.

“Before I say anything, let me preface it by saying I think the world of Paulie Malignaggi, and I’ve been with him many times in social situations,” Santoliquito said. “He speaks his mind, but I can personally attest he’s not racist. Nor do I think the folks at Showtime believe he’s a racist person. But, he’s said some controversial, inflammatory things that made people feel uncomfortable. Knowing Paulie, it wasn’t his intention. I also know Paulie’s been told numerous times by Showtime management to watch what he says publicly and to curb some of his behavior, especially when it involved Conor McGregor, Dana White and the UFC. It finally caught up to him. I understand why Showtime did not renew his contract. What made Paulie special in the ring was his audacity. He was feather-fisted kid from Bensonhurst who fought monsters and never backed down. We loved Paulie on the air for his guarded audacity. In the end, sometimes it’s difficult to separate the fighter from the man. The fighter in Paulie will always be a part of him, wanting to break out, wanting to be heard. In the end, CBS, Viacom and Stephen Espinoza have a very valuable, important brand to protect. That’s difficult to separate, too, when it comes to a friend, which I know everybody at Showtime was to Paulie. I hope the best for Paulie moving forward, and I know Stephen Espinoza will find the right person to fill Paulie’s spot.”

Ste Turton lives in London, and Paulie has a large fan base in England. The New Yorker has done commentary for several years for Sky Sports. I asked Turton for his view on the subject.

“As a UK fight fan Paulie always brings a level of balance and reason to broadcasts, never tip-toeing the Matchroom company line that so many of his British co-workers happily walk in order to secure future Sky Sports gigs,” Turton told me. “Even the pockets of British boxing’s community who find Malignaggi’s delivery, at times, annoying or a little over-excitable, still credit his insight and ability to call it how he sees it. Especially when he’s taking on the house fighter narrative, as he so often is.  The latest development in Malignaggi’s media career is both a shock and a head scratcher. When it comes to sensibilities, I tend to err on the side of not deciding what should or shouldn’t offend a person. That said, off the bat I wondered what exactly has the Magic Man said to warrant dismissal?

`Never losing to a white boy’ is not the best comment a high profile fighter like Devin Haney should be making. It’s an old line used through the ages by various black fighters, with everyone from Ali to B-Hop having tossed it to a journalist in the hope of some extra column inches or PPV buys. For Haney, in the 21st century, in the current climate, it’s probably not a great look.

“For Paulie to be let go of his commentary duties on the back of his – in my opinion – measured and historically accurate response, seems a complete and utter error of judgement by Showtime’s upper management. I don’t know Paulie Malignaggi personally. I don’t know his political stance or current emotions living in a country grappling with its identity. Is there more to the story? Possibly? Has the use of ‘species’ in relation to different races of fighters been taken offensively? Maybe.

From across the pond, however, working with just Malignaggi’s words from the interview officially responsible for his axing, I can’t help but think he’s been a victim of a trigger happy cancel culture or created an enemy up the chain who’s been waiting to pounce at the first given chance.

Paulie’s not everyone’s cup of tea, even over here. But he’s one of the absolute best at avoiding agendas while delivering his takes, no matter what nationality, gender or race the fighter he’s assessing happens to be.”

And let me add, this addendum is crucial. The next day, after sending me the above bit, Turton emailed me an add-on:

“Might have been a different vibe from my comments if I’d seen this part of the interview, Woodsy…

This is one of the exact examples why I don’t believe there is racial oppression in 2020 in this century, I believe there has been, sure, but I don’t believe there’s racial oppression today, I believe it’s all made up. And I believe it’s exaggerrated.’ Damn. That seems pretty naive and uniformed from Paulie. And surprising, from a guy of immigrant heritage.”

If a Turton read an account of the dismissal that didn’t include the “oppression” lines, then, quite possibly, he maybe missed a crucial element of the debate. And too often, we media, we fail readers and listeners, by trying to be first, instead of seeking to be thorough above anything else. And as consumers of “news,” who then share our analysis in a Twitter ‘hot take,’ how often do I weigh in after seeing a ten second video clip which leaves out 50 seconds of context that may well change the gravity of the message in the clip? Too damned often. Read on, here is the reaction from David Phillips, who writes boxing at NYFights.com, and isn’t afraid to share his thoughts on racial matters, in the fight game, and wider world.

“The fact that Paulie Malinaggi got fired for shooting off at the mouth is not shocking,” Phillips told me. “Malinaggi, for all his well-chronicled skill at calling fights, has seldom known when to stop talking—whether he’s being paid to do it or not. So, while the idea that he would step in it is no real surprise… the fact that there were actual consequences for his latest example of hoof-in-mouth disease is. To be honest, while Malinaggi’s comments on race were wrongheaded at best (the reason the Irish dominated boxing over a century ago was in large part because black fighters weren’t given the chance to compete against white fighters), and the referencing of Eastern European fighters as the now “dominant species” is beyond offensive (Yo, Paulie, all us humans are the same species, dude!), if you allow yourself to squint really hard at his comments, you might be charitable enough to say: here is a guy trying to make a point that is simply beyond his grasp. It should also be said that he picked the absolute worst time to do it in the reckoning of Black Lives Matter, and his assertion that racial oppression in the United States is “exaggerated” is not only tone-deaf, but pretty damn stupid. It’s almost comical that in trying to (somewhat) gently chide Devin Haney for making insensitive comments, he actually managed to say some shit that sounds even worse. And, if reports are to be believed, a simple apology might have fixed this situation. Trouble is, Paulie ain’t the apologizing type, and it appears that hubris finally did him in with Showtime. What I’ve never understood is how his soon-to-be former employers over at Showtime never seemed to take issue with his relentless derogatory comments about women. He’s never hesitated to refer to women as “side-pieces” or worse. Once you get him started, misogynistic quips will flow from him like a monsoon. And look, I know some of this is just boxing machismo and all that other bullshit that sells fights. But the vitriol with which Malinaggi speaks of women seems to come from some deep and nasty place. Sadly, as obvious as it has always been, Showtime had no trouble looking past it. If you’re asking me if Paulie Malinaggi should be fired for what he said about the history of race in boxing, I would say, that’s fine—especially since he couldn’t even apologize or make an effort to clarify his comments (let’s face it, had he tried, he probably would have only made it worse). But the odd thing is, while the words that Malinaggi said were racist, I’m not certain he intended them to be (sometimes racists are the last to know they are racists). Now, all the horrible shit he has said about women over the years? That was no slip up. That I believe he meant. So, to quote a black man who was far wiser than I’ll ever be, the “chickens coming home to roost never made me sad; they always made me glad.”

Read Glen Sharp’s book —- and you can tell within a page or two this man is no dunce going through life in a state of blissful ignorance. He thinks about how to live. “To think there is no racial oppression in this country is not a matter of someone being ignorant, because the facts are so abundantly clear,” Sharp said. “It is a matter of someone being willfully stupid. Racial oppression was one of the founding principles of this county, and something we are still dealing with today. Showtime has the absolute right to dismiss an employee that reflects upon the network as Malignaggi’s comments do. Paulie is no rocket scientist, but he knew the storm his comments would create, so I have to think he said what he did on purpose, to create the effect he did. I do agree with Paulie that a black person could say what he did with no repercussions, but that is a much more complicated matter than one of a double standard.” (NOTE: Three hours after sharing this, Sharp came back to me, and explained why he used the word ‘stupid.’ His reasoning passed my sniff test.)

I consider Bruce Silverglade a friend, and believe the Gleason’s Gym boss to be a role model for how to act with class and dignity even when offered ample reason to do otherwise. “I just read several accounts of what Paulie said that got him into hot water with Showtime,” Silverglade said to me. “In my opinion Showtime should defend and support free speech in this country. I personally was not offended by Paulie’s comments, however, maybe some people were. But we are in America, the land of the free. Everyone, including Paulie should be able to speak their opinion without the PC police getting involved. Paulie is a successful and respected color commentator for boxing telecasts. He is popular because he speaks his mind and calls the action the way he sees it. I do not see why Showtime would all of a sudden be surprised by Paulie being honest and saying what he believes.”

Diego Morilla is copy editor of The Ring en Españo; here are some of his thoughts on the split. “As much as I am up for not being a bunch of politically correct sissies, I do believe Paulie crossed a line,” he said. “Being a loud-mouth fighter is one thing, being a “communicator” with such a powerful outlet is another. But I also believe this would have been a perfect time for Paulie to have a chance to ‘grow up on camera’ and have a serious live debate about the subject with his colleagues at Showtime, in the form of a special program or an open discussion. This is how most networks and media outlets are dealing with the current state of affairs: giving it more visibility, giving people more room to openly discuss things and to listen to each other. Only in this way could Paulie be expected to grow out of an upbringing that may have been influenced by the ideas and convictions of an immigrant community in which (as in almost every other of these communities) race and national pride often become the sources of misguided pride and antagonism.

“Paulie’s lack of sensitivity was compounded by the fact that the Caucasus (the place where most people believe, however erroneously, that white people were originated) is somewhere in the Eastern Europe-ish area. It already sounded bad enough when implied that white guys from former Soviet-bloc countries were the next big thing in boxing: if you add the Caucasian component it sounds even crappier. But the noisiest part to me is also the fact that, unlike Haney, Paulie will not have to back his claims in the ring, being retired and all. To me, anything goes in the realm of pre-fight psyche-out taunts. Anything other than properly spelled-out racial slurs is OK with me. Tex Cobb got away with worse things than this, and the Conor McGregor pimp-in-zoot-suit routine should have been enough to ban him for life from boxing. But Paulie seems to have missed the essential fact that he’s on a completely different job now, a job he was truly good at –and for which he needed to train for in a different way.  Checking out maps of Eastern Europe more often is only one of those ways.”

Randy Gordon has worn all the hats in boxing. Done some fighting, writing, talking, headed the NY athletic commission, done analysis on air…and he’s held down the fort with Gerry Cooney at Sirius for a decade talking pugilism. He has managed to be candid, but without stepping over that line for many moons, so his take on this matter was especially appreciated.

“To me, it seems that the words below are what cost Paulie Malignaggi his analyst position at Showtime, not the fact that he confronted the highly-inflammatory remarks made by Devin Haney, which, for the most part, were glossed over by the media,” Gordon said.

‘I try not to join in the race conversations. This is one of the exact examples of why I don’t believe there is racial oppression in 2020 or in this century. I believe there has been, sure, but I don’t believe there is racial oppression today. I believe its all made up and I believe that it is exaggerated.’

“My thought is that one of Malignaggi’s superiors at Showtime should have sat him down and discussed Malignaggi’s interview and his choice of words, rather than just having a suit at Viacom tell him to apologize. Perhaps they did, but it’s something we in the media are unaware of. It seems that, after a discussion, Malignaggi would have found it in himself to change his phraseology, just the way Haney, when pressed on the ugliness of his own statement, found a way to change it.

Note: The writer gets the sense that Paulie will not be soon dialing back or saying he’s sorry for his ‘oppression’ comments.

“There is no question the words of Devin Haney were inflammatory. The retaliatory words of Malignaggi served only to throw fuel on the fire. Haney changed his words, acknowledging they were wrong. It was his way of apologizing. There was only fuel from Malignaggi, followed by silence. In this racially-tense age, Viacom and Showtime were looking for help from Malignaggi in putting out the flames of hatred, not silence. Perhaps, after a cooling-off period, and perhaps an apology, or a Haney-like change of words, Malignaggi will be allowed back into his announcer’s seat at Showtime.”

Boxing lawyer Keith Sullivan is a frequent guests on Fox, and he’d not be caught dead wearing that Bernie Sanders 2016 shirt I have, or the “Elizabeth Warren 2020” tee that I own…but he and I can agree to not always agree when talking politics. Here is his view on that Showtime-Malignaggi news:

“This is not a First Amendment or ‘free-speech’ issue,” Sullivan said. “That is a Constitutional safeguard against the government, not a private employer such as Showtime. They can fire someone for something as mundane as the color of their shirt. Companies routinely assess employee comments and actions on whether they were morally reprehensible or socially unacceptable. Condoning such behavior would turn off viewers and hurt the financial sheets. Paulie’s comments were neither. Pick up any boxing history book and they’ll have dedicated sections to the Jewish, Italian, and Irish eras. The sport has often traced its roots to the ever-changing immigrant societies of the day. The bigger story to me is not that he was released from his duties, but that he stood behind his words and didn’t participate in the “cancel-culture” agenda when pressured to do so by his employer. That’s the courage we’ve come to expect from Paulie, a man who fought with a broken jaw, never backed up let alone quit in any fight. Many are arguing that Showtime’s actions are reprehensible and socially unacceptable. The beauty of American freedom is that it affords them the right to be wrong. It’s now up to the viewers, fighters and promoters to choose which side they support.”

I asked Michael Montero to give me his take. He does a podcast which you can hear on the RING website. In his latest pod, Montero told listeners/watchers that he thinks Paulie is THE BEST color commentator working today, in all fight sports. He said he talked to Paulie, and Malignaggi told him he would come on his show, but not at this time, because things are still playing out.

“For me it’s not about whether you agree with Paulie’s comments or if they offended you,” Montero told me. “It’s not about whether you like Paulie or dislike him. The issue is whether or not you support his right to express his opinions, whether mainstream or not. What is the threshold on free speech? Who deserves the right to dictate and maintain that threshold? This is dangerous territory. Many of the same people who laughed off Devin Haney’s racially-charged comments wanted Malignaggi’s head on a pike, and vice versa. Context matters. Nuance matters. Above all else, tolerance, acceptance and consistency matter.”

I had Montero’s pod on while I typed up his take. I liked how he reminded everyone that everyone missteps, and he’s felt like Paulie can be like any of us, and be hypocritical. Also, his call for people to be intellectually consistent. He also moved the story forward some, because he shared that from talking to Paulie, he learned that Paulie feels like PBC had a hand in his firing. Deontay Wilder has taken issue with Malignaggi’s takes before, and that came back to bite the Brooklyner, Montero said on his pod.

Marquis Johns is a good follow on Twitter, he knows his boxing and, to my reading, has a good handle on living in America circa 2020. “Paulie’s firing over something that all he had to do was apologize for makes me wonder if there wasn’t something underlying or if he just wanted “an out” from working with Showtime,” Johns said. “He tried to explain Haney’s comments, which he had to walk back by apologizing, and it ballooned into a conversation that if you were working at any job USA, you’d get reprimanded and/or canned for. If all he had to stay was make an apology for “his offensive actions and insensitive remarks” that we have heard ten million times over and take off a fight card, Paulie would’ve been back well in time on TV for Showtime by the Charlo double pay-per-view, if not sooner.”

Augustus Tyler is a former amateur fighter, and I dig his voice on Twitter. From that platform, I know he wouldn’t be shy when asked what he thought of this Paulie-Showtime split. “Listening to it now.,” he wrote me. “All I can say is WOW! Forget the spill about African-American fighters. The coment that racial oppression doesn’t exist in 2020!? That’s a reason to get fired. I like Paulie, always have as a fighter and commentator. Definitely has the personality for the camera and knowledge of the sport. Probably the best ex- fighter- commentator. Paulie has always been goaded into crazy behavior, it seems. To allow a 20 something kid’s comment allow you to lose your job, isn’t smart. Certain things you just can’t say when you represent a corporation.”

I go to Shawn Cameron often, because the ex fighter and military vet will not afraid to hit me with his truth. “I’m not sure how people took Paulie’s comments out of context,” the NY resident told me. “All people have to do is listen to the interview in its entirety, then form their own conclusion. Sadly, the current climate is filled with a lot of hotheads. Nobody takes time out to listen objectively. I agreed with most of what Paulie said. He was responding to Devin Haneys’ comments about “never losing to a white boy!” He stated that over time, different groups have dominated in some way or another, black fighters (Tyson, Jones, Whitaker, Mayweather) dominated at one time (80s and 90s) while it’s now in the hands of the Eastern Europeans. The only thing I disagreed with was him saying that racial oppression is nonexistent. Oh Paulie, It’s very real. Maybe the reason he doesn’t feel that it exists is because he isn’t the one who is dealing with it. He hasn’t experienced any so that could possibly be the reason that he just cannot relate.”

Jamel Herring, the Fighting Marine who holds a title belt at 130 pounds, has thought a good deal about the firing, and the interview as a whole: “I’m actually upset with the situation,” Herring told me. “I mean I can say I have mixed feelings because Paulie is a cool dude, and I really believed he was one of the best analysts out there. I’ve spoken to others on the topic, and they’ve had a mixed reaction as well. Judging from the interview many including myself didn’t really think it was geared so much towards race baiting, or whatever you may want to call it, but we have seen Paulie say some borderline issues involving race in the past. I personally have seen him go back and forth with Steve Cunningham, basically claiming racism is nonexistent in today’s America, and that rubbed a lot of people wrong, including myself during that point and time. If you ask me, I have feeling that Showtime maybe saw these red flags building up, and that could’ve been the last straw after that interview he did was released.”

My Three Cents: Malignaggi could have slid back into his seat, and the IFL chat would’ve faded away, rendered hazy by his undeniable analytical acumen, if not for the Floyd murder. Here’s a guess supported not by confirmation from persons in “the room where it happened” but from some decades of living and watching human nature, my own and of people who hold positions of higher power…In the weeks and days preceding the parting of the ways, tabulations were done by Malignaggi’s superiors and an uncomfortable truth emerged: There will be a next time, some version of it. And to a degree or another, it will detract from the mission of the department, and distract from the desired focus of programming, the athletes inside the squared circle. Irreverence can be forgiven in talent, but not so easily if ‘colorful’ behavior possibly threatens the harmony of the working environment.

This debate isn’t over. In the next three months, we will see a re-ignition of the sort we saw when people took to the streets after they saw the George Floyd video. And the lines that were drawn then will hold, probably. Some people will raise their voices and get heated about peoples’ conduct at protests, and destruction of property. They will not get as passionate when speaking about the next instance when an unarmed person of color gets detained, roughly, and says, “I can’t breathe” while a law enforcement officer has them in a choke hold, or another restraint tactic that leaves them unable to get oxygen. That is for them to grapple with, and explain why, or not.

Death. Taxes. Boxers always coming back for one last fight. And you can add this one–Paulie ain’t done on this subject, and there’ll be more race-themed examples of PD misconduct keeping the protest fires burning.

 

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