Malignaggi likely to take a soft opponent for first defense of WBA strap
By Dan Ambrose: 31-year-old former IBF 140 pound champion Paulie Malignaggi (31-4, 7 KO’s) did a good job of stopping a robotic WBA World welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko (32-1, 21 KO’s) in the 9th round on Sunday night to claim the World Boxing Association 147 pound title in Donetsk, Ukraine.
However, Malignaggi is likely going to take a soft first defense of the belt when he defends the title for the first time later on in the year.
Although boxing fans would no doubt love to see Malignaggi take on top contenders like Kell Brook, Devon Alexander, and Thomas Dulorme, the chances of Malignaggi fighting any of them are slim and none. More likely, Malingaggi will face a bottom tier contender like Dmitry Salita, #15 WBA, Sebastian Lujan, #14 WBA, Kevin Bizier, #13 WBA, Rafal Jackiwicz, #11 WBA or Matthew Hatton, #10 WBA. My guess is Hatton gets the call, because he’s the most recognizable of the bottom tier fringe contenders because of his famous brother Ricky Hatton.
I’d like nothing more than to see Malignaggi step it up against the likes of Alexander, Dulorme and Brook, it’s probably not going to happen. I see Malignaggi being dragged kicking and screaming into a title defense against one of those guys. What we’re probably going to see is a soft tough for the first defense and then a hard push by Golden Boy Promotions, the promoters for Malingaggi, to try and bypass a mandatory defense against one of the dangerous contenders by looking to get a unification bout against WBC champ Floyd Mayweather Jr. or WBO champion Manny Pacquiao.
Unfortunately, the only realistic option will be Mayweather, because Pacquiao fights for Top Rank, and a fight between the Golden Boy promoted Malignaggi and Pacquiao just isn’t going to happen anytime soon. I think it would be a great fight for Pacquiao and Top Rank, because they could pick up an easy title against a fairly popular fighter in Malignaggi. Pacquiao could win it without taking any punishment and have another title to add to his collection. But you know and I know that it’s probably not going to happen unless Bob Arum sees some kind of plus in Pacquiao picking up the WBA strap.
Mayweather has been cool to the idea of fighting Malignaggi in the past, largely because there was not much upside because he’d already been exposed by Amir Khan, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto. There would be no real excitement in a Mayweather-Malignaggi fight because it would be such a huge mismatch because of how much better Mayweather is compared to the light hitting Malignaggi.