The talk is all on Broner, but what’s next for Paulie Malignaggi?
By James Connell: Amid all of the bluster, discussion and hype that has been floating around the boxing world after Adrien Broner’s appearance on Showtime last night during the Deontay Wilder undercard, I can’t help but be drawn back into thinking about his previous fight in New York against the then WBA Welterweight champion: Paulie Malignaggi.
Before I go on to talk about Malignaggi, let’s cast our minds back to that fight. I’ve seen a lot on twitter, and the web in general, claiming that fight as an unimpressive, but undoubted victory for Broner. I’m risking the chance of re-opening that wound here, but I personally scored it 115-113 in favour of Malignaggi.
Paulie was clearly the busier boxer, landing several hundred punches to Broner’s midrift. Now I understand the shoulder-roll, when executed correctly, eliminates maybe 80% per-cent of all body shots, but for me, I had Malignaggi landing far more than CompuBox credited him with: CompuBox, I remind you, had Malignaggi landing 214 punches at 25%, and Broner 246 at 47%. Watch that fight again, these figures are patently wrong. As Malignaggi said after the fight: Broner was busy in his spots, but he was lazy and had 30 seconds of dominance a round. That is not the performance of an away fighter, coming to the champion’s turf and snatching that belt away; Malignaggi’s 9th round TKO of Senchenko in Ukraine is a perfect example of a title-winning performance.
Clearly, Paulie wants a re-match; and I think that many fans would want one also. The fight, primarily due to the ridiculously bad blood between the two, generated a lot of hype, and had 1.3 million viewers tuning in. A sequel will probably be the biggest pay-day available to Malignaggi as he looks to wind down his career; for Broner there are plenty of benefits also. Broner is calling out Marcos Maidana and Lucas Matthysse, which I think are risky fights for him.
The welterweight division is the most competitive in boxing right now, and Broner is not yet good enough to compete with at least half a dozen fighters; however, moving back down to lightweight is not really viable either, considering he wants to make himself into the next PPV star, and that division has few big money players in it right now.
Paulie Malignaggi has a lot of things to be optimistic about in the future: as he has mellowed into his early-thirties, his fan base has increased in numbers, and his fantastic commentary on the Showtime network is likely to make him a pertinent voice in the sport for years to come. Fights-wise, there could be some interesting ones available.
Coming to Britain, and fighting the undefeated Kell Brook would make him considerable money, as Brook is loved in Britain and Brook himself desperately needs fights against world-class opposition. As Cotto fades, a re-match between them could also be interesting for sentimental reasons. Young welterweights coming up the ranks will see Malignaggi as an attractive option, just as Broner did: he is talented and a name in the division, without threatening anyone with big KO power. Keith Thurman would be a great clash of styles.
But Adrien Broner – Paulie Malignaggi II is the best fight for both of these boxers. For Broner, he needs to ‘right-his-wrong’, just as Mayweather did when fighting Castillo after a relatively dodgy decision. Paulie Malignaggi has the skills to beat Broner, and he feels (perhaps rightfully so, when Broner could have been docked a point on at least three occasions, a result that would have seen Paulie maintain his title through a draw) robbed by the result. Malignaggi accused Al Haymon of effectively rigging the fight, and this is something that comes up time and time again with Haymon fighters: if Broner is being spoon-fed opponents, let him fight Malignaggi again, prove his worth to the public.
This fight has to happen, and the fans must lobby for it.