Written by: WillyDWaffleman
This past weekend was a very appetizing one for boxing fans. Those in the United Kingdom got to see one of the biggest upset of the year with, Tony Bellew stopping David Haye. Fans in the United States tuned into Keith Thurman as he decisioned Danny Garcia in a Unifying Welterwight title match. There was another bout that caught my attention a fight most probably didn’t even care about. Paulie Malignaggi was stopped by Sam Eggington with a left hook to the body. The facial expression shown by Malignaggi while he was on the canvas showed it all. The 36 year old fighter couldn’t beat the bell and made his retirement in the post-fight interview. Malignaggi might not be a hall of famer but, here’s someone who overachieved in the sport of boxing by winning titles in 2 weight divisions, got big fights and most of all, left the sport with his health in tact.
The first time I remember seeing Paulie Malignaggi as a pro, was back in 2004. Promoter Lou DiBella’s had a local boxing series called Broadway Boxing which, showed off local talent in the New York City area. At that time, Dibella had a stable of many up and coming prospects but, nobody looked at Malignaggi as something to keep a eye out for. When looking at Malignaggi at that time, you’d immediately thought he was a “Growing Up Gotti” look alike. When the bell ranged, you saw the fast pumping jab, the footwork, the defensenive moves and said you yourself, “this kid ain’t bad. After seeing him a few more times on Broadway Boxing, there was something that was very visible about Paulie even by looking at his record.
When the topic is brought up, who’s the most feather fisted or lighteset puncher in modern day boxing? Without hesitation the first answer is Paulie Malignaggi. He wasn’t the knockout puncher like the Brooklyn fighters before him such as, Tyson, Judah, Bowe, and Briggs. Malignaggi on the other hand, was the total opposite wrapping up his career with 36 wins, only 7 by KO. Malignaggi indeed had problems with his hands but, even that couldn’t stop him. There’s was something “magicial” that Malignaggi possessed which most prizefighters don’t and that was the “gift of gab”. Malignaggi is without a doubt one of the best trash talkers to ever come into the sport. The heavy “nu yawk” accent and talking at 100mph, made him an annoying and disliked fighter early in his career by fans.
I’ve always said, one of boxing most underrated stories is how a kid from Bensonhurst Brooklyn went from fighting Donald Camarena in front of a couple hundred people at the Foxwoods. To overnight, fighting Miguel Cotto for a world championship in front of 14,300 fans at Madison Square Garden. To refreshen the memory of some, before the Cotto fight, Paulie fought no one worth mentioning. He called Cotto out, who was a monster at that time at Junior Welterweight. It wasn’t Malignaggi’s perfromance against Camarena that got him the Cotto fight, it was his “gift of gab” and Bob Arum the promoter of Cotto at the time, made the fight happen.
Many thought Malignaggi didn’t deserve the fight and wasn’t going to make it to the 5h round. Fans went into that fight disliking Malingaggi, to respecting him for the courageous effort and making it to the end of the bell. A year after the Cotto fight, Malignaggi would soon return to take on Lovemore N’dou for the IBF Junior Welterweight championship. Malignaggi shut out N’Dou for 12 rounds and even dropped him. This is without a doubt Paulie’s best boxing performance. This was Paulie at his best popping his jab, throwing combinations, stepping back and sidestepping from punches.
Malignaggi continued to get big fights later on his career. He was able to go against United Kingdom’s superstar at the time Ricky Hatton. Even after taking that loss, he broke even in 2 fights against fromer Lightweight champ Juan Diaz, and fought top names of the likes such as, Amir Khan, Adrien Broner, Zab Judah, Shawn Porter, and Danny Garcia. When it all said and done, Malignaggi fought some of the best fighters of his era and didn’t duck anyone. How many fighters can say they main evented in Madison Square Garden, Las Vegas, made million dollar paydays and won titles in multiple weight classes? When you really put into perspective considering his lack of power ( not a KO fighter), wasn’t with a big time promoter, didn’t have this decorated amateur career, Malignaggi accomplished a lot more than most would expect in this sport. If this isn’t inspiration to a up and coming fighter who might be in the same boat as Malignaggi once was, then I don’t know what to say. At the end of the day, you can surely say, he had “magical” career.