Paulie Malignaggi tosses shutout against Lovemore Nídou

paulie malignaggi18.06.07 - By Geoffrey Ciani: When Paulie Malignaggi challenged Miguel Cotto for the WBO junior welterweight crown just over a year ago, he was overmatched by a superior foe. Despite the loss, Malignaggi put forth the type of effort which improved his own standing even though he didnít win. His brave performance resonated with the fans and, to date, Malignaggi is still the only fighter to have ever lasted the distance against Cotto in a title bout.

Despite fighting just once since his courageous outing against Cotto, Malignaggi managed to land another title shot against 140 pound IBF champion, Lovemore Nídou. Many observers questioned the fact Malignaggi received another title shot so quickly, especially since he hadnít beaten any top rated contenders in the interim.

As Larry Merchant duly noted during the broadcast, one reason is because there are so many damned titles out there. Another more obvious reason stems from the adoration heís received from fans; in a very real sense, the loss to Cotto did more for Malignaggi than any of his previous wins.

Throughout his career, Malignaggi has suffered various troubles with his right hand. Sometimes his hand was in such excruciating pain that he refrained from using it, having developed a style that relied almost exclusively on his left hand (which incidentally, is tremendous). This limited the scope of his fullest potential. Apparently, however, since the Cotto fight, his hand has had time to heal. As such, heís become a much more complete fighter.

The new and improved Malignaggi was on full display Saturday night when he challenged Nídou. He was absolutely splendid as he administered a one-sided exhibition few would have envisioned beforehand. His outstanding jab helped control the bout from beginning-to-end, and in terms of overall skill, Malignaggi looked much sharper than he had in previous bouts.

Malignaggi exhibited outstanding stamina and a very high punch output; he was very active throughout the bout and this type of hyper activity is bound to cause problems for anyone in his weight range. He has an uncanny ability for wearing opponents down, and although Nídou never stopped trying, he was never able to find any answers; Malignaggi was simply too good for him.

Malignaggiís outstanding jab co-exists with his ability to move brilliantly around the ring. In addition, he also threw some fantastic combinations which kept Nídou confused and off-balance. This included some very well-timed right hands that always seemed to land at opportune moments. Malignaggi simply did everything right. In the end, I thought he won every round in the fight; this was a pretty easy bout to score. With a point deduction and a knockdown, all scorecards should have read 120-106 in favor of Malignaggi; two of the judges agreed, while the other inexplicably handed two rounds to Nídou.

That Malignaggi has been propelled to championship status following his courageous loss to one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world makes for a nice story. Everybody loves the underdog, and the young pugilist out of Brooklyn, New York rose to the top in Hollywood fashion.

While itís doubtful that Malignaggi will ever get another crack at Cotto, and even more doubtful that he could ever reverse the outcome of their first encounter, heís improved a lot since the loss that helped put him on the map. Whether or not he can continue improving remains to be seen, but with a trainer like Buddy Mcgirt in his corner, Iíd not be at all surprised if we havenít yet seen the best of Malignaggi.

With the two top dogs in the 140 pound division squaring off in just under a week, Malignaggi is right in the thick of things. Perhaps he may get a crack at one of the combatants in next weekís bout featuring Ricky Hatton and Jose Castillo.

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Article posted on 19.06.2007

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