Paulie Malignaggi punches back at critics

NEW YORK (November 26, 2007) – International Boxing Federation light welterweight champion Paulie “The Magic Man” Malignaggi, rated No. 2 by The Ring, believes stylish boxing skills like his are far less appreciated in today’s knockout-crazed world of boxing than it’s ever been..

“Pure boxers today aren’t as highly valued as they should be,” the outspoken Brooklyn pugilist said from his Vero Beach (FL) training camp. “Even all-time great boxers like Willie Pep and Pernall Whitaker, if they were boxing today, wouldn’t be as appreciated. Floyd Mayweather is the best in the world, maybe ever, but critics complain because he’s so good that, he wins so easily and isn’t in wars. Now-a-days everybody wants to see punching, not boxing skills, and that’s a shame. This sport is called boxing, not knockout, and the whole idea is to hit and not get hit. Boxing isn’t supposed to be all about grotesque brutality. It’s a new generation and they seem to like bloody, aggressive fighters.

“I don’t think it’s the fans. My fights have always generated high TV ratings. They want to see Paulie Malignaggi, not just the boxer, but the loud-mouthed kid who draws a lot of attention and is controversial. It’s beyond them, though. Maybe television and media people have brainwashed everybody into thinking boxing needs wars. My job is to win fights and I’ve done exactly that in all but one of my fights. The one time I didn’t, against (Miguel) Cotto, it cost me a lot of physical damage and my only loss. I proved that I’m a warrior, but I’m a human being who paid the consequences, and there is life after boxing.”

Malignaggi captured the IBF crown belt June 16, defeating defending champion Lovemore N’dou (45-8-1) in 12-rounds by overwhelming scores of 120-106 twice and 118-108. Frustrated that he hasn’t landed a lucrative fight due to the lack of open television dates, compounded by television’s “big bang theory,” Malignaggi (23-1, 5 KOs) will make his first title defense January 5 on Showtime against mandatory challenger Herman “The Black Panther” Ngoudjo (16-1, 9 KOs) at Bally’s in Atlantic City.

2000 Cameroon Olympian Ngoudjo, rated No. 1 by the IBF and No. 2 by the WBC, now fights out of Montreal. He defeated Eloy Rojas (40-4-2) 2 ½ years ago for the NABF championship and added the WBC International title eight months later with a 12-round decision against veteran Emanuel Augustus. Last January, Ngoudjo lost a 12-round split decision to Jose Luis Castillo (54-7-1), but he rebounded this past June in the IBF title eliminator, taking a 12-round split decision against Randall Bailey (35-5).

“Ngoudjo paid his dues and he deserves the No. 1 ranking,” Malignaggi commented. “I thought that he beat Castillo and he belongs where he is. But he’s not stylish enough, relying on his strength to win fights. I’ve paid my dues, too. I’m nowhere near my ultimate goal. Herman Ngoudjo is a stepping stone and that’s how I’m going to treat him January 5th. I’m going to put on a boxing clinic. I am a unique fighter with my hand speed. When he fights Paulie Malignaggi, Ngoudjo will be fighting one of the fastest, if not the fastest he’s ever seen. For pure speed, Floyd’s the best and the smartest fighter in the world. But for pure hand speed, nobody is faster than Paulie Malignaggi, and by speed I also mean pulling the trigger at the right moments – six-punch combinations in a split second. I’m not talking about being flashy -- able to pull the trigger on a dime.”

Malignaggi’s dreams of a big payday still may not be in the immediate future. He lobbied to fight Ricky Hatton, who chose to move up to welterweight and fight Mayweather on December 8, and Julio Ceasar Chavez, Jr. priced himself out of a match with Paulie. WBC title-holder Junior Witter in a unification bout, right now, probably represents the lone opponent attractive enough for a “money” showdown, but, first Paulie has to get past Ngoudjo and then N’dou, who Malignaggi is contractually obligated to fight in a rematch, one that certainly lacks appeal for network decision makers. “The Magic Man,” however, will make his required title defenses, despite missing out on purses generally afforded to a colorful, popular champion like Paulie, at least for now, as he lays the groundwork for his legacy.

“I want to be a two-division champion (light welterweight and welterweight),” the 27-year-old Malignaggi spoke about the boxing legacy he plans on leaving when he finally hangs-up his gloves. “I want to be in the Hall of Fame, financially set-up me and my family for life, and avenge my only loss to Cotto. I want to take everything on the table and leave my legacy.”

Article posted on 26.11.2007

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