Paulie Malignaggi – “I’m The Best In The World”

paulie malignaggiBy Matthew Hurley: As International Boxing Federation junior welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi’s motor mouth revs up into high gear for his January 5th title defense against Herman Ngoudjo, the brash New Yorker took a few minutes to discuss a possible showdown with Ricky Hatton.

“I’ve noticed a lot of people talk about me fighting Ricky Hatton,” he said before engaging in a conference call with reporters. “Right now I’m focused on January 5th and shutting this chump’s mouth up. So I’ll discuss Ricky Hatton on January 6th. I want the best fights possible, every fighter wants that. But right now I only have Herman Ngoudjo on my mind..

Malignaggi, who won the title when he took a twelve round unanimous decision over Lovemore N’dou on June 16th, may be coming into his own as a serious player in the light welterweight/welterweight divisions. With several terrific young fighters all circling each other and looking for the opportunity to become the kingpin of the most talent rich weight divisions, Malignaggi can certainly stake his claim after taking on Miguel Cotto in 2006 and winning the IBF strap in 2007.

His brave stand against Cotto in front of a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd proved that his arrogance is based in a truly tough young fighter. He showed there was a heart beneath all the flash and all the talk and also displayed deft boxing skills which have improved since that confidence building performance. Critics will say, and do say, that he ultimately took a beating to the face in the fight and that he remains a feather-fisted Hector Camacho wannabe. But unlike Camacho, who became a safety first fighter after absorbing a career altering left hook from Edwin Rosario, Malignaggi often stays in the pocket with his opponent, willing to trade but using his tremendous speed to step out after finishing his attack. It was that aggressive speed that befuddled the gritty N’dou and eventually sent him to the canvas.

But like one of his idols, Floyd Mayweather, Malignaggi can become an oppressive personality. His trash talking is becoming Mayweatheresque and, like Floyd, he seems to be one of those fighters fans either love or hate. There’s no middle ground with the ‘Magic Man’. Also, because of his lack of power in either fist, his bouts have all the earmarks of becoming twelve round boxing exhibitions, thereby sapping them of drama. That is unless someone like a Ricky Hatton or a Junior Witter is able to draw out the tough New York street kid in Malignaggi like Cotto did.

Ngoudjo, also a fighter lacking one punch power, doesn’t look to be such an opponent but he is a talented fighter who gave Jose Luis Castillo all he could handle and fought tooth and nail with power punching Randall Bailey, coming away with a split decision victory. While the fight doesn’t have the makings of a shoot out, both fighters shot their mouths off in hyping the bout.

“Everything you say pissed me off,” Ngoudjo said.

“Yeah, yeah, when your head is bouncing off my fists, remember I said like a pinball, like a pinball I’m going to use you,” Malignaggi shot back. “The best in the world. I’m the best in the world. Remember that. When you get in the ring and they’re announcing my name, remember you tell yourself, ‘I’m fighting the best fighter in the world.’”

Ngoudjo then dipped into Mike Tyson’s smack talking book and rattled off this little gem. “You’re going to be my girlfriend in the ring.”

To which Paulie replied, “I know you’re like that. I don’t go that route. I don’t go that way, buddy.”

And on and on and on it went.

If the fight is half as fast and low down as both fighters insist it will be this could turn out to be a pretty good scrap. But don’t bet on it. Regardless of what Malignaggi says he has Ricky Hatton in his sites for an already talked about summer showdown at Madison Square Garden. He won’t do anything to jeopardize that.

Malignaggi – Ngoudjo will take place at Bally’s Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City and will be broadcast on Showtime Championship Boxing on January 5th.

Article posted on 21.12.2007

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