After Lackluster Showing Malignaggi Calls Out Hatton

paulie malignaggiMatthew Hurley: Despite laboring to score a twelve round unanimous decision over Herman Ngoudjo, IBF light welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi’s motor mouth was revving just fine when the topic turned to potential opponent Ricky Hatton. Malignaggi’s ego may have been bruised a bit after being stunned by Ngoudjo in the seventh round but the braggadocios fighter blames a six-month layoff for his lackluster performance. It’s Hatton the Brooklyn born ‘Magic Man’ truly wants.

“Ricky Hatton needs me at this point,” the fighter told ESPN’s Tim Smith. “If he comes back down to 140 pounds he can’t fight shlubs anymore. I think I’m the biggest name at 140 besides Ricky Hatton.”

That assertion is debatable but Malignaggi’s shaky performance may actually get him what he wants. There was little on display Saturday night to suggest that Hatton is doing anything but salivating over the thought of chasing Paulie around and then out of the ring. Hatton continues to wait on Oscar De La Hoya’s decision on who he will fight in April and it would seem almost inconceivable that the ‘Golden Boy’ would choose the ‘Hitman’ after Hatton’s loss to Floyd Mayweather in December. Malignaggi’s promoter Lou Dibella told Tim Smith that there have been preliminary talks with the Hatton camp but that Ricky will probably engage in a tune-up bout before stepping back into the championship fold.

“We’re very interested in making a Malignaggi – Hatton match in 2008,” Dibella said. “Ricky said he’s not going to fight at 147 again and that he’s coming down to 140. I think Paulie’s the best guy at 140.”

Junior Witter, the WBC light welterweight champion would disagree with that but ‘The Hitter’ appears to be the unfortunate man left out in the cold despite being, arguably, the best in the division. Though he continues to call out Hatton himself it is highly unlikely that Witter will secure that fight and Malignaggi makes no mention of him when calling out future opponents.

Dibella and his fighter feel that Hatton’s come forward, pressure style will play right into Malignaggi’s hands. Although he lacks power in either hand he does possess good boxing skills, quickness and a sturdy chin. That being said, he is nowhere near the elite level of his idol and Hatton conqueror Floyd Mayweather. After his performance against Ngoudjo it’s hard to envision Paulie taking Hatton to task as Mayweather did. In fact it is easier to predict Hatton storming after Malignaggi and breaking him down before stopping him late. But all of that conjecture is based on one performance and Malignaggi insists that ring rust and a bad style match up led to his uninspired showing.

“If I fight Ricky Hatton,” he says, “it’s going to be much more different than this (the Ngoudjo bout). It’s a different style in front of me. I do best when guys come at me. Stylistically, the Ricky Hatton fight is the best fight for me.”

Back in Manchester Ricky Hatton is probably smiling and hoping the ‘Magic Man’ gets exactly what he wants.

Article posted on 08.01.2008

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